How to season meat

After you have decided what you are going to barbecue, you need to decide what you are going to put on that barbecue: marinade, rub, sauce, or a combination.

Depending on where you are in the country will quite often determine what you are doing with the meat during the preparation and smoking process. In Memphis, they love dry-rubbed ribs and pork with a sauce on the side. North Carolina is known for chopped whole hog with a vinegar-based sauce poured over the top before serving, while South Carolina serves up a mustard-based sauce. Texas is big on brisket, and depending on where you are in Texas will determine what kind of rub you’re using. White sauce on chicken began in Alabama, and burnt ends started in Kansas City where a thicker tomato-based sauce can be found in almost every BBQ joint around town.

Now here’s where it gets confusing. With the popularity of barbecue growing around the country, take everything you’ve just read above and throw it out the window. People love all kinds of barbecue, and as people move around the county you start to see these styles blending and changing.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a traditional rib rub heavy in paprika, salt, brown sugar, garlic, onion and other spices and then lathering that rack with sauce right at the end of the cooking process. If there is one thing to remember about barbecue this is it; make it the way you and your family love it.


  1. A key to good barbecue is the addition of a rub before the cooking process and sauce either on the side or directly on the meat at the end. Marinades add another layer to the flavour profile, but don’t always need to be used. Marinades (or brines) will help penetrate a flavour into the meat prior to cooking and aide in the process of breaking down the meat to help with tenderizing.
  2. Rubs added prior to the cooking process help pull some moisture to the top of the meat, mixing with the spices and creating a crust or bark on the outside of the meat, adding a whole new layer of flavour when the meat is done.
  3. Be careful with adding sauce on you barbecue too early in the smoking process as a lot of sauces have higher sugar content and can burn if put on too soon. Sauces once again help build on the layering of different flavours, and I think that’s what makes barbecue so interesting. You have so many ways to add layers of flavour that you truly can become your family’s backyard pitmaster with creating new and exciting dishes.
  4. Good luck, and keep on smoking!

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