Whether you’re grilling up homemade burgers for a quick lunch, a perfect sirloin steak for date night, or even just some eggplant slices for a dip, flavour is the most important part of a dish. While the overall presentation is part of a delicious meal, you can easily be disappointed if your food doesn’t taste as good as it looks. The light grill lines that grilling gives your food is often a great part of what makes your food delicious, but it isn’t all of it.
Often, a little bit of seasoning and spice can take a dish to a whole new level. Something as simple as tomato paste can easily become a great spaghetti sauce with just dried oregano and some garlic powder. And you aren’t stuck there with what you can do. While some meat tastes the best when certain herbs and spices are used for grilling, any combination can be used, too. The only question is what pairs well together for barbecuing.
We’ve researched many must-try BBQ seasonings you need to add to your list and put them all into a quick guide for you. So, grab a new Napoleon grill or a few accessories from our catalogue if you need them, and fire it up to try these seasonings.
Fresh or powdered, onions are perfect for all sorts of seasoning mixes and even as part of the dish itself. Many cultures’ cuisines already make use of onions in their day-to-day dishes, many of which the world loves. Just like with these cultural dishes, the light sweetness of onions only deepens and caramelises in the heat of a barbecue grill, adding that same flavour to whatever meat or veggies you add them to.
Many store-bought rubs already make use of onion powder, so add some blended or minced onions to your homemade marinade or rub. There’s a reason it’s used so widely, and the flavour you get really drives the point home.
When compared to the other ways you can add heat to your meat and vegetables, these kinds of seasonings are often skimmed over in favour of cayenne and paprika. In some cases, a recipe might even call for fresh habanero or cayenne peppers instead of crushed red chilis. However, don’t toss them out just yet. While they might not be as spicy as other kinds of chili peppers, chilli flakes like these still pack heat if you know how to use them right.
Crushed red chilli peppers specifically add a fruitier heat to the dishes they’re in. Since they’re flakes instead of a paste or pieces, these chilis are also perfect for mixing into finishing sauces, brines, and marinades. And to make it an even sweeter deal, chilli flakes can even add a unique texture to your meat and veggies, making them that much more appealing when served!
More often than not, oregano is a highly used seasoning used in all sorts of dishes, though most often with meat. However, oregano is also frequently dried for much more convenient use, allowing it to easily be added to all kinds of rubs without the need to dry the herb out first. When it comes to vegetable options though, oregano isn’t as frequently used.
Adding oregano to all sorts of dishes, meat or vegetables, can be mixed with sorts of different flavour profiles too. The herb is most often said to have an earthy and slightly bitter taste that can vary depending on its freshness and the plant itself. In other cases, though, oregano has also been said to have “peppery volatile oils”. Altogether, the herb is great for seasoning grilled tomatoes, eggplants, and bell peppers, in addition to beef and lamb.
Another more widely used part of many cultures’ cuisine, turmeric is known among chefs for its earthy and bitter taste. Some chefs and even pitmasters may even say that turmeric has a hint of a peppery taste that makes it great for many dishes. However, the bitter taste of the spice is also known to be incredibly strong and can be unpalatable to many people if too much is used or if it isn’t diluted.
Primarily used in many South Asian recipes – Indian cuisine, for example – only a quarter teaspoon of turmeric is added to curries and drier foods for flavouring. But, despite the small amount used, the spice is more widely known for the bright yellow colour it gives food. Many popular barbecued Indian dishes like Kerala-style fish fry and tandoori chicken often have turmeric as a key ingredient.
Mixing roughly a quarter teaspoon of powdered turmeric into a chicken or fish marinade with two teaspoons of paprika and pepper can add its unique flavour in an easily balanced amount. But, in addition to that, it adds a highly appealing colour to the food when barbecued. And that’s not mentioning turmeric’s health benefits!
Like turmeric, you’re far more likely going to find ground – or occasionally even whole – cumin in Indian and South Asian grilled foods. However, some people might not know that cumin is also one of the key ingredients in Mexican dishes, often used for its mildly spicy flavour and is said to also be warm with a slight citrus taste. That warmth and spice are often used to emphasise the sweetness of some vegetables and add complexity to vegetarian dishes.
When the seeds are roasted and then ground up, the added smokiness can further emphasise cumin’s natural warmth, making it perfect for barbecuing meat and some vegetables. Mexican cuisine often does just that, adding cumin to fajitas and other meat dishes. When combined with the heat from chilis, the resulting spiciness is both deliciously warm and spicy. And if cumin is used roughly ground, it can also add a great texture for rubs and marinades.
Often, some of the best BBQ seasonings are already being used in another culture. If you want to impress your guests at your next barbecue, take and use some of these herbs and spices in a similar but unique way, adding a delicious cultural twist to your barbeque.