What is a Rub, Why and How to Do It?

What is a Rub, Why and How to Do It?

Posted on: January 16, 2023

Rubbing is an important step to master the art of food smoking. A rub is a secret ingredient that makes every smoked food lip-smacking. A rub not only enhances the flavor and taste of the food but also intensifies its color and smell of it. Whether it is smoking or grilling if you want to create some magic a rub is a great way to go.

We will give you brief details on rubs and their application in this article along with some pro-food smoking tips. So, without further ado, let’s start with the definition of a rub.

What is a Rub?

A rub is a blend of different flavoring ingredients or seasoning that is applied all over the raw food before smoking or grilling. A rub can be prepared by mixing spices or herbs or both. Rubs are generally of two dominant flavors salty and sweet. You can experiment with other flavors like spicy, pungent, earthy, etc.

There are two types of rubs, dry and wet. Each type of rub has its unique benefits and process of preparation that makes food smoking fun.

Dry-type Rub

As the name suggests, dry rub is made with dry ingredients only like spices, herbs, ground seeds, etc. To apply the dry rub use your hands to smear it all over the raw meat and let it rest for a while. This will ensure the flavors are absorbed into the food enhancing its taste.

Benefits of Dry Rub

  • Creates a good charred crust on the outer part
  • Doesn’t add extra moisture to the food making it tender. This means it is best for foods that cook faster and doesn’t require a tenderizer.
  • Preserves the natural flavor of the meat while enhancing it.

Preparing Dry Rub

You have to create a base flavor before applying the dry rub. Generally, paprika, chili powder, or onion powder are preferred here. Then, you can add a mix of spices or herbs depending on the type of food you want to cook. Here is a list of spices and their flavors to prepare a dry rub.

Salt: Imparts a salty flavor to the food without altering the natural taste. Canning salt or kosher salt is perfect for this purpose.

Sugar: It only adds sweetness to the food and should be used in combination with other spices or herbs. Raw sugar or brown sugar can be used for food smoking.

Pepper: If you want to add a tongue-tickling flavor or a mildly acidic taste to the food then go for pepper. You can use capsicum pepper, black pepper, cayenne pepper, or chili pepper as per taste.

Cinnamon/ Nutmeg: For an earthy flavor try using a little cinnamon or nutmeg to the dry rub mix. Too much of any of these can have an undesirable effect.

Herbs: Herbs seasoning like thyme, rosemary, fennel, garlic, ginger, basil, oregano, etc. add unique flavor to the food. You can add anyone or two of these with a blend of other spices in your dry rub.

Wet Type Rub

Wet rub contains the same ingredients as dry rub but has a liquid base added to it. The wet rub is applied by dipping the raw food completely in it and then leaving it for a while. This will not only help the flavors to seep into the food but the liquid base will also add moisture to it.

Benefits of Wet Rub

  • Ideal for slow cooking as it adds moisture to the food preventing it from drying out.
  • Acts as a tenderizer apart from enhancing the flavor.
  • Gives good charring on the outside while keeping it juicy and tender

Preparing wet rub

The wet rub is prepared by mixing a blend of spices or herbs with some kind of liquid. Generally, a paste-like or creamy consistency is considered best for wet rub. Here is a list of liquids used as a base.

Oil: Oil only adds tenderness to the food without much flavor. Olive oil is the most suitable base for all wet rubs.

Vinegar: It adds a tangy and acidic flavor to the food making it succulent. You can use any type of vinegar for this purpose.

Juice: Fruit juice contains some chemicals that act as a natural tenderizer. Pineapple juice is quite popular for preparing wet rubs.

Alcohol: Beer, wine, whiskey, etc. add a unique flavor to the food while adding to its tenderness.

Tips on food smoking

Now that you have a basic idea of preparing rubs, you can confidently play the pitmaster at your house party with these food smoking tips.

  • Prefer slow cooking as it preserves the tenderness and natural flavor of the food.
  • Use a thermometer to check the doneness to avoid overcooking
  • Use best quality raw meat for smoking as raw food will absorb the smoky flavor better than semi-cooked food.
  • Use a pro food smoker with advanced features and digital controls. Thankfully, we have Bradley Smoker that comes in an ergonomic design with the latest technology.
  • Use good wood to preserve the smell and taste of your food. Again Bradley Bisquettes came to the rescue here. Bradley Bisquettes are specially designed wood chips that extinguish before turning into ashes saving your food from stinking.

With this, we came to the end of today’s tips on barbeque rubs and food smoking. Hope these Bradley tips & tricks have been helpful to you.

Interested in checking out more information about meat rubs? Look no further than our articles on:
3 Homemade Rubs to take Your Smoked Chicken to the Next Level
Famous Rub Types Paired with Delicious Recipes

For more great ideas on how to get the most of your Bradley Smoker, check out the awesome articles on our Bradley Smoker Food Smoking Blog for more tips & tricks.