Marinade or Dry Rub?

Wondering what everyone’s preference is to this, or do you even have one? And what sort of recipes benefit with a marinade versus a dry rub (and vice-versa).

I mostly use a basic dry rub for meats that I cook. I’ve used marinades for vegetarian proteins, like in my most recent tofu experiment. Thoughts, opinions, expertise on the subject matter?


I’ve never really been inclined to use marinades because no matter how much I try to dry the surface of the meat afterwards it still makes meat difficult to sear for a good Maillard reaction. Besides they never seemed to do much on the flavour side of things. Of course, I have now been happy to discover my suspicions confirmed by tests that prove marinades don’t penetrate very far into meat. I do still soak chicken parts in red wine for a day or two before making coq au vin, but that’s about it.

Dry rubs are another that I don’t use often. The few times I have tried smoking ribs is about it. I don’t use them when I use direct heat cooking methods because burnt spices can be very bitter.

I tend to leave my proteins plain and add flavours in a sauce or a post cook ‘marinade’ in a flavoured oil or butter or even a mild vinegrette.

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To keep my response short I agree with Ember. I only use rubs when I am smoking something. I will also use a baste during smoking.

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I would think that chicken (especially the white meat) would benefit from a marinade. Have you ever tried patting the marinated meat dry before the sear? Does this help? @Ember

Yes, I always dry it before frying. It just never becomes really dry.

Marinades really don’t penetrate much below the surface of the meat. Of course it depends on the time given to soaking, however, even 24 hours seems to have little effect.

Here’s an article from Norm King’s on the uptake of flavours in meat.

And here’s the article on marinades.

I’m sure I recently read another article on marinade penetration (or lack of) but I can’t find it.

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