The “Secret Ingredient" Chefs Won’t Share

Here’s the Rub:

A RUB is a flavour boosting mixture of herbs and ground spices rubbed onto raw food prior to cooking.   Their are 2 types; dry and wet.  Dry rubs, which have no liquid added to them are the most common.  Wet rubs (also referred to as a paste) are essentially a dry rub with some type of liquid added.    Wet or dry, spiced rubs are fantastic when applied to meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables.  Rubs can be applied then cooked immediately or used to coat the food for a length of time to intensify the spiced flavours.

When to Use:

Spiced rubs are mainly used for grilling and smoking, but can also be used when roasting, creating a beautiful flavorful crust of the surface of meats.   The foundation of all great rubs is salt.  Salt is a magnifier for flavor and a must have when building any type of rub.  Another key ingredient is sugar.   When barbecuing, cooking temperatures are often lower than the burning point of sugar, so it is safe to use sugar generously in your rub mixture when grilling. Paprika and Chill are the next ingredients of choice.  They add colour, help promote a sauce like consistency on the surface. To finish any rub is a mixture of spices and herbs. It’s the addition of spices and herbs that gives the rub its depth of flavour.

The first Rub I ever used (and is still one of my favorite “go to” Rub Recipes) for Steak is,

Recipe: Bob’s Steak Rub

4 tsp Kosher Salt

3 tsp Sugar

2 tsp Paprika

½ tsp Cayenne Pepper

Benefits of Making Your Own:

    ⁃    Easy and simple to make

    ⁃    Use up spices you already own

    ⁃    You avoid adding chemical preservatives   such as MSG (Mono-sodium Glutamate) transferring onto your food.

    ⁃    Control the amount of salt in your blend

    ⁃    No artificial colours added

    ⁃    Much lower in calories and healthier than heavy sauces, marinade an vinaigrettes.

    ⁃    They can be made in advance and last for 


If you’re tight on time, coat your food and cook right away. Otherwise, coat your food entirely and allow to rest in the refrigerator allow the spices the time needed to develop a deeper intense flavour. 

Create Your Own Spiced Rubs:

Here’s a short list of ingredients you can use to create a unique spiced rub in your kitchen.  Start building your rub mixture using;

3 parts Paprika

1 part of any other ingredients you prefer.

Go with you gut and experiment using 6-10 ingredients.   

Rules of the Rub:

Heavy, bold flavours such chili, paprika and cumin play well with heartier foods such as steaks and salmon.  Front loading your Rub mixture with Paprika will give you a smokier flavour. If you’re looking to add some heat, Chile powder and cayenne will meet your needs.  The opposite is also true with lighter, milder proteins.  They pair well with spices with delicate, milder flavours such as oregano and thyme.

How Much Should You Use?

The right amount of rub to use when coating any piece of meat is easy. Use whatever will stick! For this reason, I recommend making extra and save what you haven’t used for a later meal.