The Steak Rub Styles

Post Bistecca Rub

Which Rub for your Ideal Steak

I often describe the seasoning tools as the indispensable technical baggage that every self-respecting Grillmaster must have available in his know-how in order to operate at its best. This is an affirmation that, although true, can however be extended to the entire kitchen world, as an appropriate knowledge of Brines and Marinades is generically attributable to any cook worthy of the name. If you think about it the only exception is represented by rub. The rubs are the most expressive one in the world of barbecue: the powerful and dry heat of hardwood charcoal or propane gas is not even remotely approachable from that of the methane gas in the home network or (worse) from the electrical resistance of a oven and it seems made to enhance the creation of a robust and kicking bark. Is not this the very soul of the barbecue?

Post Rub3Convincing people then of the effectiveness of a rub is relatively simple: any demonstration or show cooking is able to highlight very effectively how it is possible to make a simple chicken breast unique by applying a simple veil of oil and a sprinkling of our secret ingredient. The challenge begins to become more hard (and more enjoyable) instead when it comes down in the sub-category of steak rub: we are Italian and informally explaining to the many foreign friends who usually read us that here we are slightly obsessed with the respect for the raw material, especially when concerning beef steaks. Here there is the commonplace that “the flesh should taste of meat” and that “if the meat is good it does not need anything else”. Which would be a bit like saying that if my grandfather cultivates an excellent salad, he does not even need oil and vinegar to be seasoned … So it’s clear that winning the initial mistrust in this field requires more effort. In the classes dedicated to direct cooking that I had the opportunity to chair over the years I have always enjoyed letting attendants taste three steaks, each enriched in the right dose, with rubs of intensity and breadth, without previously stopping in unnecessary and premature explanations. After tasting, I always asked them how many preferred each type and inevitably the survey ended up dividing the students in equal parts, with all due prejudices.

Also on the steaks rubs then, as for everyone else, each of us has his own tastes and preferences. However, if in the world of generic rubs there is a reference classification in which to identify one’s favorite style, unfortunately the same can not be said for steak ones. Which styles exist and which features do they have? From any online search or textbooks that each of us has in our physical or virtual library, we can easily realize that there is no real official classification. Why don’t we try to build one just for play, maybe reporting a typical recipe for each?

Texas Style Rub

Texas Style RubThat is the rubs that most respect the raw material. If we try to define the style, we can certainly say that it contains an important dose of garlic and can not exclude the pepper, of any type. The mind naturally refers to the classic rub that merges its own existence with the concept of Texan barbecue, or the SPG. However, I would also extend the category boundaries to the Montreal genre, although this defines a seasoning style and technically does not describe a real rub. The sense is to include all those non-invasive rubs, which leave a lot of space to a net, savory and tasty bark but without excessive customization.

Commercial Examples: Sucklebusters SPG, Dizzy Pig Raising the Steak, Cowtown Steak, Oakridge Santa Maria


2 parts grounded Black Pepper
2 parts Garlic powder
2 parts Paprika
1 part Salt
1 partt Onion powder
1 part dehydrated Coriader
1 part Celery seeds
1 part dehydrated Orange zests

Mediterranean Style Rub

Mediterranean Style RubIt includes all the rubs that have a strong herbaceous and aromatic component, mainly attributable to Rosemary or Thyme, but also sage, coriander which usually prevail over the salty and peppery side. Generally also in this case the presence of garlic is significant even if less invasive than in the previous category. Commercially it is not a very busy road for what concerns the cooking of the steak, representing in fact a possibility exploited by a limited public.

Commercial Examples: Dizzy Pig Mediterraneanish, Don Marco’s Dancing Sirtaki


2 parts dehidrated Bay Leafs
2 parts dehidrated Thyme
2 parts White Pepper
2 parts Salt
1 part Garlic powder
1 part dehydrated Rosemary

Memphis Style Rub

Memphis Style RubThe Memphis Style is the alternative to Kansas City one for the preparation of the Barbecue Ribs. Compared to the latter, it has a more simple and spicy profile but above all definitely less sweet. Very frequent the presence of mustard powder, nutmeg, cloves, onion powder as well as some aromatic herbs, all these characteristics also make of it an excellent steak rub. In this category I also include all the rubs designed to apply layers on Brisket in accompaniment to an SPG, also excellent steak rub. Compared to the previous categories, here is a dose of sugar, although not excessive. It then falls into the so-called “technical rub”, or rub that can be used in direct cooking but paying particular attention to cooking, to search for caramelization avoiding bitter burns.

Commercial Examples: Big poppa Smoker Double Secret Steak Rub, Sucklebuster 1836


4 parts Paprika
2 parts Sage
2 parts Garlic powder
2 parts Salt
1 part Onion powder
1 part Black Pepper
1/2 part Celery Seeds
1/2 part Mustard powder
1/2 part Muscovado Sugar
1/2 part dehidrated Origan
1/2 part dehydrated Thyme
1/2 part Cumin

Steakhouse Style Rub

Steakhouse Style RubThe style contains all the steak rubs that seek an exaggerated wideness, through the adoption in the recipe of many ingredients contributing the UMAMI factor such as mushrooms, dried tomatoes, coffee, cocoa. In this case it is also a technical rub but often compared to previous styles the presence of sugar is more important. Very often the recipe is decidedly articulate and complex but without ever losing sight of the goal of balance. We can also include the sub-group Cow Boy Rub, easily attributable to the homonymous and famous McCormick rub, which, however, compared to the general category is decidedly more unbalanced and inclined to prevail the notes of chili and coffee that give the steak a deep, spicy and captivating profile.

Commercial Examples: Oakridge Carne Crosta, Don Marco’s King Cacao, McCormick GrillMates Cowboy Rub


3 parts grounded Coffee 
2 parts smoked paprika
2 parts Cononut Sugar
2 parts Salt
1 part Garlic powder
1 part Onion powder
1 part Chili pepper powder
1 part bitter Cocoa powder 
1 part Cinnamon powder
1 part Black Pepper
1 part grounded dried Porcini Mashroom
1/2 part Cloves powder
1/2 part Nutmeg

Now you have a map in your hand within which you can move. You just have to find your way to reach the Nirvana of your ideal steak. Are you more types from Texas, Mediterranean, Memphis or Steakhouse?

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