BBQ Rubs and Sauces: Take Your Grilling Experience to the Next Level

If you enjoy BBQ, you know how the appropriate sauces and spices can change the food’s flavour. You’d be shocked at how frequently they are either overlooked or incorrectly used. Some people only practice one or the other. Some people could argue whether to use sauce or rub when making barbecue. Which side are you on? Let’s dig into the specifics of each of these components and the functions they’re meant to do.

What Are BBQ Rubs?

If you’re a BBQ fan, you must have tried barbecue sauce before, but only connoisseurs are familiar with rubs. When searching online, you’ll find a vast range of flavourful BBQ rubs and meat sauces to delight your taste buds. A BBQ rub is a carefully formulated mixture of seasonings and spices that can include anything from pepper and paprika to honey. A great rub gives your meat a satisfying crust while it cooks and enhances its flavour.

Some barbecue chefs prefer to use a dry rub, which solely contains dry components like seasonings. Others choose a wet rub, which combines numerous spices and herbs with a liquid ingredient like vinegar, oil, or mustard. With the addition of liquids, you get a better adhesive for the dry materials. That can increase the rub’s ability to extract a strong flavour.


When to Use a BBQ Rub?

Before discussing using BBQ rubs it’s essential to understand the distinction between grilling and barbecuing. Grilling is a quick, high-temperature approach that works well for preparing burgers and steaks. Barbecuing is a low-temperature, slow-cooking technique to roast pig shoulder or beef brisket (usually at 110 °C).

That’s a significant distinction, and people often think they should only use rubs when grilling because of this misunderstanding. No! Rubs, wet or dry, are for barbecuing, not for grilling. That’s because rubs will burn in a grill’s intense heat, leaving you with a blackened, smoky mess. One of the main ingredients of a rub is sugar, which begins to burn at 130 °C. You’ll understand why rubs and grilling don’t go together when you think that you grill steaks at 230 to 280 °C and even chicken at 180 to 230 °C.

Use meat rubs for smoking and low-heat barbecuing instead of grilling, and you’ll become the most popular griller among your friends. Keep your seasoning simple with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper for high-heat grilling.

How to Apply a BBQ Rub?

You should pat your meat dry with a paper towel to remove excess moisture before preparing it for a BBQ rub. After that, rub it directly, ensuring the spices are absorbed. As its nickname suggests, you ought to rub it in.

Wet rubs should be applied at least an hour before grilling to give the mixture time to soak into the meat. Dry rubs can be applied just before the meat goes on the grill. Some chefs like using a wet rub for foods that require prolonged slow cooking, like ribs, and a dry rub for foods that cook quicker, like fish.


What Are BBQ Sauces?

If you haven’t tried BBQ sauce in the modern day, you don’t know what you’re missing out on. Most people have pleasant memories of its acidic and sweet flavour. And now you can use most sauces on their own as a dipping sauce for foods other than barbecue.

In the 17th century, vinegar, pepper, and salt were the only ingredients in the first barbecue sauce. First developed to amplify the inherent flavours of meat and produce a well-rounded flavour profile, nowadays, barbecue sauce is typically added at the end of cooking. Why not beforehand? Because when stored at high temperatures for an extended period, the sugar in BBQ sauce can burn.

When and How to Use a BBQ Sauce?

As we previously mentioned, the sugar in BBQ sauce might cause your meat to burn if you apply it too early in the cooking process. To avoid overcooking your barbecued meat, wait until the last few minutes of cooking to baste it with sauce. Alternatively, in many circumstances, after preparing the meal.

Of course, leave more out so everyone can add additional BBQ sauce to their taste. Note that barbecue sauces do not make the meat moister. After all, while the sauce is simmering, any moisture immediately evaporates. The sauce’s flavours are all that’s left. As a result, the sauce serves only as a vehicle for dispensing those flavours.


The Most Popular Types of BBQ Sauces

There are many types of BBQ sauces, but here are some of the most popular ones.

Tomato-Based BBQ Sauces

Barbecue sauce with a tomato base is by far the most popular type. There are some exceptions, but generally speaking, the tomato in these sauces is mostly ketchup. Many manufacturers add other ingredients to the ketchup base, and it is these additions, as well as the general consistency (i.e. thickness) of the finished sauce, setting them apart.

Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauces

Vinegar-based sauces are thinner and spicier than tomato-based sauces. Such are those that characterise North Carolina barbecue. Furthermore, because pork is the star of Carolina barbecue, these sauces go great with it because their astringent flavour serves to counterbalance the fattier pork.

Mustard-Based BBQ Sauces

Pork is the main ingredient of South Carolina barbecue, but the local sauce is different. It’s another thin, spicy, and astringent sauce that goes well with the region’s signature pulled pork sandwiches, especially those made with pork shoulder but also with the neck and belly of the pig.

Mayonnaise-Based BBQ Sauces

The lone genuine curiosity of the group is now in view. We’re referring to the renowned white barbecue sauce from Alabama, based on mayonnaise. Although the mixture may seem strange, it’s tasty, creamy, and downright mouth-watering.


Sauces and Rubs Make Any BBQ Better

Your taste and texture preferences will play a significant role when deciding between BBQ sauce and rub. It’s vital to remember that, as long as each ingredient is introduced at the right moment, both dressings and rubs can be used simultaneously in the same dish and produce a fantastic BBQ mixture.