Seasonings can get boring. If you’ve tossed the same combination of thyme or onion powder based seasonings over the top of your meat, then you might be ready for something completely different. Luckily, with a little bit of know-how, you can get a ton of different seasonings into your barbecue rotation. In this post we’ll check out a variety of underrated seasonings and give some advice on how you can work them into your grill game.


Great seasonings need great equipment to really bring the meal together. Shop our entire collection of baskets by simply selecting the grill that you use.


Wildcard Seasonings

If you need a new rub to keep things interesting, check out our collection of rubs. These seasonings are a little bit off the map, and may not be traditionally associated with grilling. The good news for you is that that means you can get some unique flavors out of them that people wouldn’t normally expect. But if you’re going to be a great grill master, you’ve got to be willing to step out of the box.

Saffron

Saffron is one of the most expensive spices that you can get your hands on in the world. The flavor is quite subtle, but it has a bit of a sweet, floral, honey-like flavor. The flavor is a little lighter and inconsistent than honey though, making it a really exciting flavor to work with. You can use saffron frequently in rice and fish based dishes. A great seafood marinade would combine a little bit of saffron and vinegar. 

Sumac

Sumac would remind most people of lemon, but it lacks most of the bitterness that you would associate with lemon. Because it is a bit like lemon without the bitter flavors, sumac pairs really well with chicken dishes. With a little bit of oil or vinegar, you can make a nice rub or marinade with your sumac. 

Juniper Berry

If you’re going to be grilling with game, dried juniper berries can pair wonderfully well. They go with things like duck and venison, although you could also pair them with a steak that doesn’t have too much flavor going on with it. Juniper berries are a traditional thing that is paired with Germanic food, and they taste somewhat like fruity peppers with a touch of pine. 


Most people will be wowed if you can pitch some juniper berries into the mix. The pine and fruit flavor can go really well with gamier kinds of meat, but you could also pair them with some cheese.

Spicy Seasonings

Spicy foods can have a number of surprising health benefits, including boosting metabolism and immune system function.

Chili Powder

Chili powder is really an amazing spice, with a robust red color and a simple yet powerful flavor. Traditionally used when making soups, chilis, and any kind of taco meat, a little bit of chili powder can deliver some heat to your meat without putting it out of reach for guests that are a little faint of heart. Use chili powder in rubs and marinades to maintain the moisture of the meat but bring the heat levels up a little bit.

Jalapeno Powder

Jalapeno powder has the perfect level of heat to make your meat a spicy treat for the summer or a warm treat for the winter. If you’re grilling in the chilly winter months, you’ll want warmer foods. A touch of jalapeno powder in rubs and marinades can really kick up the heat without delivering as much flavor as a chili powder might. One of the best uses of Jalapeno powder is for a rub or marinade for a tri-tip. Because of the thickness and texture of tri-tip, you can marinade in spicier flavors without kicking up the whole heat of the meat as much as you might with a different cut.

Ghost Pepper Salt

Made by turning the terrifying ghost pepper into a salt powder that can be sprinkled onto food, this spice is only for the brave. There’s the other spicy seasonings on this list, and then there is the ghost pepper, which is famously in a league of its own. The ghost pepper got its name from the way that the heat impacts you


Unlike some jalapenos, which normally deliver the heat of the pepper with some immediacy, the ghost pepper delivers its heat slowly over time. The spice sneaks up on you the way that a ghost might. This stuff is the opposite of anything cooling. Distilled into a spice rub, you can get it into the meat in a way different than the traditional ghost pepper sauce.


Most of us aren’t going to want ghost pepper salt rubbed into our dinner. If you really want to work it into the rotation and make your friends feel really cool for eating ghost pepper salt, you might want to work a bit of it into a rub for beef brisket.

Healthy Seasonings

Ginger

In the healthy seasonings section, we’re going into basically the big three of healthy seasonings. Ginger is a great medical substance, which might be able to reduce the pain, soreness, and inflammation in your body. It’s also known for stabilizing the whole body and helping any symptoms that are associated with nausea.


A little bit of fresh ginger can actually work really well in rubs and marinades, depending on the cut of beef that you’re going to be using. 

Turmeric

Just like ginger, turmeric is well known for the way that it can bring anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to your meal. Also turmeric has a somewhat light flavor to it, meaning that it is not going to overpower any of the other foods and meats that you bring to the table. Turmeric can burn and smoke a bit if you toss it on to meat too early, so save some of it for a sprinkle. If you’re making some spicy chicken or beef, sprinkling turmeric on the end of the meat can bring out the smokey, barbecued flavors really nicely.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon carries a distinctly sweet yet savory flavor. While you’ve probably had cinnamon paired with sugar in your life, cinnamon can give a sweet-adjacent kick to a variety of foods. It packs a little bit of that umami feel that you’re chasing in the meats. 


If you’re looking to grill up some sides, throw cinnamon on some watermelon or peaches, then toss them on the grill. They have a strong texture that can hold up under heat and the peach flavor is brought out by the smoky flavors of the grill. For peaches, you’ll want to halve them and remove the pit. Don’t dust them with any salt! Dust them with a little bit of cinnamon or brown sugar if you need an extra kick. Then grill face down for about 5 minutes, removing them just before they fall apart.


Cinnamon is also a really healthy seasoning, and a little bit of it with meals can be really good for you.

Grill On

As you spice up your grilling game — literally — don’t be afraid to experiment! Adding flavor to your meat is an essential part of the experience; and if you find something really delicious and out of the ordinary, let us know so we can try it too.