5 Best Spices for Grilling
What’s the secret to great grilling? Any grill master will tell you it’s the right grill, the right timing, and the right ingredients. But a set of grilling spices is your secret weapon. Spices give all your grilled foods, be it veggies, meats, chicken, ribs, and yes, even meat substitutes, fantastic flavor—all while keeping it healthy since you’re not adding fat or calories. You’d be surprised how just a few versatile single spices are combined to form endless rubs, such as blackened, Creole, or Cajun seasoning for barbecues in St. Louis, Memphis, and Carolinian styles. The best part? You can combine spices right at home to make your own custom blends.
Here are the five best grilling spices:
1. Black Pepper
Black pepper is arguably the most well-known and most used spice. It adds a mild but spicy kick to foods, and its usefulness is unmatched. It’s so versatile you can pretty much use it on anything from salads and vegetables to meat and chicken. In fact, entire dishes have been created using this spice, such as steak au poivre and Asian dishes like black pepper chicken or steak. Anything you grill, from veggies to meat, will benefit from some black pepper.
Another multifaceted spice is paprika. It’s typically made of a variety of ground red peppers, which provide a little bit of heat, depending on the type of paprika and the red peppers used. It works well with grilled chicken or pork and even some vegetables like grilled asparagus or squash.
3. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder is another spice staple. Nearly every cuisine around the world uses garlic. Garlic powder stands up well to the power of the grill, and you can use it on various vegetables or meats. You can even mix it into ground beef or turkey when grilling burgers. Or you can blend it with the other spices listed for your own custom blend as it complements the other spices nicely.
While most people think of cumin as a key ingredient in curries, it does show up in many other cuisines. Many South and Central American dishes feature this spice, and it is an essential ingredient when cooking chili. Cumin gives your dishes an earthy flavor, and you can use it with grilled vegetables, beans, beef, chicken, and pork.
5. Smoked Sea Salt
Just four elements—salt, fat, acid, and heat—form the basis of all flavor and taste of food. So, no list of grilling spices would be complete without smoked sea salt. The smoked flavor adds depth to your dishes without having to go through the process of smoking. It is mild and sweet with hints of maple, adding flavor to your meal and bringing out hidden tastes you might otherwise not notice. Use it in rubs for chicken, beef, or pork. It’s also great on grilled corn or even with a simple, fresh summer tomato salad to accompany all your great grilled food.
Add These Spices to Your Summer Grilling Recipes
With these five spices, you can create your very own blends and rubs, or you can mix them to try and recreate the combinations you already love. For instance, blackened, Cajun, and Creole seasoning combine black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and dried herbs. Whereas barbecue flavors—whether done in a Memphis, St. Louis, or Carolina style—all use a combination of these spices paired with sugar and herbs or other spices like mustard. So, with these five best grilling spices, you will be able to make endless flavor combinations for all your summer grilling needs.