Expert Tips for Using BBQ Rubs to Enhance Flavor and Tenderness

Expert Tips for Using BBQ Rubs

You may fancy a high class grill. You could gather fresh meat to grill. You may even know the best BBQ recipes by heart. But the actual magic of turning bland flesh into flavory food only begins after you’ve sprinkled the magic dust on the meat. It’s the mighty BBQ rub we’re talking about and here are some expert tips for BBQ rubs.

If you’ve applied it correctly, a BBQ rub imparts taste, flavor and character to your grilled meat. But what is the right way to use a rub? Should you smother the meat with the rub or just sprinkle on it? When can you apply the rub? Just a minute before you grill is fine? Or at least an hour or a day before is necessary?

The internet is loaded with a variety of opinions on how you must or must not use BBQ rubs. In this compilation of expert tips for BBQ rubs, we will bypass the crass and share best advice directly from the experienced grill masters.

Want to hear what your favorite grill masters, chefs and pitmasters are advising you to do about rubs? Let’s dive in.

How do I Apply a BBQ Rub to the Meat?

Before we dive into expert tips for BBQ rubs, here is some basic info on how to use a rub.

Typically, you can use a rub in three distinct ways to enhance the flavor of the meat. All three of them have a different purpose for creating different recipes.

Seasoning : When you sprinkle a rub on the meat just before grilling, it’s called seasoning. Seasoning adds a quick burst of flavor to the surface of your food. It’s great for highlighting the natural flavors of the ingredient. Salt in particular also helps draw out moisture and promotes browning during cooking.

Rubbing : When you massage the rub on the surface of the meat, it’s called rubbing. Rubs add both flavor and texture to your food. The spices can penetrate the surface of the meat or vegetables, while the sugar helps create a caramelized crust during cooking.

Marinating: When you apply a rub several hours or days before the meat is grilled or smoked, its called marinating. Marinades not only add flavor, but they can also tenderize tougher cuts of meat by breaking down muscle fibers. The acidic ingredients in marinades (like vinegar, citrus juice, or yogurt) can further enhance this tenderizing effect.

Expert Tips for BBQ Rubs Directly from Grilling Greats

When you’re grilling alongside the greats, you often learn many simple lessons about grilling. Let’s take you behind the curtain to learn expert Tips for BBQ Rubs from some of the most celebrated pitmasters in the business.

Harry Jones, the Spice Whisperer

Harry “The Spice Whisperer” Jones, a legend on the competition circuit, emphasizes the importance of building your own rubs. “Pre-made rubs are a great starting point,” Harry says, “but crafting your own allows you to tailor the flavor profile to the specific cut of meat and your personal preferences.” Harry suggests starting with a base of kosher salt, brown sugar, and black pepper, then experimenting with spices like paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder to create your signature blend.

Myron Mixon, the Smoke King

Myron Mixon, the Smoke King gives Expert Tips for BBQ rubs

For Myron Mixon, a pitmaster known for his smoky creations, gives expert tips for BBQ rubs the rub is all about enhancing the natural flavors of the meat. “I like to keep my rubs simple,” Myron shares, “focusing on spices that complement the smokiness of my cooking style. My signature rub uses a healthy dose of smoked paprika and chipotle powder to add depth without overpowering the meat.”

Melissa Cookston, the Queen of MemphisMelissa Cookston, the Queen of Memphis

When it comes to rubs, nobody does Memphis-style BBQ quite like Melissa Cookston. “Memphis ribs are all about that sweet and savory balance,” Melissa explains. “I use a good amount of brown sugar and honey in my rubs, along with paprika and cayenne pepper for a touch of heat.” Melissa also suggests using a binder like mustard or oil to help the rub adhere to the meat, especially for longer cooks.

Cuffy McGraw, the Rub Revolution

Cuffy McGraw, a rising star in the BBQ world gives expert tips for BBQ rubs, champions the idea of layering rubs. “Think of it like building a flavor profile with spices,” Cuffy says. “Start with a base rub applied a few hours before cooking. Then, towards the end of the cook, add a finishing rub with a bit more punch – maybe a sprinkle of cayenne pepper or a touch of citrus zest for a bright note.”

Craig Verhage, The BBQ NinjaCraig Verhage, The BBQ Ninja

Craig Verhage, popularly known as the BBQ Ninja lives and grills by one simple philosophy. Don’t be scared to make mistakes and learn from them. Craig says it’s all in the temperature. When you know how long to hold the temperature of the grill, then you’ve actually become a grillmaster. The only way to know is by making mistakes and experimenting and Craig Verhage gives expert tips for BBQ rubs.

The Final Rundown 

These pitmasters all agree that experimentation is key. Don’t be afraid to try new spice combinations and adjust the proportions to suit your taste. Remember, there are no hard and fast rules in BBQ – the beauty lies in the creative exploration.

By incorporating these expert tips for BBQ rubs from the masters, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a BBQ champion in your own backyard. So, get creative with your rubs, fire up the grill, and let the delicious smoky magic begin.


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