What Does Dry Rub Mean for Wings? (Applying Dry Rubs for Flavor)

Once the BBQ bug bites, we will continuously look for ways to improve our grilling skills. But, more importantly, the taste of our dishes. This might bring us to the terminology of cooking we might not be entirely familiar with, such as “dry rubbing.” So, what does dry rubbing mean for chicken wings, and are there different ways of doing it?

What Does Dry Rub Mean for Wings?

Dry rubbing refers to creating a mixture of species and applying it directly to the meat of your choice. This mixture usually includes sea salt and sugar but excludes using any kinds of liquids. Due to the various combinations made with different spices, it’s also commonly referred to as “spice rub.”

what does dry rub mean for wings

Dry rubbing might seem more convenient and quicker than creating sauces or marinades. But questions may arise like “which combination of spices tastes better?” and “Do certain dry rub recipes work better with specific meats?” 

Let’s look at what different types of dry rubs we can concoct. As well as the best time is to make them. 

Different Ingredients In Dry Rubs We Can Use For Chicken

To know what kind of different dry spices we can make specifically for chicken wings, we first have to be aware of what they generally consist of.

Spices refer to the plant parts that are dried and added to meats to provide flavor but are hardly ever used as the main ingredient. 

It’s vital to remember that spices include parts of the plant such as; twigs, berries, seeds, roots, and dried bark but do not consist of the leaves as this is commonly referred to as herbs. 

Therefore, the following are some common spices found in dry rub combinations:

  • Chili powder consists of finely crushed peppers known for adding a piquant flavor to any dish.
  • Cumin is a flowering plant from the family of Apiaceae and adds a rich, earthy taste to a plate.
  • Not only are onions a common ingredient in many dishes. But onion powder is also used to add sweetness to numerous seasoning blends. 
  • Black pepper is as popular as the mineral salt in seasoning blends to enhance the flavors of different spices and the meat itself. 
  • Turmeric is a native Indian flowering plant from the ginger family, commonly used to add flavor to chicken dishes.
  • Garlic is a vegetable that adds intense flavor and aroma to any dish.

The above are just a few of the most common spices used in rubs. That said, you can use literally any type of spice, especially, in homemade rubs.

Since dry rubs are used to enhance the flavor of a dish and create a unique and iconic taste. Grillers have gone to great lengths to keep their recipes and ingredients secret.

Common Ingredients for Chicken Wing Rubs

However, there are a few known combinations that are ideal to use for chicken wings. 

Besides the spices mentioned earlier, parsley, oregano, and ground mustard are ideal species to include in the blend when preparing grilled chicken. 

For BBQ chicken, paprika and brown sugar create a welcoming taste that many grillers prefer. What’s as vital as the combinations of spices is the amount of each spice we add, so remember to read the instructions carefully.  

Now that we are aware that dry rubs, or spice rubs, consist of all the parts of a plant, besides the leaves, that we can directly apply to meat, the question now is how it differs from marinades? 

Marinades can consist of the same dry spices as the dry rub, but it will include an acidic liquid to tenderize the meat. Liquids such as vinegar, wine, or even citrus pair well with some dry spices to create a type of liquid sauce that can be applied to the meat before cooking. 

The goal of using marinades is to make the meat tenderer. Therefore, it’s ideal for letting tougher meats marinate for more than 12 hours. 

Dry rubs and marinades are suitable for creating textures and unique flavors, although the former might be slightly more straightforward and quicker to prepare. 

Due to similar ingredients being used in both marinades and dry rubs, many taste enthusiasts have become experimental with what type of liquids they add to the spices. As a result, hundreds, if not thousands, of combinations exist to create memorable and tasteful dishes.

For an acidic taste, the use of lemon juice and wine might be ideal. However, if adding enzymes to your dish is what you’re looking for, pure fruit juices like mango and kiwi will be great solutions. 

Whether we are leaning towards a solid neutral taste or something more exotic will depend on what spices we use and if we want to add liquids to them.

Some companies have even created combinations of spices that can be used as a dry rub or even mixed with beer if you’re feeling adventurous. 

Experimenting with different combinations will later yield which flavors are most enjoyable to you, but always make sure that there is enough time when wanting to use marinades. 

How Do You Apply Dry Rub?

Before applying the dry rub to any meat, clean the meat by quickly rinsing it. After all, impurities have been removed, the meat can be dried with a towel, and spices can be applied. 

The dry rub is usually applied by rubbing the spices onto the meat by hand and pressing it firmly into the meat’s flesh by palms or knuckles. If the meat has skin, try getting some of the marinade under the skin to get a more flavorful piece of meat.

The skin is separated from the meat for chicken wings to place the rub between the skin and meat for maximum flavor exposure. Some grillers also prefer to put a little oil on the meat itself for the rub to stick to it successfully. 

Ideally, spices should be kept on the meat to allow enough time for the flavor to set. However, depending on the strength of the flavor you prefer, you can leave the rub on the meat for longer. Therefore it can range anything from 24 hours before cooking to only 15 min. 

However, with white meats like chicken, it’s important not to let the spices pull all the moisture from the meat. 

Keep the chicken refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes and no more than 24 hours after applying the rub. This will allow the spices to set in without draining too much moisture. 

Final Word

Using a variety of dry rubs on chicken wings is a widespread practice. With standard combinations and even some unique recipes. It’s a simple way to enhance the taste of any dish. While adding some flavor to make a backyard BBQ truly memorable. 

Next time you get ready to throw some wings on the grill. Mix up or buy some store-bought dry rub to see what a difference it makes!

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