Smokey Sweet Dry Rub for Grilling (Plus Bonus Directions for Cooking a Tri-Tip Roast)

image We LOVE grilling!  I got this idea because I picked up something called Magic Unicorn Salt not long ago.  While it’s as amazing as it sounds, you KNOW we love pretty much anything DIY.

Sooo, here’s a quick and easy idea for you all today–a smokey brown sugar dry rub you can make yourself!  It’s really easy to put together (not to mention INEXPENSIVE), and you just sprinkle it on the protein of your choice about an hour before you grill it.  It would be awesome on salmon, chicken, or tofu, but it would even work with vegetables!

Read on to get the simple recipe (if you can call something this easy a “recipe”).  Plus, as an added bonus, I’m including cooking directions for grilling up the perfect, medium rare tri-tip roast with it.


Here’s the scoop:  All you need are equal parts of brown sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika.  Seriously, that’s it!  I mixed it all up in a feta cheese container that I washed, dried, and saved just for storing stuff like this.  You can adjust the amounts to your preference, and you can really add or omit any ingredients to your taste (or to use up something that’s been sitting in your pantry, which is 90% of my motivation for coming up with ideas like this. #truth)

When you’re at least an hour away from grilling, pat your meat, fish, veggies, or tofu dry with a paper towel.  Then sprinkle on some dry rub and pat it in gently.  An hour later, you’re ready to go!  The smoked paprika gives it extra depth, and the sugar and salt work like a pseudo-brine to make the meat juicy while helping to create that caramelized crust that’s so yummy on the edges of your grilled food!

Now, here are the directions for grilling up a tri-tip roast perfectly every time:

  1. Prep your roast as directed above.  I usually get a tri-tip that’s around 2 lbs.
  2. Pre-heat your grill.
  3. Sear the roast on medium-high* for five minutes on one side.  Flip.  Repeat.
  4. Flip again, turn the heat down to medium-low, and close the grill.  For the perfect medium rare, cook 5 more minutes, for a total cooking time of 15 minutes.  Go longer or shorter on this step if you prefer your roast more well done, or more rare, respectively.  (20 minutes total cooking time gets you to a perfect medium doneness.)
  5. Let the roast rest on the counter, loosely covered in foil, for 15 minutes or so before carving.

*Every grill is different, so you might need to adjust these temperatures.  Basically, for the searing step (#3), you want the grill hot enough to brown the meat, but not burn it.  For the cooking step (#4), you don’t want it so low that it won’t heat the meat through, but also not so high that the outside continues to brown.

Let us know how you use this dry rub and/or these grilling directions, especially if you get creative.  We can’t wait for you to try this, because obviously WE LOVE THIS STUFF!


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