Best Spices For Grilling

Spices have been an integral part of cooking since the earliest days, but what are some new and exciting ways to use them? We’ve compiled a list of innovative spices that you might want to consider using next time you’re in the kitchen.

Grilling spices and rubs are a must for the summer season. They add flavor to meats, seafood, vegetables, and more. Read more in detail here: grilling spices and rubs.

Spices Marketplace.

Tim Ziegler contributed this guest article as an editor’s note.

Since the dawn of time, man has been cooking outside. It was just one of the basics of existence in order to live in ancient times. Cooking outdoors is now considered one of the macho talents that distinguishes humans from the animals. Cooking indoors is more complex, time-consuming, and hot (particularly in the summer!). It also makes one’s whole home uncomfortably hot. AoM has already addressed this subject in depth, including everything from stick-cooking foods to outdoor cooking and grilling.

But what we’re talking about today is how to improve your outdoor cooking experience by creating your own spice mixes that will become trademark taste profiles in your house, on your backyard grill, and even over a campfire.

Cooking has always made use of several single-ingredient spices. Spice pre-blending, on the other hand, did not become a popular commercial endeavour until the East India Company and the British Raj, which lasted from 1757 to 1947. When British military personnel and their families returned to England, they were unable to replicate the delectable curries and masalas they had enjoyed in India. Sun Brand Curry was initially introduced in 1876 and is still one of the most popular spice combinations today. Many people in Europe and America are still unaware that “curry” is not a single spice, but rather a spice combination that varies from village to village, clan to clan, and family to family throughout India and Asia.

Let’s take a look at what spices are and then look at some particular categories before we get into mixing.

What exactly is a spice?

Spices poster.

I created the SPICES poster.

From the Food and Drug Administration Compliance Policy Manual, below is the official definition of spices:

Aromatic vegetable compounds, whole, broken, or pulverized, that serve mostly as flavoring rather than nutrients in meals. They are loyal to their name, and no volatile oil or other flavoring component has been removed from them.

As you can see, the word “spice” is rather wide. They are made up of various plant parts, such as bark (cinnamon), root (ginger), leaf (basil), bulb (garlic), stem (lemon grass), flower (lavender), flower bud (cloves), berry (pepper), aril (mace), seed (coriander), pod (vanilla), stigma (saffron), and so on. Spices also come in practically every form, color, and texture imaginable in a plant. Spices are sold in a variety of forms, including minced, diced, crushed, sliced and sifted, ground, granulated, and whole. A spice or seasoning blend’s flavor, fragrance, and visual attractiveness are determined by different mixes of each of these properties.

I’ve broken down these essential components into a list that’s easier to understand:


Coriander seed.

Seeds of coriander.

Herb seeds make up the majority of the seeds used in spices. They’re small taste bombs that provide massive, strong flavor at a low price. They are often employed in the preparation of sausages and brines, but they also play an important role in practically every ethnic cuisine. Consider an Italian sausage devoid of fennel seed, a chili con carne devoid of cumin seed, French cuisine devoid of mustard seed, or a Belgian White Ale devoid of coriander seed. Determine what seeds you’ll need to complement the dish if you’re aiming for an ethnic cuisine profile. In your spice mix, seeds may be utilized whole, crushed, or broken. Toasted seeds in a non-oiled sauté pan until the flavor bursts from the heat — be cautious not to burn them — is one of the easiest approaches.



Oregano Herbs.


With the exception of juniper and lavender blossoms, herbs are nearly invariably leafy and green. Herbs have a bright, strong, and bitter taste that makes them tough to employ in grilling, but if you find out their subtleties, they’re really tasty. I utilize herbs in grilling by suspending a spice/herb combination in olive oil, rubbing it generously over a roast, fowl, or rib, and cooking it low and slow (225 degrees or lower) using indirect fire to bring the flavors of the protein and herbs together.


Lemon peel.

Peel of a lemon

Citrus, which is popular in the Americas, is a recent addition to grilling spice combinations. Lemon pepper is a popular steak seasoning, although it’s a little out of date in the professional cooking world. Lime peel and juice have a natural affinity for fish, but they’re also necessary for carne asada and many other Mexican/Caribbean coastal recipes. Orange pairs nicely with chicken and may be made into an orange pepper by combining lemon peel and black pepper in identical proportions. The sweet, tangy, and biting fowl is finished with a barbecue sauce.

Garlic & Onion

Garlic Powder.


Onion and garlic are important taste qualities in spice blends because they offer nuttiness, acridity, and sweetness. Both are easy to overdo, so start with a little amount and work your way up until you have the taste and zip you want.


Whole cloves.

Cloves that are whole.

Spices come from the tropics, are necessary in most ethnic cuisines, have a strong taste, and are typically rather costly. Spices are often employed in complicated formulations such as curries and masalas, however they are frequently utilized as accents rather than as main tastes. A trace of cinnamon or cassia might be the ideal addition to a meal, but if used too much, it can overpower your guests’ taste and spoil the subtlety.


Peppercorns Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold.

Extra Bold Tellicherry Garble.

Peppercorns are usually made from the black pepper plant Piper nigrum. TGEB – Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold — is one of the best black peppers available. It is cultivated in the Tellicherry area of Southwest India. Garbled peppercorns are those that haven’t been sized. The term “extra bold” alludes to the potency of piperine, a volatile oil found in black pepper. The flavor of Tellicherry pepper is powerful, bright, and robust, and it will cleanse your sinuses and excite your tongue like nothing else. Citrus, garlic, spices, and even seeds, particularly coriander, go nicely with pepper.


Aleppo pepper.

Aleppo pepper is a spicy pepper from Aleppo, Syria.

Capsicum is derived from the term capsaicin, which refers to the active volatile oil found in chili peppers. Many of the most renowned barbecue rubs developed and marketed in America today use this sort of spice, particularly paprika. The bittersweet taste of paprika gives barbecue rubs depth, intensity, and a rich red colour. Without this color and taste, American-style ribs would be unrecognizable. Chili peppers, which are capsicums, give a wide range of heat and spice to mixes. Use them sparingly since a little may go a long way. Chili peppers come in an unlimited range of flavors and ethnic characterizations. Capsicums are fundamental to most barbeque and grilling rubs, from the smoky heat of chipotle (mesquite smoked jalapeno) to the brightness of a Santaka (Indian) chili to the raisin-like tobacco overtones in ancho chili.


Salt from the sea and salt from the ground

Various sea salts.

a variety of sea salts

Salt was perhaps the first outdoor food flavoring, and it is currently available in hundreds of forms and tastes from sea, mine, and quarry sites all over the world. When you start looking for and discovering luxury types like Maldon Sea Salt, Iles de Reyes, and, of course, Fleur de Sel — Flower of the Sea — the formerly lowly mineral might leave a major hole in your budget. The freshly produced smoked sea salts are much more powerful. Smoked sea salt tastes include alder wood, apple, mesquite, and hickory, which give salt a deep and earthy smokiness. Some restaurant cooks use these salts to disguise the fact that they don’t have a grill at their establishment by imparting a smoke-like scent and taste to their dishes.

Blending Spices

Curry powder.

Curry powder from Madras.

Spice blends are often popular, established mixtures of spices, herbs, citrus, seeds, onion and garlic, peppercorns, salt, sweeteners, and capsicums if these varied parts make up the core essence of spices.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of commercial spice mixes that you may use to improve the taste of your dinner, whether it’s cooked inside or grilled outdoors, much like the Sun Brand Curry. What we’re aiming for is the ability to make four distinct spice mixes that are both economical and consistent, as well as original, creative, and unique to your kitchen. Your steak, salmon, chicken, or kebab will be remembered and enjoyed by your friends and family thanks to a special spice combination.

Spices may be combined in a number of ways. Here are two examples: You may use a Cuisinart-style processor or a spice grinder for big batches. Waring has released a fantastic new spice grinder, which I use at home as well as in my R&D kitchen. You may alternatively pound the spices separately in a mortar and pestle before combining them in a plastic bag that you twist and shake. (Be careful not to damage the bag by twisting it entirely!)

Provence Herbs are a blend of herbs from the south of France.

Herbs de Provence.

Auguste Escoffier, the legendary chef, created Herbs de Provence, and his recipe would look like this:

  • 1 Tablespoon Rosemary (T)
  • 1 tablespoon basil leaves
  • 1 teaspoon oregano (mediterranean)
  • 1 tablespoon marjoram leaves
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon (t) Ultra-Super-Blue Lavender

Gently combine the herbs until they are completely combined. This dish may be spiced up with parsley, tarragon, sage, and/or other herbs. You may massage the herbs straight into fish, poultry, or lamb, but I like to add 1 teaspoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon of Maldon Sea Salt, and 1 teaspoon of capers to the above mixture and sprinkle equally over a salmon fillet. To make a deliciously interesting outdoor supper, I put 1/4 of a thinly sliced red onion, 1 cup of white wine, and 4 T of butter on a 1/4 sheet pan and cook on a medium high grill. Cook until the chicken is done, which takes around 20 minutes. (This recipe works wonderfully in the oven as well.)

Rub for Barbecue Ribs

Barbeque Rib Rub.

  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika (smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt (Kosher salt is optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seed (toasting is optional)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed (toasting is optional)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper (optional)

I like to cook my ribs in a smoker rather than on a grill, but if you use indirect heat and cook low and slow, you can do it on a grill as well (225 degrees or lower). I also used an elevated rack pan to protect the ribs from coming into close contact with the metal. My ribs are cooked for 4-6 hours. Apply the rub liberally. To make a paste, combine the whole rub with 1/2 cup olive oil and apply generously to both sides of the ribs. This dish may be made with either beef or pork ribs, but pork is my favorite.


Seasoning for Steak

Steak seasoning.

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground four pepper blend (black, white, green, and pink)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (I use Alder Wood Smoked Sea Salt)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, dried
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion, dried
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed (Toasted)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin seed (Toasted)
  • 1 tbsp. orange peel (freshly squeezed)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dill

Toss the spices together completely. Season steaks, burgers, and chops with a generous amount of the spice. To make the ideal steak, use the grilling method specified on AoM.

Burger Seasoning

Burger spice.

  • 1 teaspoon garlic granules
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of Maldon salt
  • 1 tsp. paprika (smoked)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne


Finally, spice mixing and its application in cooking — whether inside or outdoors — is a means to identify various cuisines throughout the globe and is based on family background or ethnic cuisine. The homogenized tastes and commonalities of fast-food and fast-casual eateries have altered much of American cuisine. Make and serve more dramatic and savory meals with less ingredients by setting a challenge for yourself. Great cuisine and memorable dinners are distinguished by the use of herbs and spices outside of our own cultural conventions. As you acquire expertise blending and utilizing spices, challenge yourself to attempt new mixes, ingredients, and methods that will make your family and friends envious of your improved abilities.

Use these basic criteria to set yourself apart in the world of outdoor cooking. Remember, these are only suggestions; you can make them as unique as you want by swapping out a crucial element or adding another. Hopefully, this information will be useful throughout the forthcoming Fourth of July and summer events!

What are some of your favorite grilling spices and blends?

What are some of your favorite grilling spices and blends?’s Tim Ziegler is a former Marine Captain, Chef, Entrepreneur, Father, Husband, and Spice Master. He and his wife Margaret reside in Broomfield, Colorado, with their two younger children, whom he coaches in softball and baseball. For his formulas that are employed countrywide by cooks of higher repute, he is dubbed “The Chef Behind the Chefs.”

Tim Ziegler and Italco Food Products provided all of the images.



The “top 100 bbq rubs” is a list of the best spices for grilling. There are many different types of rubs that can be used, but there are some that stand out more than others.

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