Rubs vs. Marinades–is one a healthier choice?

August 11, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

There are definite sides when it comes to the use of rubs versus marinades. I have found that it can be an emotional issue for those who have developed and are known for their own recipes. Besides preference, what are the real differences between rubs and marinades? Is one type of seasoning healthier than the other? Easier? Less time consuming? What are the differences?

First we need to understand the difference between a rub and a marinade. I always thought it was the difference between a “dry” concoction of herbs and spices, which I called a rub, compared to a “wet” mixture of herbs, spices, oils– you name it, which I called a marinade. Turns out it is not so easy as that. There are “wet” rubs too. The main difference is that the marinades tend to tenderize the meat as the protein marinates. A rub is more of a flavorful coating that adds texture and taste to the protein.

Some people think one method makes the meat more moist or juicy. This isn’t really true either. Since both coat your meat, the degree of moisture is more about how long you cook your protein. How long you cook it is all about the method of cooking and the thickness of the meat. We can talk about this in another blog. For now, check out this helpful YouTube video: Dry Rub vs. Marinade.

So is there a healthier choice? Of course, the answer to that question isn’t so simple. It all depends on the ingredients. A rub, if it is just made of herbs and spices, can be low calorie and very flavorful. However, there are many recipes out there and store bought rubs that add sugar, salt and other ingredients like bread crumbs which can add a significant amount of calories and may not be so healthy for you. Marinades can also be healthy and effective with ingredients like fresh lemon juice, broth and herbs from your garden or local Farmer’s Market. You have to pay attention to the ingredients in the recipes you use. I would avoid store bought to avoid added calories and unwanted ingredients.

My favorite summertime marinade for chicken: http://livligahome.blogspot.com/2012/06/great-marinade-for-chicken.html

For rub recipes that are all about herbs and spices try these out: http://livligahome.blogspot.com/2011/07/dry-rubs-for-meats.html

For other ideas: http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/holiday_entertaining/healthy_rubs_and_marinades

Ultimately the Rubs versus Marinades debate comes down to your preference and the amount of time you have and your willingness to plan ahead. Marinades need time and preparation. Rubs can be pre-made and ready to go when you need them. It is fun to experiment with them both and find the mixtures and concoctions you prefer as you look for favorite flavors and healthier choices. 

 

 

 

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