Making your own rub (how to get started?)

Discussion in 'Sauces, Rubs & Marinades' started by markusm, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    My girlfriend has always done any seasonings/marinades etc since we have been together for most of the last 8 years. (Actually until I got a grill, she did all of the cooking). Once I started smoking ribs and chicken on the grill, I started seasoning things on my own, basically just guessing at what might taste good together. Everything I have tried has been a hit with everyone that's tasted it, but there are two problems I see with this: 1.) Different areas of the meat won't necessarily taste the same due to uneven seasoning, and 2.) When something turns out especially well, it's hard to replicate the recipe exactly. 

    Now my girlfriend is one of the best cooks I've ever known. In fact, the grilled chicken we make that she marinades is so good, in my opinion, that I rarely ever order grilled chicken breast in restaurants anymore because even at nice places, it just doesn't compare to what we make at home. (note that I'm bragging more on her marinade that I am my "mad grillin skills", although sometimes even fancy restaurants dry it out). The problem is, she never really makes anything the same way twice. Just as I do, she wings it, although she knows more from experience what herbs go together well and for what meats, etc.... She also knows more about which herbs and spices should be added very lightly and which ones you should just dump in. 

    I asked her about pre-mixing a rub, and she's in the same boat I am... she's never done it. She has always just sprinkled it on judging how much of each is needed as she goes. So I was wondering if anyone has any tips/advice on where to start with this, or any other sites that might. 

    One example of something I LOVE to add to the mix is cinnamon, but it's also one I have to be careful with because obviously I don't want my meat to taste like cinnamon, I just want that "hint" of it in there. Enough you can tell it's in there, but not enough to make you scrunch your face up and say "Is that cinnamon on there?" If that makes any sense. 

    Thanks in advance for any replies. 
  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

  3. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Thanks for the reply CliffCarter. That does look like it would be delicious, but what I'm trying to figure out is how one would go about creating a rub from the ingredients they already use. And I guess it would be more accurate to say "how to pre-mix" a rub that I already use so that I can spread all of the ingredients equally over the meat, and be able to recreate the rub the same way each time. 

    Since I just sprinkle each ingredient individually from its container, I have no idea what the proportions of each ingredient would be. I'm wondering if its just one of those trial and error things where you just have to keep adjusting until it's right, but I was hoping there might be some kind of "rules of thumb" to go by to get started so that I don't end up ruining a rack of ribs because there is too much of any particular herb or spice. 
  4. crankybuzzard

    crankybuzzard Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I too love making custom spice blends.  I have around 100 different blends that I've created over the last several years and it's been a lot of fun making them from scratch.  Each year I make a little over 30 pounds of spices to sell, cook with, and give away to folks.  BBQ rub and chili powders are the main items, but steak seasonings and such are gaining popularity...


    Trial and error will only take you so far if you don't take notes!

    Like I tell my kids when they are doing things in the kitchen or on the cookers, take good notes, only change one thing at a time before changing something else, and make sure to take good notes...  Did I mention taking notes?

    Also, measure out each different spice and make sure you have something to tell you that you are doing the same measurement each time.  A good scale, a good set of measuring spoons, etc...  Counting shakes from a container doesn't work, I tried.  [​IMG]

    As you make your creations, try them on some chicken or cheap cuts of beef that you can cook in a skillet in the kitchen for testing purposes.  I tend to Make very small batches of spice blends and sample them many times before I make up a pound or 2.

    Once you find a few that you and the GF like, share them with friends that you know will give you real feedback.  Also, NEVER, EVER, EVER, try a brand new blend on a costly cut of meat, or for a meal that's made for guests!  Trust me, you need to make you and the GF say yuck instead of guests...  Yep, I'm guilty!  [​IMG]

    Oh, for the record, cinnamon ROCKS in some seasonings and most people will argue with each other trying to figure out just what that flavor is! 

  5. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Thanks for the tips CrankyBuzzard, and trust me... I NEVER cook anything for guests if I'm not 100% sure I know what I'm doing. So far I've only ever done ribs for the family. If it turns out well, I'll take a couple ribs to a buddy at works that is also a smoker. So far, I've taken rib samples every time. 

    I have only done chicken and burgers since I got my smoker, mainly because I'm waiting to get a good thermometer. But, Christmas hit the wallet pretty hard this year, partly from the things I bought people, partly from lost hours/overtime at work and the thermometer I want (smoker temp and meat temp) is like $70+ dollars. I might try some ribs before I get it, since I didn't have one for my propane grill I had been smoking on anyway, but I've got a small brisket in my freezer I need to get done. Just afraid of smoking somehting that needs that long to cook without accurate temp monitoring. 
  6. thatcho

    thatcho Meat Mopper

    I am hooked on making my own rubs. There are so many great recipes shared that i have tweaked for my family. No bad advice from this site. Smoke on
  7. riblet

    riblet Newbie

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  8. I make my own rubs but i started to measure my ingrediants and also make a list of what i have done so i can tell which rub is "good" and which one is not worth trying again. and just like the other fellow smokers i try it on my buddies and see what they think and if it is good then i keep it if not i also have a folder for "bad" so i can see what i did so i dont do it again! this also has turned into a reason to have them over to "drink" and smoke meat "PARTY"  AS MY WIFE SAYS !!
  9. bandcollector

    bandcollector Master of the Pit OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Your procedure of trial and error which includes record keeping along with testing on your friends is probably the same process used by the inventors of the "famous rubs" that are out there.

    Smart approach!  Some day we will probably see the RavenClan Rub out there!!

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  10. milt2tle

    milt2tle Fire Starter

    At the risk of seeming to overthink what you're describing ('cause it does make sense) ... however ...

    Please - explaining it to me like I'm a none-too-bright six-year-old kid - walk me through the testing process.  How is it best done so the finished product from the skillet most closely represents what the product will taste like after several hours in the smoker?

    I will appreciate your mentoring ... and - if you prefer - you may PM me your phone number and I'll give you a call and pick your brain that way ... your choice!

    Thanks, again!

  11. brooksy

    brooksy Master of the Pit

    I would say best bet is to start with a known rub you like and tweak it into one you will LOVE.
  12. This is one of my rubs.  It is a savory rub that has a bit of a kick.

  13. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    That's pretty much what I've always done, sometimes just sprinkling a little of 2 or 3 different rubs/seasonings on, which has worked out pretty well in most cases. To be honest I've kinda given up on creating a rub from scratch. I haven't done a whole lot of smoking in the last few months, except some burgers here and there, partly out of laziness, partly due to the fact that I skip lunch at work frequently and would rather just throw something on the grill and get to eating...

    Plus, I really need to focus on honing my skills with this smoker. Although I've gotten a lot of it down, I personally think all of my smokes turned out better when I was just using smoke boxes on my grill, which I think I just lucked out with finding a process that just seemed to work out perfectly, using a lot of guess work. Now I'm being more "scientific" about it, and using a good thermometer, trying to open the door as little as possible, etc.... and it doesn't usually turn out quite as well as it used to, although I haven't really had anything turn out just horrible aside from some dried up burgers the 1st time or two on the smoker. .
  14. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    I'm at work and can't watch your video atm... when you say savory, do mean it's tasty or are you referring to the herb (related to rosemary and thyme)?
  15. By "savory" I mean having more of a salty quality rather than sweet.  Even though it contains sugar, the salty/spicy notes are more pronounced.  I have other rubs where the sweet side is more pronounced to use on pulled pork.
  16. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Oh ok. I'll definitely check that out. While I like a little sweetness to my ribs, I only really like a hint of sweet, but I also like things a little on the spicy side. Do you have a rub you like on brisket? I've got about a 4 pounder or so in the freezer I need to do soon. 
  17. oldcanalsmoke

    oldcanalsmoke Fire Starter

    I and my family love the rub from Walt Disney World's Flame Tree Rest. at the Animal Kingdom. Both sweet and savory, not spicy or hot. I do add variations such as red pepper flakes and some herbs to it. Try it out. I found the recipe here: . 

    The ribs there are awesome!!

  18. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Do you make the sauce to go with it as well? 
  19. oldcanalsmoke

    oldcanalsmoke Fire Starter

    Yes. It's good, but not great.
  20. bluewhisper

    bluewhisper Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Don't ask me for advice, it'll have too much pepper! And no sugar.

    One related thing - try making herb salts that can be rub components. For example, something like sage or rosemary, fresh and about half-dried, run with kosher salt in a blender or food processor to make a green-flecked seasoned salt. Something like that can be generally handy in the kitchen anyway.

    As for the pepper, look for high-quality paprika, not all of them are hot and they can lend a very rich flavor. Some are smoked but if you're using this in a smoker then you already have that covered.

    I suppose sugar helps as a binder, but I just don't have much of a sweet tooth.

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