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BBQ Rubs vs Seasoning

What's the difference?

In the world of low and slow barbecue, there are countless rubs and seasonings, all designed to enhance the flavour of your food from herbs, spices or the addition of MSG (everybody's favourite).

So what makes seasoning different from rubs, and how does this affect smoking? Not knowing the difference can ruin your cooks, so read on to find out more.

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The main difference: Seasoning enhances food’s natural flavour while Rubs are a dish’s main source of flavour.


Think beyond just salt and pepper. Seasoning is a combo of evenly grounded herbs and spices that bring out the natural flavours of food and add a little kick of flavour.

Seasoning with salt will reduce the moisture content of food and enhance its natural flavour. Seasoning with herbs like cumin, oregano, thyme, sage and others accompany the taste of food.

Purpose: To enhance the natural flavour of food
How and when to use: Sprinkled after cooking
Types: Salt, pepper and herbs
Texture: Finely ground


BBQ or spice rubs combine ground spices, salt and sugar designed to be rubbed on raw foods like meat to provide the flavour profile to a cook.

Rubs are applied to meat before smoking to create a thorough flavour coating and left to ’sweat' which draws out the moisture to which the smoke sticks. Think Pork Belly Burnt Ends, Beef Brisket, Pork Shoulder and more.

Purpose: The main source of flavour
How and when to use: Applied as a coating before smoking
Types: Spices
Texture: Coarse