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Our BBQ seasoning guide will rub you the right way

A shot of the range of Norfolk Smoke Pit BBQ seasoning rubs

There are levels to the BBQ game. Every facet and nuance adds more flavour to the food on the plate. The rabbit hole is vast with infinite threads to explore. Take the blue pill and you wake up safe at home, believing what you want to believe about BBQ. Take the red pill and we’ll show how deep the warren goes. Now that you’ve eagerly quaffed down the red pill, it’s time to delve into another element of the flame based Matrix – BBQ seasoning. Let’s go Neos!


What is barbecue seasoning?

As always we need to right back to the roots of understanding. This is what leads to longevity of knowledge. BBQ seasoning is a basic blend of spices, salt and sugar used to season, and add flavour to, meat before smoking or grilling. You can also add BBQ seasoning after cooking too. Basically think of seasoning as having two principal functions. Firstly it brings out the natural flavours of your meat or veg. Secondly it creates a basic flavour foundation for your food.


What are BBQ rubs?

Although BBQ rubs and BBQ seasoning are fairly similar, they do have some distinct differences. A rub is a mix of spices, herbs and seasoning, that we apply to meat and veg before smoking or grilling. Unlike barbecue seasoning, we don’t usually apply a a BBQ rub to food after cooking.


How do BBQ rubs work?

BBQ rubs are a quick and potent way to infuse a deep flavour into your grilled delights. Basically, while your food is blazing on the grill, the rub cooks too, penetrating deeper into the meat to add flavour. What’s more some of the surface rub crystallises to form a crunchy and crispy ‘bark’ on the outside of the meat. This bark is a delicious crispy crust of spices, adding another texture to the taste experience. Plus the bark acts like a barrier, trapping all the natural flavours of the meat within the flesh. While marinades require a little more time and effort, a barbecue rub is a quicker and easier solution that still delivers a powerful flavour.


What are the main BBQ rub ingredients?

The great thing about BBQ rubs is that you they are super easy to make yourself. If you’re not the hands on type you can buy all kinds of pre-made rubs too. Win-win anyone? Now, we know that most of the Big K Fam are flame and foodie fanatics at heart, so it’s time to give you some ingredient insight. To create your own basic BBQ rub you’ll need oregano, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, coriander, cumin, chilli powder, sugar and salt. You can experiment with the amounts to customise a  flavour to you liking. Just a quick note: if you’re using a rub on your meat, salt and sugar are key. Salt helps the rub’s flavours penetrate deeper into the meat. Sugar helps the process of crystallisation, creating your crispy back of deliciousness. If you’re grilling veggies then you can get away with little or no salt or sugar. Just focus on creating balanced spice mix for flavour heaven.


A raw chicken covered in chilli bbq seasoning ready to cook


How to use and apply a BBQ rub?

You can apply a rub to your food in two ways: wet or dry. The majority of rubs are dry rubs so let’s start there. To apply a dry rub, you will first need to pat down your meat or veg with a kitchen cloth or paper towel. This is because you should remove as much surface level moisture as possible. Why? The rub will absorb the water and start clumping together forming a more viscous, almost liquidity texture. The result? You will have an uneven, and therefore weaker, flavour distribution. So once you have removed as much moisture as possible, you should then sprinkle your dry bbq rub onto your food. Finally evenly rub the powdered mixture all over you food and indulge in some light patting too. The aim is to coat the outside if your food with a full an d even layer of rub.

If you’re going for a wet rub, simply mix a little water or oil to your dry rub. Stir until you have a more viscous paste. Then just spread your paste all over your food. You won’t obtain as much of that lovely surface crunch from the bark, but you will still enjoy some amazing flavour.


Perfect rub and food combos.

This is all just basic culinary calculation people! Some bbq spices and rubs are all purpose – meaning you can apply them to pretty much any kind of bbq food. Other rubs are specifically designed to compliment the existing flavours of particular food types. If you’re deep into the meat, then salt holds the key to BBQ rub success. The thicker the curt of meat, the more salt is needed in your rub. For really epically thick cuts of meat, you can even add a rub of salt before applying your main rub.

Grab a chipotle rub for chicken, as the unique combo of spices and seasoning will really lift the flavour of the flesh and deliver a spicy, crunchy and crispy layer of skin. For the pescatarians and fish lovers, we’d suggest a herby rub with dil, coriander and lemon zest. Shout out to the vegetarians too! Grilled veg on the barbecue goes down a treat with a Greek inspired basil and oregano rub. Or why not try a Mexican style fajita rub with chilli powder, park and cumin?


A shot of the various spices and powders used to create bbq seasoning


A handy BBQ seasoning dry rub recipe for all kinds of food

Easy Dry Rub Ingredients:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Optional)



Mix brown sugar, paprika, black pepper, salt, chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Store in an air-tight container or keep in the freezer in a sealable plastic bag.


What are the best BBQ rubs in UK? What are the best meat rubs in the UK?

Ah yes the gold old ‘best’ conundrum. We’ve said it countless times: there’s no such thing as the ‘best’, it’s more about what’s right for you. Need a little help in making your decision? No worries, Big K are somewhat experts in the BBQ field, so we can point you in the right direction. How? Well, we have a variety of BBQ seasoning and rubs available 24/7 365 on our website. Let’s break down a few options to rub you up the right   way.


Norfolk Smoke Pit BBQ Rubs and seasoning

Our friends at Norfolk Smoke Pit know how to bland up some amazing rubs to elevate your grill trekkers.


A product shot of Brew and Briskets bbq seasoning


Brew and Briskets

Brew & Briskets is a coffee blend with delightfully delicious hints of oak smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Bang a load of this on your brisket and you’re in business. All you need to do is rub the seasoning onto your meat before cooking with a ratio of 3-5% if you want to be specific! Or you can freestyle and smash it on as you like. Go beyond brisket! This rub is a versatile all rounder, perfect with chicken, pork & roasted veg.


Cactus Kitchen

Meet this fiery Mexican flavoured spice rub. If you’re cooking up chilli, tacos, fajitas or loaded nachos this is the blend you need! Why is this rub authentic? Well, it’s the chipotle chillies that create the traditional Mexican flavour.  Yes the rub has fiery heat from the chilli flakes, however the cumin, garlic, onion and smoked paprika balance out the kick.


Herby Jalapeño.

Introducing your herb-based  BBQ hero – Herby Jalapeño Experience the taste of a beautiful oregano, thyme and rosemary blend with subtle hints of mint and red jalapeño flakes. You can season your meat, fish, veg, taters, pasta or pizza – the possibilities are truly endless. If you’re feeling frisky,  you can also mix Herby Jalapeño with a load of butter and chuck a knob onto a grilled steak. Or why not cook up an epic seafood baste?  Herby Jalapeño can be a dry rub or mix it into a wet marinade with oil, lemon juice or vinegar.


Jack’s Meat Shack rubs and seasoning

Our pal Jack’s Meat Shack knows the score when it comes to amazingly awesome American bbq rubs, dry rubs and rib rubs in the UK. Check out these bad boys.


A product shot of Cowboy Coffee bbq seasoning


Cowboy Coffee

Saddle up for some salivating sensations with this coffee-based masterpiece. You can use the Cowboy Coffee rub with chicken, lamb, pork, beef, fish or even spice up your favourite veggies and beans. Ona health vibe? No probs! There’s no added sugar, so no empty calories. Plus Cowboy Coffee is suitable for vegetarians and vegans.


A product shot of Ranch bbq seasoning



Treat your tastebuds to a gift of the green goodness with this herby burst of flavours. This all-purpose herb rub goes with anything really, from chicken and beef to pork and lamb. Why not add to your favourite base for a thick dipping sauce?


Best BBQ rubs in the UK? Big K has you covered.

We really do hope that this blog on BBQ seasoning and rubs has rubbed you up the right way! If you’re after more BBQ rub knowledge, delve into this barbecue seasoning deep dive. Here’s some more info BBQ sauces and magnificent marinades too. Now you are tooled up and ready for BBQ war! Stay tuned for more blogalicous insights on the horizon.