Summer is a great time to clean out your spice pantry and create mouthwatering spices, rubs, and sauces for the grill. Is your pantry full of spices you haven’t pulled out in years? Spices last for several years but over time they lose some of their flavor. Whole spices will last up to 4 years but ground spices have a lifespan of about 2-3 years. Some experts recommend replacing spices on a yearly basis.
Homemade spice rubs can elevate your grilling from good to delicious. You can use up those partially filled bottles that have been hiding in the back row of your spice cabinet. Spice rubs enhance the flavor of meats, veggies, and fruit. From sweet to smoky you can create a wide variety of mixes and clean out your pantry at the same time.
DIY Rubs and Sauces
Mason jars make for cute spice mix jars. Be sure to label and date them as seasoning mixes have a shorter shelf life than individual spices. Hosting a summer party? Make extra and give them as hostess gifts.
Benefits of Making Your Own Spices
Creating your own spice mixes has numerous benefits:
- No preservatives
- Saves money
- Make salt-free or low sodium mixes
- Customize the blend by making it milder or using more of a spice you love
- Introduce spices like turmeric that have positive health benefits
Easy Ways to Use Your Spice Mixes
- Mix your spice mix with a little brown sugar or honey and oil to create a rub for your meat.
- Stir your spice mix into chopped veggies prior to grilling.
- Mix with oil, then brush your sauce on top of stone fruit like peaches or nectarines. Grill, then drizzle with honey and serve with yogurt or ice cream.
1. Cajun Spice Mix
1/2 cup paprika
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup garlic powder
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Whisk ingredients together and store in a container.
Sprinkle over fish, chicken, or steak for a spicy dinner ¬— or mix with olive or canola oil to create a rub. Let your meat or fish sit for a few minutes after covering with your rub before placing it on the grill. If you like a sweet and spicy rub, stir in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Cajun Spice Mix
These make a great side for your grilled meal. Start by cutting your potatoes into strips, then toss with olive oil and Cajun spice mix. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until crispy on the outside.
2. Baking Spice Mix
1/2 cup cinnamon
2 tablespoons ginger powder
2 tablespoons nutmeg
1 tablespoon ground clove
1 tablespoons ground cardamom
Whisk ingredients together and store in a container. Sprinkle our baking spice mix on stone fruits mixed with a bit of honey or sugar. It’s also great on summer crisps, cobblers, and crumbles. Top with yogurt or ice cream and drizzle with honey for a light ending to your barbecue.
3. Homemade Barbecue Sauce
Nothing is better than homemade barbecue sauce. Fresh, made to your liking, and without any preservatives. The flavor is tangy and you can adjust the heat. You’ll be eating it by the spoonful, it’s that good! Plus, homemade barbecue sauce is the perfect way to use up some of those pantry items that have been sitting around for a little too long.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ketchup
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Cajun Spice Mix
A few dashes of hot sauce (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
Make a batch and refrigerate in containers for up to a couple of weeks. This barbecue sauce makes a base for your imagination. Try stirring in a tablespoon of Thai chili sauce to change the flavor slightly. Barbecue sauce also makes a great dipping sauce for your Cajun Fries.
4. North African Rub
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
Whisk your ingredients together and store in a container. This rub is spicy without the heat. Mix with a little canola oil or olive oil to create a rub for your favorite cut of meat, pork, or chicken.
5. Homemade Taco Seasoning
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
Whisk ingredients together and store in a container. Use your taco seasoning to make grilled chicken or substitute wherever taco seasoning is called for in your favorite recipes.