Cooking With Confidence
dry rubs
Pantry Staples
by Nick

Three Dry Rubs

Well, it’s officially grilling season here in Colorado. The weather has been just fantastic and will hopefully continue to be amazing for the next few months before it starts getting unbearably hot.

I realize that depending on where you live you might be hating me right now. It’s still very cold in large chunks of the country, but have no fear. Warm weather is on the way.

I’ve been working on a few different rubs that go really great on grilled food and I thought you might all benefit from them. These are all really good on meat, but I think most of them would work equally well on veggies or tofu.

1/3-1/2 Cup.
Prep Time
Total Time

Just a moment please...

Three Homemade Dry Rubs


  • Coffee Spice Rub:
  • Makes a scant 1/2 Cup.
  • 2 Tablespoons whole coffee beans
  • 1 Teaspoon cardamon seeds (or pods would work)
  • 1/2 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 Teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 Teaspoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon pepper
  • 5 C's Rub :
  • Makes about 1/3 Cup of rub.
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cardamon seeds (or pods)
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • All-purpose Rub:
  • Makes 1/3 Cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh black pepper

Helpful Equipment

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1) If the rub you're making has whole spices, it's always a good idea to lightly toast them in a dry skillet for a few minutes to bring out the flavors.  Just toast them until they are fragrant.

2) Add whole spices to a grinder.  Pulse them until roughly ground.  You don't want them like a dust.

3) Mix in other spices.

4) If you're using rubs on meats, coat liberally.  Go lighter on veggies or tofu.

A Salty Mix

If you’ve ever looked at the ingredients on most rubs that you can buy at the store they are mostly salt. This makes sense if you’re trying to make a profit. Salt is cheap. It mixes well. It makes food taste great.

But when you’re making your rubs at home you can cut back on the salt and replace it with real spices that pack a punch. You still want a good amount of salt in the rub, but it doesn’t need to be 50% salt or anything crazy.

Let’s make some rubs!

The Whole Spice

For all of these rubs except the all-purpose one, you’re going to need a spice grinder to really get the full flavor of the rub. Sure, you can find ground versions of all of the ingredients, but it’s so much better to use whole spices. They are more flavorful, the whole spices keep longer, and they are generally cheaper.

The Coffee Rub

For this rub I wanted a dark mix that would hold up well on flavorful meats. You wouldn’t want to use this guy on light stuff like fish or chicken.

Start with whole beans, a small piece of cinnamon and some cardamon seeds. You can use pods also, but I like the seeds.

Coffee stuff

Any coffee will do.

Grind up these spices and then add in all your other spices to the mix. This rub has the most ingredients in it and the resulting flavors are pretty complicated.

It’s a very good rub though.

coffee rub

Lots going on here.

Once I had my rub mixed up, I coated a thick pork chop with it for testing and grilled it up.

The results were amazing:

coffee pork chop

No big deal.

The 5 C’s Rub

For some reason a lot of spices start with the letter C. Or maybe just my favorite spices start with the letter C…

In any event, I thought I’d mix them all up and see what happened.


The Five C’s of delicious.

For this rub, I lightly toasted my cumin, cardamon, and coriander in a dry skillet for a few minutes until they were fragrant.

Then I just blended them up!

5 c mixed

I think this might also be good on popcorn.

The 5 C’s Rub is the lightest of the rubs I made for this post. It has an almost sweet flavor to it that would go well on chicken, tofu, veggies, or maybe even a sturdy fish.

All Purpose Rub

While I was mixing up rubs, I thought I’d give you all the recipe for my favorite all-purpose rub. I use this stuff on everything. It’s great on steaks, chicken wings, asparagus, roasted tofu… you name it.

There’s also no grinding involved. Just take all the spices and stir them up. It takes maybe three minutes to mix up a batch!

All purpose

Good on shoes!

Grilling Some Chicken

To test out the all purpose rub and the 5 C’s rub, I generously coated a few chicken breasts with both and grilled them.

The breasts on the left are the all purpose rub and the right breasts are the 5 C’s version.


Really good chicken.

I loved all of these, but I really liked the 5 C’s rub. It gave the chicken a really bright flavor that was very unique.

These rubs will all keep for a month or two without losing much flavor. I keep mine in plastic bags, but if you had a few airtight containers, they would keep even better.

Not that there’s any chance mine will last that long…

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14 comments on “Three Dry Rubs

    1. Yea… dry it off, then rub it with some oil… either veggie or maybe sesame oil. Then do a light dusting. Don't go to heavy on it. I think the 5 c's or all-purpose would be awesome tofu.

  1. I just got really excited that you're from CO. I live on the Western Slope and the weather's been AWESOME. Definitely gonna try out one or two of these at a BBQ in a couple weeks!

  2. Hi, great site. Question for you. Do i have to add sulfur dioxide to my rubs. I am launching a new line of rubs and wanted to know if i did…

  3. I just finished making the all purpose rub I added 1T of cumin. I’ll let you know how I like it tomorrow once I grill my Spatchcock chicken. #excited

  4. Loved the coffee rub. Looking for a DIY alternative after we ran out of our Weber coffee rub. Doubled the coffee and pepper. The smell was offsetting,but the final result on a nice strip steak was A++! Can’t wait to try the rest (but need to get more cardamom first!) Thanks for sharing!

  5. Just tried the all purpose rub. I’m in a weight loss challenge with some friends, and while the food we can eat is a REALLY narrow list of things, we ARE allowed to season to our heart’s content. I just made my chicken with the AP rub. Now, I’m getting ready to make gifts of it for my friends who are also in the challenge, bc this stuff is DELICIOUS! Thanks for the recipe- MUCH appreciated!

    1. Packaging these for gifts is a great idea Sheryl! I still use this all-purpose rub all the time. One of my favorites. Glad you liked it!

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