All Purpose BBQ Spice Rub

By Ann Fulton

Whip up a batch of this easy mix and pair with a protein of choice and your preferred cooking method for year-round, all-purpose seasoning.
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Taco seasoning isn’t the only spice blend that will serve you well all year round. From chicken to shrimp, pork and tofu, this simple spice rub adds incredible flavor…whether grilled, sautéed, baked or slow cooked!


This is one of those kitchen staples I rely on heavily because it makes creating a variety of flavorful meals feel almost effortless. And though we tend to associate the word barbecue with summer grilling, this simple rub can be used extensively all year round.

So while you may use it this weekend to flavor grilled pork or chicken, perhaps bolstering with a layer of your favorite barbecue sauce, it will serve you equally well on a cold winter evening with stovetop, oven, and slow cooker applications.

If you’re a shrimp fan, you may be interested in my family’s favorite way to enjoy this rub, which takes less than 10 minutes to cook in a skillet or on the grill. Basically, for every pound of peeled and deveined shrimp (thawed if frozen, patted dry if necessary) you toss with one tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the spice rub. Then sear the shrimp in a lightly oiled or sprayed skillet (or on the grill) on both sides until just cooked through.

That’s it! And it’s delicious. (At least my family will tell you it is!)

Another idea? A simple but flavorful way to enjoy chicken is to cook it in your Crock Pot and then shred it and toss with barbecue sauce. It’s perfect for salads, sandwiches, tacos, and stuffing into baked potatoes. For added flavor, coat the chicken with a layer of this rub first, sticking with the ratio of one tablespoon rub per pound of protein.

The same applies to pork. I sometimes cook pork tenderloins in my slow cooker, and then shred  them and toss with barbecue sauce for lean pulled pork sandwiches. (Try topping with this slaw. So good!)

The rub would also be a lovely way to perk up simply baked salmon or a white fish like cod, tilapia, or flounder: brush or spray the fillets with olive oil and then dust both sides with the spice blend. Again, you may follow the guideline of one tablespoon each oil and rub per pound of fish.

A friend told me that she coated cubed tofu with this rub and then seared it on the stovetop. When done, she tossed the tofu with a little barbecue sauce and said it was delicious. I haven’t tried it myself, but I plan to. For a flavorful plant-based meal, you could stuff the tofu in a soft taco or wrap and top with the aforementioned slaw-or create a bowl with these ingredients, adding greens, a grain of choice, avocado, tomatoes, and/or other vegetables of choice.

Of course, we traditionally think of using barbecue rubs in conjunction with grilled meats, and that absolutely works, too. A few weekends ago, we grilled pork tenderloins that were coated in this rub.

You may apply the rub just before grilling or, for added flavor with heartier meats like chicken and pork, treat it as a marinade and let the coated meat hang out in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.

Whip up a batch of this easy mix and pair with a protein of choice and your preferred cooking method for year-round, all-purpose seasoning.

For instant flavor, rub this mix on chicken, pork, turkey burgers, shrimp kabobs, tofu, salmon, vegetables for grilling, and more. Your favorite BBQ sauce may be brushed on at the end, although this rub will provide good stand-alone flavor.


If you’re looking for a tried-and-true homemade barbecue sauce to make on occasion, I heartily recommend this one. Recently, I’ve been experimenting with a new 4-ingredient sriracha barbecue sauce, and its sweet heat has been a hit with my family. They especially loved it on the grilled pork tenderloins I mentioned above.

I thought you might like to experiment with this speedy sauce option, too. So, short of a photo and separate recipe post, here it is. If you try, please report back!


4 Ingredient Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Yield: ~½ cup (easy to double, triple, or more)
• ¼ cup (68g) ketchup
• 1½ tablespoons (22g) sriracha sauce (may adjust to taste)
• 1 tablespoons (20g) maple syrup
• 1 tablespoon (20g) blackstrap molasses
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl or jar and refrigerate until ready to use.
You can make this sauce in advance and it will keep for several weeks in the fridge.


Whip up a batch of this easy mix and pair with a protein of choice and your preferred cooking method for year-round, all-purpose seasoning.
How long do dried herbs and spices last?

Generally speaking, dried herbs and spices will taste best if used within 1-2 years. There are exceptions worth noting. I also find that spices maintain their freshness better when stored in a glass jar instead of plastic and away from any direct sunlight.

Here’s a rough guideline as to the shelf life of the seasonings in your kitchen:
Indefinite: vanilla extract, salt (other extracts will fade in 2-3 years)
3-4 years: whole spices (such as unground peppercorns, whole allspice, nutmeg, cloves, cumin and caraway seeds):
2-4 years: ground spices (such as cumin, ginger, paprika, and chili powder)
1-3 years: ground and whole leafy herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary, and most seasoning blends

Buying smaller quantities, when able, is a good idea. Finally, if you’re not sure, take the cap off the bottle and smell it. If you don’t get much aroma, chances are you won’t get the best possible flavor either.

Helpful hint: If you, like me, refill spice jars from stores that sell in bulk, write the date on a piece of masking tape and stick it to the bottom of the jar. Then you’ll always know how fresh your spices may (or may not) be.

Whip up a batch of this easy mix and pair with a protein of choice and your preferred cooking method for year-round, all-purpose seasoning.

Keep a jarful of this flavorful spice mix on hand so that when it’s almost dinner and you’ve barely formulated a plan, it will rescue you!


All Purpose BBQ Spice Rub
Yield: approximately 1 cup; easy to double or triple as needed

(16 tablespoons per batch, or enough for 16 pounds of meat; 1 tablespoon = 10g)
Made with spice cabinet staples, this flavor-packed seasoning mix will serve you well all year round. It's ideal for all sorts of grilled proteins in the warmer months and will make the most of stovetop, slow cooker, and baked dishes as well.

• ⅓ cup (66g) packed brown sugar
• ¼ cup sweet paprika
• 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
• 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1 tablespoon table salt)
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
• 1 tablespoon onion powder (not onion salt)
• 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Mix all of the ingredients together. Store in a jar or airtight container until ready to use. The spice rub will keep for many months when stored in a cool, dry place, and will be more flavorful for longer when starting with fresher spices.

To use: As a general rule of thumb, coat each pound of protein (pork, chicken, shrimp, tofu, etc.) with 1 tablespoon of oil and then toss with 1 tablespoon of the spice rub. If the meat is wet upon removing from packaging, blot it dry first.


• If you’d like to add a hint of Tex-Mex flavor, add 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander to the mix.


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