Rubs and spice blends—what’s the difference? In simplest terms, every rub is a spice blend, but not every spice blend is a rub.
Rubs are an intensely flavored blend of spices and herbs, often mixed with some salt and sugar, that are created to season meat. They can be used for things other than meat or barbecue, but that’s not their common use. Spice, or seasoning, blends are just that—blends, of all kinds. It’s the umbrella category that “dry rubs” lives under, and many blends that aren’t designated as rubs work equally well on either meat or vegetables. They can be peppery and bold or herbaceous and delicate, and are not necessarily enhanced with sugar or salt. There are numerous established spice blends, but they are wildly versatile and can be adapted to specific tastes. You can also dive into your cabinet and mix your favorite herbs and spices for a blend that embodies your favorite flavors.