Difference between a rub and seasoning

The difference between the rubs and the seasoning on the grocery store shelves.

Food Rubs

What are Rubs?

  • Blend of ground spices used to add flavor and surface texture to meats.
  • Rubs form a crusty layer or coating on the outside of food which locks juices inside, called a bark.
  • Rub spices are usually coarsely ground and applied more liberally than seasonings.
  • In addition to spices, salt and sugar may be added to the rub, the salt for flavor and the sugar for caramelization.
  • Rubs typically contain higher amounts of salt, herbs, crushed garlic or onion added for flavor impact. When used in a marinade, this is most beneficial.

Common foods that are rubbed

Rubs are mainly used to quickly and easily add flavor to meats, poultry, fish/seafood.

Also great when sprinkled on vegetables prior to grilling.

There are a large number of recipes where rubs are used to season a dish, e.g., soups, stews, chilis, pasta dishes, dips, spreads/dressings, etc.

Recommended Pork Rub

Recommended Beef Rub

Recommended Fish Rub

Recommended Poultry Rub

Recommended General Seasoning



Rubs are usually applied just before the cooking of the food.

Rubs are most often applied to grilled meats.

Cooking methods

Cooking with rubs is almost always done using a dry heat method of cooking where almost no water is used in cooking:

  • Grilling
  • Baking
  • Roasting

 Food Seasonings

What are Seasoning Mixes?

  • Blend of dried herbs and spices (and salt) used to enhance and/or add flavor to a dish.
  • The timing of when seasonings are added will affect the food being cooked.
  • Most beneficial when moisture/liquid is present in the recipe, e.g., water, broth, sauce, etc. in order to bring out the flavors of the individual components of the blend.
  • Seasonings typically contain higher amounts of dried, leafy herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, etc. that benefit from hydration.
  • Seasonings may have ingredients like crushed garlic or onion added to increase the flavor impact.

Common foods that are seasoned

Seasonings are used to impart flavor to any dish that otherwise would be considered bland or boring without it.

There are a large number of recipes where seasoning mixes are used to season a dish, e.g., soups, stews, chilis, pasta dishes, dips, spreads/dressings, sauces, etc.


Seasoning Mixes are usually added at the beginning of cooking.

Cooking methods

Seasoning Mixes can be used in just about any application and are most commonly used where a moist heat (or sometimes dry heat*) method is used:

  • Sautéing
  • Stewing
  • Braising
  • Baking*
  • Roasting*

Has anyone had a good experience with rubs or seasoning that you wouldn’t mind sharing?  I don’t mind checking them out.  If you have any ideas, questions or thoughts, please let me know.

10 Comments on "Difference between a rub and seasoning"

  1. I think your site is very interesting, you have good points on meat and also the difference between a rub and seasoning. I found this very helpful.


    • So glad you stopped by my site.
      Knowing the difference between a rub and a seasoning is not something you will use daily but most people have not idea there was a difference. Just sharing more useful information with my friends.

  2. What a great article I like the way a rub is described as the bark on a tree. I am cooking a family roast on Sunday can you recommend a good rub for a beef joint?

    • Thanks for stopping by my site.
      There are times when I do like the really crispy bark on a piece of meat but most generally I like a more conservative rub.
      Your roast you will be doing, I recommend not putting a rub on at all, perhaps a little salt and pepper prior to cooking. Let your family add what they want once it is done.
      Good luck with your roast and please stop by anytime.

  3. Thanks for the class in seasoning and rubs. I had no idea there was a difference.
    If I add herbs to a rub, will they create a burnt taste?

    • Thanks for stopping by.
      I recommend adding herbs to a rub in small increments to prevent an overload. I would not be too concerned about it tasting like a burnt taste. Glad you enjoyed the blog.

  4. Well I never knew the difference and you explained that more simply than any cookbook I own.

    • Thanks for stopping by.
      Glad I could help with showing you the difference between Rubs and Seasoning.
      It’s not something you really need to know but it is something to add to your font of useless information to amaze your friends. LOL
      Again, glad you stopped by. Please check out our recipes.

  5. You know, i always wondered what was the difference between a rub and seasoning. I always assumed they were the same.

    Turns our I’ve been using seasonings on my chicken when cooking on the stove and a rub on my ribs when i cooked the on the grill.

    When i make ribs i like to use salt, pepper, honey, and brown sugar.

    When i make chicken i like to use salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic.

    Do you have any awesome BBQ sauce recipes that you wouldn’t mind sharing?

    Would be much appreciated 🙂

    • Thanks for looking at my page. I know exactly what you mean, I felt the same way you did about rubs and seasoning, I had no idea there was a difference.
      Your ribs and chicken sound very good.
      I do have a rub recipe and a sauce recipe that I have personally developed. The sauce is a homemade simmered sauce that everyone simply loves. But the thing is I will be selling the recipe…sorry, not free.
      Keep an eye for the sauce recipe and more free recipes in the future.

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