How to use dry spice rubs

August 9, 2022 (Last Updated: August 4, 2022)
how to use dry spice rubs

Dry spice rubs are an extremely versatile and effective way to infuse bags of flavour into poultry, fish, meat and even veggies. Learn how to harness the best flavour from your spices  to make dry spice rubs that will transform your food.

The story of spice

All those seemingly inconsequential jars of spice sitting in your kitchen have a remarkable story to tell. They are the product of an epic history of lands discovered, empires created and destroyed, and valiant battles fought. Centuries ago, spices were the treasures of kings and were as valuable and sought after as gold. Nowadays, they are a staple in almost every pantry and don’t require an expedition over the Seven Seas to obtain. With such a rich origin and history, we owe it to ourselves to understand how to get the most out of these once sacred ingredients.

how to make dry spice rubs

Get the most out of your spices

Do you ever feel like a dish needs a little extra something…some oomph, zing, flair? Chances are it needs some spice! Used in a wide variety of both sweet and savoury dishes, spices have three major roles to play in food: to add flavour and aroma, to enhance taste and to adjust colour.

Although convenient, pre-ground spices start to lose their potency and aroma after only 6 months and are often bulked up with other unidentifiable ingredients. On the other hand, whole spices come in their purest form and can be stored for as long as 5 years! Lightly toast whole spices in a dry pan and grind into a powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Store all your spices in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place to keep them at their best.

How to use dry spice rubs

Step aside marinades, there’s a new cool kid in town! Dry rubs are an extremely versatile and effective way to infuse bags of flavour into poultry, fish, meat and even veggies. Their claim to fame is that they keep meat superbly succulent by creating a rendered crust that traps all the moisture inside.

To use a dry rub:

  1. Pat your protein dry with a paper towel and drizzle over a little olive oil.
  2. Liberally rub the spice mix into every nook and cranny of your protein and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavours to work their magic.
  3. Cook over the braai or in a griddle pan, keeping an eye on the rub so that it doesn’t char too much.

While you can find all sorts of rubs in stores, making them at home is simple and customisable to your taste preference. Go big with the flavours and make sure to incorporate sweet, spicy and savoury elements. Dark brown sugar is often used for sweetness because of its sticky molassesey goodness. Start with a base of salt, black pepper, paprika (smoked or sweet), onion powder and garlic powder, and then layer on other complementary spices such as cumin, chilli powder or dried coriander. After testing out a few recipes, you’ll soon be able to rely on your nose to create your own signature rubs.

Words: Kirsty Buchanan; Images: Pexels


Give it a go: Spice-rubbed ostrich with cauliflower & sweet potato mash and crispy sage

Spice-rubbed ostrich with cauliflower and sweet potato mash and crispy sage

Also see: How to make flavoured salt

How to make your own flavoured salts at home

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