Person rubbing meat with seasonings with question are seasonings and rubs the same

Are Seasonings And Rubs The Same? We've Got The Scoop

If you follow any kind of grilling recipe, you most certainly have come across seasonings, rubs, and of course, marinades as an ingredient. While it may seem these three pantry staples are interchangeable, they are unique. So, if you’re wondering which works best for what, you’ve come to the right place because we’ve got the inside scoop on rubs, seasonings, and marinades.

What are seasonings?

Seasonings like Craig’s All-Purpose Seasoning are a blend of herbs and spices (which are plant substances like pepper and garlic) that enhance or add aroma or flavor, from a hint of sweet to a kick of heat to a dish. Even the addition of lemon or lime juice, oil, and vinegar can be considered seasonings. While it is often noted that you should add seasonings to a recipe toward the end of cooking, seasoning throughout the cooking process helps infuse flavor and bring deliciousness to every dish. So, when a recipe mentions to add salt to your boiling water for pasta, don’t skip this step; throw a good tablespoon in for every four quarts of water. On the other hand, meat like ribeye, new york strip, top sirloin, filet mignon, and similar cuts need nothing more than a quick shake of seasoning.

What are rubs?

There are two kinds of rubs; a dry rub is a coarse mix of spices and seasonings (usually in larger pieces of herbs and spices) that add flavor and texture to food, like ribs, brisket, and chicken. A paste rub is a dry rub mixed with a wet ingredient such as soy sauce, mustard, or oil to form a paste. You can pat a rub (dry or paste) with your hands onto your food before or during the cooking process.  For the best flavor, apply the rub at least one hour before cooking. How much you rub onto the meat is up to you; however, larger cuts like a brisket have a lot of meat you can’t reach with a dry or paste rub, so apply liberally.

What are marinades?

Mix some spices, with a 3:1 ratio of fat like olive oil, to an acidic liquid, aka vinegar, wine, or citrus juice, and you have a marinade. The addition of an acidic liquid can tenderize tough, thin cuts of meat like flank steak, pork chops, and meat cut up for kebabs and stir-fries, and bring out the dish’s flavor.  While some people prefer to marinate chicken breasts in an acidic marinade, a dairy-based marinade with yogurt or buttermilk can help tenderize the proteins in chicken without turning it rubbery or mushy, which can occur easier with an acidic based marinade. Marinating times can be as short as 15 to 30 minutes for shellfish and seafood, to 3 to 24 hours for chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. For vegetables, a quick 30-minute soak should suffice.  In the end, regardless of the meat you’re marinating, never let the meat soak for more than 24 hours, or you’ll end up with mush for dinner. 

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