Dry Rub or Sauce? A Quick Guide to Flavoring BBQ

If you hear the word barbecue, does your mouth begin to water? But what does BBQ mean to you?
There are many ways to BBQ—different meats, cuts of meat, smoked or not smoked, and secret or not-so-secret seasonings. Preference is unique to everyone, but experts agree on some key facts when it comes to BBQ.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint


Some people believe the terms “grilling” and “BBQ” are synonymous, but they are actually quite different.

Grilling takes little time to cook at high temperatures with direct heat. It’s great for cooking meat such as burgers, steak or chicken.

BBQ, on the other hand, is cooked long, low and slow. It uses low temperatures and indirect heat to cook fatty meats like ribs, brisket, shoulder and butts.

This matters when it comes to choosing how to flavor your meat.


To rub, or not to rub, is that a question?

This is when the competition begins. BBQ masters (either self-proclaimed or otherwise) know that longer cooking times allow for stronger flavor—the seasoning works its way into the meat without burning, carbonizing or turning bitter in the low temperatures.

So is it best to use wet or dry ingredients to season BBQ meat? That’s up to you. It’s a matter of choice between one, the other, or a combination.

A dry rub is best applied to meat at least 15 minutes before cooking. Allowing it to sit at room temperature before hitting the heat gives the flavors of the meat and rub to combine.

An added bonus with a dry rub is the bold flavor and crunchy crust it forms as it cooks.

It’s best to wait until the last hour to apply wet sauce to BBQ meat. Due to the high level of sugars, sauce will dry out, caramelize or burn when put on too early.

Smoke is also a contributor to the flavor of BBQ meat and should be taken into consideration when choosing how to season.


Ah, the delicious taste of smoke

Serious BBQ’ers consider smoke wood to be an ingredient just as important as a rub or sauce. The aroma of the burning wood infuses the meat as it cooks and enhances the flavors of seasonings.

If you are going for a sweet flavor for your meat, use Apple flavored wood in your BBQ pit. Hickory wood is stronger and gives meat a bacon-like flavor. Mesquite is bold and great for brisket.

Just beware: the smell will lure the neighbors over long before it’s done cooking!


Oldies but goodies

Other timeless methods of BBQ include injecting marinade directly into the meat before cooking and brining the meat in salt water to enhance flavor. These are tried and true ways to make meat tender and retain moisture.

No matter how you go—with your own concoction or grandpa’s secret recipe—BBQ is a mouthwatering treat that is definitely worth waiting for.

KerrySelect offers a variety of smoke and grill flavors to enhance your BBQ game. Contact us with questions (or grandpa’s secret recipe) about any of our taste ingredients.

Contact us to find out more.