Sweet, salty and savory with a citrusy “pop” of flavor, this rub will elevate everything you use it on!
What Is A Dry Rub & Why Make It Yourself?
A dry rub is a mixture of salt, sugar, herbs and spices used to flavor meat while also creating a craveable crust. There are plenty of great tasting, pre-made dry rubs lining the shelves of your grocery store, so you might wonder why you’d want to make your own?
There are several benefits that I can think of:
- Customize flavor- Making them yourself allows you to tweak the flavors so that they’re exactly the way YOU like them.
- Cost effective- Dry rubs are mostly salt, which is inexpensive, so making your own is also cost effective.
- Avoid unwanted ingredients- You might be surprised to find that many processed seasonings include ingredients like MSG and hydrogenated oils that you might be trying to avoid. Making your own gives you control over what’s IN your food (and I think that’s pretty important).
What’s In The Rub?
- Coarse Salt
- Coconut Sugar (brown sugar works, too)
- Fresh Lemon and Orange Zest
- Italian Seasoning (here’s a great recipe for making your own)
- Garlic Powder
- Onion powder
- Coarse cracked pepper
Each ingredient contributes in it’s own way:
- Salt – We all know salt is a flavor enhancer, but it serves an additional purpose in a dry rub. It functions as a dry brine, pulling moisture from the outside while keeping the moisture inside. This means juicy, succulent meat with crispy, delicious skin. Use a coarse salt like kosher or coarse sea salt. Do NOT use table salt (it’s too fine and your food will be way too salty)!
- Sugar- Sugar balances the salt and helps with caramelization during cooking, which translates into even more umami flavor! I used coconut sugar because it has a somewhat dry, grainy texture that blends easily with the other ingredients. Brown sugar works just fine, too!
- Seasonings- Seasonings give the rub it’s personality and they’re where your creativity comes into play. I especially love the slightly floral, sweet notes of coriander and the earthiness of paprika with the brightness of the zest.
Citrus Zest- Should You Use Fresh Or Dried?
Even though you can buy dried zest in the spice section, use fresh zest. The stuff in jars just doesn’t have the same flavor and intensity as freshly grated. And don’t throw the fruit away when you’re done! Squeeze it and make this refreshing citrus vinaigrette .
What Does Sweet and Savory Citrus Dry Rub Go With?
The recipe I initially created this rub for is these Citrus Rubbed Chicken Wings With Feta Cream and my boys told me I definitely need to make them again! They are SO good!!!
But wings are just the beginning! Here are a few more delicious ideas:
- Chicken kabobs with pineapple and bell peppers
- Roasted chicken thighs
- Grilled spatchocked or boneless whole chicken (you know how I love my boneless birds!)
- Salmon- I had this a couple nights ago, excellent and quick!
- Pork Chops or Pork Tenderloin
Really, anywhere you want some sweet, salty, citrusy deliciousness!
How To Use Citrus Dry Rub
If you’re using this rub on meat it doesn’t need oil in order to stick, the natural moisture in the meat will be enough. The “rule” is 1 Tbsp of rub per pound of meat. But I’ve never really liked rules so I say eyeball it. I use closer to 1 1/2 Tbs per pound (maybe more)…use enough that there aren’t any bare spots. And make sure to rub it in well. Do this at least 15 minutes (preferably longer) before cooking to let the flavor sink in. And if you have time? Let it sit a couple hours or even overnight to take advantage of the dry brining ability!
Got Extra? Make Compound Butter!
This makes about 3/4 cup of dry rub. If you don’t need that much, you can easily scale it up or down.
But maybe you don’t feel like doing kitchen math? I’ve been there! I have a suggestion for using the extra…make a compound butter! Having compound butter in the freezer is like having a secret flavor bomb just ready and waiting for you.
Compound butter is so easy. For every 1 1/2 Tablespoons of rub you’ll want one 4 oz stick of unsalted butter. Combine softened butter with the rub until it’s smooth and evenly mixed. Place seasoned butter on a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and shape it into a log. Roll it up tightly and freeze. That’s it!
Cut pieces off as you need them. Toss a pat with warm veggies, let it ooze into a baked sweet potato (did this last night…delish 😍) place on top of a hot piece of salmon, push under the skin of chicken before roasting. Yum!
I hope you love this dry rub as much as we do! Enjoy!
I’d love to hear what you make with this Sweet & Savory Citrus Dry Rub and I always love to see your pictures! Tag me on IG or FB @breathingandcooking and let me know!
- 1/4 cup Diamond Kosher Salt (do not use table salt, see notes)
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Sugar (brown sugar works, too)
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1 Tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- zest of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 orange
- 1 tsp cracked pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl, rubbing the mixture well with your fingertips to release the oils in the zest throughout the mix.
*For best results, rub into meat at least 15 minutes before cooking and up to overnight. The longer the rub is on the meat the better the flavor will penetrate. It will also act as a dry brine, pulling moisture from the outside (crispier skin) and keeping moisture inside (juicier meat).
*You can use any coarse salt (kosher or coarse sea salt). The salt measurements here are for Diamond Kosher salt. If using Mortons kosher salt reduce by 1 1/2 Tbsp
*Start with 1 Tbsp of rub for each pound of meat and adjust to your preference, making sure everything is well coated.
*To make a compound butter blend 1 1/2 Tablespoons of rub into each 4 oz stick of softened unsalted butter until smooth and evenly dispersed. Place seasoned butter on a piece of parchment or plastic wrap and shape into a log. Roll up tightly and freeze.