spice mixology

Spice Mixology: blends, rubs, pastes and marinades

I have recently discovered that one of my greatest strengths can gradually morph into one of my greatest weaknesses. I am referring to my insane ability to think…and Think…and THINK…until it turns into overthinking and minimal action. From time to time, all my brilliant ideas keep me from progress.

This vicious cycle has been known to find it’s way into my weeknight cooking escapades.  I’ll ponder a recipe. Next, I’ll thumb through cookbooks to determine my best options. Then, search my favorite cooking websites for even more alternatives. By the time dinner rolls around, I still have no definitive plan on what to do with the boneless skinless chicken breasts waiting in my refrigerator {whoopsie daisy}.

There is hope. A solution to all this indecision is spice mixology. Honorable dining with minimal preparation time is quickly on the horizon when we can pair spices to make blends, rubs, pastes and marinades.

Terms and use


a combination of dried spices used in cooking and baking. Make a blend by measuring a variety of ground spices and stir together to combine.


a dry spice blend that is rubbed on meat, poultry or fish before cooking. Apply rub onto surface of meat to yield an even coating. For additional flavor, brush meat with oil or lemon juice prior to applying rub.


a blend that incorporates both wet spices (e.g., fresh garlic, ginger, chiles, lemongrass) and dry spices. Pastes are fairly thick and not too runny. Rubs can easily transform into pastes by adding a little olive oil to the spice mixture as well as some fresh ingredients. Evenly apply pastes onto surface of meat before cooking.


a seasoned liquid to boost the flavor of poultry, meat and seafood. Marinades are a combination of acidic components (e.g., lemon juice, buttermilk, vinegar, wine), dry spices, wet spices and oils. Immerse meat in marinade liquid for an appropriate length of time prior to cooking. Thinner and lighter protein options, such as seafood, boneless poultry or tofu, only require 30 minutes to an hour of marinade time. Beef, pork and poultry with skin require longer marination: one to two hours up to 24 hours.

spice mixology 101

Practice spice mixology using the following five steps.

  1. Select which spice mix to assemble: blend, rub, paste or marinade.
  2. Choose a flavor profile to follow. Use the flavor profile table to determine which spices to pair.
  3. Combine and stir dry and wet spices in a bowl.
  4. Apply mixture to protein and if necessary, marinate.
  5. Cook seasoned meat using desired method: grill, bake, pan fry, sear, etcetera.

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