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Home How To Season Meat For BBQs and Smokers
Home How To Season Meat For BBQs and Smokers

How To Season Meat For BBQs and Smokers

The sizzling sound of meat and the aromatic wafts of smoke filling the air – there’s something captivating about the art of barbecuing and smoking. Whether you’re a seasoned BBQer or just starting, the key to unlocking the perfect harmony of flavours lies in the meticulous seasoning of your meat. In the world of BBQs and smokers, seasoning is more than just adding some salt and pepper; it’s the perfect mixture of spices and herbs that transform raw cuts into mouthwatering masterpieces.

This article explores the best way to season your meat for BBQs and smokers, the perfect homemade seasoning and which herbs and spices best pair with certain meats.

Seasoning The Meat For BBQs and Smokers

There are a few ways to season meat and get delicious results. However, deciding the proper way to season the meat depends on a few factors, including

  • Type of meat: This is the most important factor, as you need to pair your meat with the right herbs and spices (more on that later).
  • Size of meat.
  • How you plan to serve the meat.
  • How you are going to cook the meat.

But let’s make it simple. There are two ways to season meat: a marinade or rub.

What is a marinade?

A marinade is a liquid mixture of ingredients, often including acidic components, oils, herbs, spices and other flavourings, used to soak and flavour meat, poultry, seafood or vegetables before cooking.

The primary purpose of marinating is to enhance the food’s flavour, tenderness and moisture content. The acidic components in a marinade, such as vinegar or citrus juice, help break down the meat’s connective tissues, making it more tender.

Marinating times can vary depending on the type of food and the desired outcome. Some marinades are designed for a quick flavour infusion and may only require a short marinating time, while others benefit from longer marination to achieve deeper penetration of flavours.

What is a dry rub?

A dry rub is just what it sounds like – seasonings and spices rubbed onto the meat’s surface before it gets cooked. Dry rubs can be made from a range of spices; however, the most common ingredients include salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.

So, how does a dry rub work? The salt draws moisture from the surface of the meat, which allows the flavours to penetrate. The rub then creates a crisp and flavourful crust on the meat when it is grilled or smoked.

Marinade vs dry rub: Which to use when?

A marinade is typically beneficial when you plan to cook a cut of meat that tends to become tough and dry when cooked. Meats such as brisket and pork loin benefit from marinade.

If you plan on cooking meat that is already fatty and tender, then a dry rub is the best way to season it. Some of the best meats to season with dry rub include steak, tender chicken breast and fish.

How To Make Your Own Seasoning

The most common ingredients in a dry rub are salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder. However, the recipe below includes a few more ingredients to enhance the flavour of chicken, pork, burger patties and even steak.


  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

It’s very easy to make this dry rub BBQ meat seasoning. All you need to do is mix the ingredients in a bowl and either store it in an airtight container or, if you’re not going to use it straight away, put it in a zip-lock bag and in the freezer.

Pairings: Seasonings, Meats, And Sauces

The best seasoning and sauce pairings for meat depend on personal preferences and the type of meat you’re working with. Here are some classic and popular pairings to different kinds of meat.



  • Black pepper brings out the robust flavours
  • Cumin provides an earthy and slightly nutty flavour
  • Oregano works perfectly with minced beef
  • Mustard seeds add a mild tang to the meat
  • Thyme adds a subtle herbal note
  • Garlic complements the taste of the meat




  • Rosemary adds an earthy and fragrant flavour
  • Thyme complements the natural sweetness of pork 
  • Sage provides a savoury flavour
  • Garlic enhances the overall flavour 
  • Paprika adds a smokey and slightly sweet flavour 




  • Basil offers a sweet and slightly peppery flavour
  • Marjoram adds a sweet flavour 
  • Paprika adds a subtle smokey yet sweet flavour 
  • Thyme enhances the savoury flavour of the chicken


  • Lemon garlic butter
  • BBQ sauce
  • Honey mustard 
  • Teriyaki



  • Dill offers a fresh flavour
  • Turmeric adds an earthy flavour and vibrant colour 
  • Parsley adds a fresh and mild herbal flavour
  • Paprika adds a subtle smokey flavour 


  • Lemon dill sauce
  • Tartar sauce
  • Mango salsa
  • Butter and white wine



  • Mint enhances the natural flavours of lamb
  • Rosemary complements the strong taste of lamb
  • Cumin adds warmth and depth of flavour
  • Garlic enhances the savoury flavour
  • Coriander adds a citrusy note to the lamb


  • Mint sauce
  • Red wine reduction with rosemary
  • Tzatziki

  • Pomegranate glaze
  • Find BBQs And Smokers At Home Fires

    With so many amazing flavours and meals to make, having a BBQ or smoker in your backyard is a no-brainer! Whether you’re looking for a gas BBQ or a brand-new smoker, we’ve got a wide range to choose from at Home Fires.

    Not sure which BBQ or smoker is best for you? Our team of experts is here to answer any questions and provide you with the best option based on your needs and preferences. Contact us online or visit us in-store today! We look forward to helping you on your journey towards cooking and smoking delicious meats!

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