Easy spice rubs for BBQ season

A rub is a mixture of spices and seasonings, usually applied to meat, that helps to enhance its flavour and form a satisfying crust. They are easy to make and are an excellent way to add some zing to your grilled meats. Rubs can be added right before cooking, so they are great to pre-mix and keep on hand for impromptu grilling, but ideally they should be applied a few hours or even days before. And, contrary to what the name suggests, the best way to apply a rub is actually by patting, not rubbing.

Adding the seasoning in advance helps to draw out moisture from the meat which concentrates its natural flavour but it also lets the spices and seasonings penetrate further, seasoning the meat evenly from edge to edge. The upshot: every bite has more intensity and your meat is left with a satisfyingly crunchy crust.

We asked two of Black Sheep Restaurants expert grillers for their favourite easy rubs that they use at home. Both of these can be made ahead in larger batches and stored in airtight jars until needed, so get these prepped up ready to bring out at your next barbecue.

Chef Bao La’s Chicken Rub

25g salt

10g sugar

3g chicken powder

5g chilli powder

The best way to use this rub is to butterfly the chicken first so it will cook quickly and evenly on the grill.

Here’s how to butterfly a chicken:


Courtesy of Food Network

Pat the rub onto your butterflied chicken and leave it overnight in the fridge. By the next day, it will ready to go straight on the barbecue.

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Christopher Mark’s Steak Rub

110g coarse ground pepper

2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp crushed chilli pepper

1 tsp granulated garlic

1 tsp granulated onions

Salt to taste

Coat your steaks in the rub and leave for one hour. Then place the steaks on a searing hot barbecue and cook until they are done to your liking.

Once you’ve got these rubs mastered, read about how to grill it like a local, with our Guide to Hong Kong-style BBQ. Or get more insider cooking tips, with Cooking Myths Debunked.

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