Marinade or Dry Rub?

I am so glad to be back at the grill this week. It’s easy, tasty, and the smoky smell just makes me feel summertime happy. I teach a lot of grilling classes every summer and love learning new techniques too. Here’s a common question I’m asked.

Marinade or Dry Rub? Here’s the meat of it…

Marinades are liquids that are made of herbs, spices, and an acid—usually a citrus, vinegar, or alcohol. They not only add flavor to your meat, but also tenderize it. The acids breaks down connective tissues and make meat more tender. If you are cooking a protein that is already tender (fish, chicken breasts, or individual steaks), then you should marinate briefly for 2 hours or less. Tougher cuts of meat (briskets, roasts, London broil) should be marinated in the fridge anywhere from 4 hours to overnight. Don’t leave your meat marinating for longer than overnight. Room temperature meat can cause food poisoning, so do not leave your meat marinating at room temperature for longer than 40 minutes. Large sealable plastic bags or non-reactive dishes such as a glass or ceramic with plastic wrap over the top are perfect for marinating.

Use leftover marinade to baste the meat or chicken. DO NOT use it as a sauce, it is not food safe to eat uncooked. It can be used if you boil it for 3 – 5 minutes.

Rubs are mixes of spices and seasoning that add flavor but don’t tenderize. Dry rubs are, in fact, dry and powdery. Paste rubs are mixed with enough of a wet ingredient, like oil, soy sauce, or mustard, to form a paste. Both kinds of rubs should be patted onto the meat to form a coating or crust. Dry rubs are wonderful on individual steaks, and dark meat boneless chicken. I also use them on white meat chicken pieces.

Rubs can be applied just before cooking, but for more impact you can put a rub on a few hours before you plan to cook and store the meat in the fridge.

Here are a few great marinade and dry rub recipes below to enjoy.
My Go-To Grilling Marinade
Fresh Herb Marinade, Summertime Favorite
Pineapple Soy Marinade
Dried Herb Rub
Smoky Spiced Sugar Rub
Red Wine BBQ Chicken
Garlicky Lemon-Thyme-Marinated Lamb Chops

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