BBQ Sauce vs. Rub – What Will You Use This 4th of July?

Are you getting geared up for a 4th of July cookout? Have you decided whether you’re going to use a sauce or a rub for the meats? Are you wondering which one you should use?

Timbertown Austin has the answer! Keep reading to learn what makes a sauce different from a rub and tips on deciding which one to use.

Chicken Thighs Being Grilled

Types of Sauces and Rubs

When you discuss barbecue preferences one of the first debates is going to be wet versus dry. In other words, sauce versus rub. A good way of thinking about the key differences of the two is that sauce soaks into the meat while a rub mostly stays on the surface creating a crust.

There are actually two types of sauces: ones that are more like marinades and are put on before you begin cooking and finishing sauces that aren’t added until the very end of cooking.

There are also two types of rubs: a dry rub, which is only herbs and spices, and a wet rub, which contains a little oil or juice.

What you’re used to seeing and eating mostly comes down to where you live. In different regions of the country traditional BBQ could be wet (Kansas) or dry (Memphis). It also depends on the cooking method being used. Typically rubs are used when smoking meats and sauce is used when you’re cooking over a fire.

Benefits of Sauces and Rubs

There really is no wrong answer when it comes to whether you should use a sauce or a rub. It’s totally up to personal preference. That said, each one does have unique benefits and can be used on a variety of meats.

Sauce BBQ Benefits

  • If you like sweet a finishing sauce will work nicely.
  • Pig shoulder works well with sauce.
  • Sauce can make a cheaper cut of meat more moist and flavorful.
  • When marinated in a sauce the meat is tenderized and flavor is added.
  • Sauce can add intense or subtle flavor.
  • They work fast to flavor meats.

Rub BBQ Benefits

  • It’s easy to make you own or modify a store-bought rub.
  • Sauce can still be used on the side for additional flavor.
  • Rubs are flavorful, but still subtle.
  • If you’re cooking ribs a rub is often the seasoning of choice.
  • Rubs work well with fattier cuts of meat like brisket.
  • Dry barbecue typically takes less time to cook.
  • When a dry rub is working into meat the night before it makes the meat much more tender.
  • The “bark” or crisp crust formed by the rub helps to hold in moisture.

What you have to cook with can also influence whether you use a sauce or a rub. Those that have a Kamado Joe Grill get the added benefit of being able to grill, smoke, sear or bake. If you’re looking for a flavorful seasoning try the new rubs offered at Timbertown Austin.


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