The Best Ever Spice Rub

I can't believe it's taken me this long to do a newsletter on spice rubs/blends (apparently I've been too occupied making and using them to actually write about them). They're essential year round, but are especially necessary in summer (better late than never). Anything destined for a grill can benefit from a sprinkling (or deluge) of fragrant spices: meat, poultry, fish, tofu, vegetables, all of it. With an array of spice rubs and blends on hand, you can really never get bored, even if you're cooking things the same way every time.

So, here's what I'm proposing: load up on fresh spices (I've been getting mine mailed to me by my friend Charlie's company, Spice House; so easy, so great), carve out an hour, and go to town. You can probably make ten different versions in 60 minutes. They'll keep for several months if you store them in airtight containers away from heat and light, so that gets you literally a world of different flavors at your fingertips for the rest of the summer and into fall (if you don't use them up before then).

There are a ton of recipes to choose from here ("recipes" is a generous term; you're really just stirring stuff together). The first set are spice rubs, including my friend Chris Schlesinger's version, which remains the best and most versatile one in my repertoire. Then there are nine different spice blends that you can buy in any store, but that are infinitely better when you make them yourself: curry powder, five-spice, garam masala, za'atar and more.

I can't overstate how satisfying (and freeing) it is to have a stockpile of incredible spice mixes at your disposal whenever you cook. Or maybe I've overstated it already. Anyway, they're the best, sorry it took me so long, and have a wonderful weekend.

—Mark


From Chris Schlesinger, cookbook author, restaurateur, and good friend. This is, hands down, the best rub in my repertoire. It’s versatile and flavorful, spicy without being hot, and just a touch of sugar promotes a deeply colored crust. Delicious on ribs, salmon, chicken, vegetables—just about anything.

CHRIS'S BEST EVER SPICE RUB


Grinding and blending your own toasted spices yields much more potent blends than even the good stuff you get online. If you don’t have a spice grinder, use a clean coffee grinder and designate it for this purpose. Once done, store the finished spice mix away from heat and light; unless noted, they’ll keep for several months. You can turn any of the recipes here (with the exception of Pickling Spice) into a rub by combining 1 tablespoon or more of the spice mix with 1 tablespoon salt; you can also add some brown sugar if you like, up to 1 tablespoon for each of the recipes here.

9 SPICE BLENDS YOU CAN MAKE YOURSELF


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Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.