Best Grilling Spice Sets

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best grilling spice sets

Last Updated September 2020

For a health-conscious individual, the right spices can enhance the flavor of a meal without adding salt, sugar, fat, or calories. Spices also have similar antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to fruits and vegetables, so they are good for you. However, if we're being honest, people usually add spices to food to make it taste better, not because it's a healthy choice.

Purchasing the right grilling spice set is vital to your neighborhood ranking. It can transform your status from weekend barbecuer to grill master in a single meal. That’s why it’s important to find a robust grilling spice set with quality ingredients that has been packaged for long-lasting freshness.

If you'd like to learn about the difference between herbs and spices, which spices are best with which meats, and how to store your grilling spice set, keep reading. If you are only interested in quickly grabbing a top-rated set for an upcoming cookout, consider one of the grilling spice sets we spotlight on this page.

Ground spices tend to have a shelf life of one to two years. Whole spices can last up to three years.

Key considerations

Single spices or seasonings

If you want to create your own unique spice blend from scratch, you will need an assortment of single spices, such as turmeric, black pepper, cumin, and mustard seed. However, when most people are shopping for a set of grilling spices, they actually want pre-mixed seasonings. These have a variety of ingredients that include spices as well as herbs, sugars, and salt. It is easy to tell seasonings from spices because seasoning jars tend to have more descriptive names, such as “Smokey Campfire” or “Southwest Lime.”

Variety

If you’re buying a set of grilling spices, chances are you want variety. Only you know how wide that variety should be. Do you want Cajun, Mexican, and Jamaican blends, or do you just want three different styles of barbecue? Look for a grilling spice set that reflects your preferences.

Number of jars

Many grilling spice sets come with a selection of three seasonings. If you prefer, you can purchase a set with as many as 50 different jars. While volume is nice, most spices only have a shelf life of up to two years. If you use grilling spices just a few months out of the year, you might not need the largest collection.

Organic

Non-organic spices may have been sterilized in a way that reduces the potency of the flavor. Additionally, non-organic spices might have fillers such as flour or rice that do not contribute to the flavor. If you want the freshest, richest flavor, lean toward a grilling spice set that has been certified organic.

Extras

While not typical, some grilling spice sets come with extras, such as reusable tins and wooden serving spoons. If this is desirable, look for a set that includes these items.

EXPERT TIP

It is important to be gentle when applying spices and rubs because vigorous activity can damage meat fibers. Also, it is easier to accidentally over-season meat when you are aggressively applying spices.


Staff  | BestReviews

Top grilling spices

Different spices have different qualities that make them more or less desirable on certain foods. Following are a few of the top spices used in grilling.

Black pepper: When you sprinkle black pepper on food, it adds a bit of heat while accentuating the flavors that are already present. It comes in a variety of textures and can be used to create a thick, crunchy coating, if desired. Black pepper is best for beef and veal.

Chili powder: Chili powders are made from dried peppers. Since there is an incredibly wide range of peppers, chili powder can be extremely versatile, ranging from mild to hot. Chili powder is best on beef and fish.

Cinnamon: There is an earthy element to cinnamon that allows it to draw out the flavors in smokier blends and barbecues. Used in the right amount, cinnamon can be great on beef and chicken.

Garlic powder: Garlic powder can be used in almost any grilling recipe. It adds a distinctive zing that works best with beef and chicken, but it could be added to fish and pork as well.

Mustard powder: If you like a little tanginess, consider mustard powder. This versatile spice can enhance both the flavor of the meat and the other spices used in a recipe. Mustard powder is best on beef, chicken, and pork.

Paprika: Made from sweet red pepper pods, this spice is available in sweet, spicy, and smoked varieties. It is suitable for fish, chicken, pork, and veal.

While certain spices are recommended for certain meats, ultimately, it is your taste buds that determine what works best. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Grilling spice set prices

If you've never priced spices, you might be surprised by how much they cost. There are several reasons for this, but in general, spices are labor-intensive items that are imported.

Inexpensive: While it may be possible to get a 2.5-ounce container of cinnamon for $1, the spices used in grilling spice sets are typically blended into one seasoning. In other words, you can get a customized blend that costs roughly $3 to $4 per jar in the bargain spice range. If you get a set of three, you can expect to pay around $12.

Mid-range: It is possible to find organic spices in a set for $5 to $6 per jar. In this range, the spices may be a little more robust and come in larger assortments of 5 to 10 jars. Therefore, the price could be anywhere from $25 to $50.

High-end: On the pricey end, spice sets might drop back down to only three flavors. Often, the jars are larger, and some cost as much as $10 per jar, double the price of a mid-range spice set. If you are considering a high-end grilling spice set, be certain it has something that warrants the higher price: larger containers, certified organic ingredients, or a desirable extra, such as serving spoons.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you want to add brown sugar to spices to create a rub, sugar that is fresh and moist works best.

Tips

Grilling spices can make the difference between a meh meal and an unforgettable dining experience. However, it is important to remember that how you store your spices can dramatically affect freshness. Following are a few tips to remember when it comes to storing your grilling spice set.

  • Purchase no more than a six-month supply of spices at one time. After six months, spices may begin to lose their potency.
  • Pay attention to the environmental temperature of your spice rack. The ideal temperature for storing spices is 70ºF.
  • When exposed to heat, the oil in spices dries out. Since the oil is where the flavor is, it is important not to store your spices near a heat source, like in a cabinet or on a shelf above the range.
  • Spices deteriorate more rapidly when exposed to sunlight. Do not store them in an area where they will be exposed to direct sunlight, such as on the counter near a window.
  • Spices should be stored in airtight containers to keep moisture out. The moisture in the air can damage spices. Note that adding spice directly from the container while cooking exposes it to both heat and steam. Note, too, that condensation that appears on a spice jar can have the same effect as water vapor in the air.
  • When you are not sure if a spice is still fresh, take a smell test. If it doesn't smell the way it should, toss it.
If you store your spices in a cold place, such as the refrigerator or the freezer, you run the risk of inviting condensation whenever you remove your spices to use them. This moisture is detrimental to the quality of the spices.

FAQ

Q. What is the difference between herbs and spices?
A.
While herbs and spices are often lumped together and used interchangeably when speaking about flavoring food, they differ in two important ways. First, herbs come from plants that are grown in temperate zones (areas of the world that have four distinct seasons) while spices come from plants grown in tropical zones. Second, herbs come from the leafy part of a plant while spices can come from any other part: buds, bark, roots, seeds, and so on.
 

Q. What is the difference between spice and seasoning?
A.
A spice is best thought of as an ingredient. It adds a specific quality to a recipe that enhances the overall flavor. A seasoning is a mixture of a number of components. It may have herbs, spices, sugars, and more. Often in the grilling world, products labeled as spices are actually seasonings.
 

Q. What about rubs and marinades?
A
: The main difference between a rub and a marinade is that a rub is meant to coat the meat and be a larger part of the tactile experience. As a result, rubs are not typically ground as fine and evenly as seasonings. Also, rubs are more closely associated with barbecuing, not grilling. In order to get a dry rub to stick, it's best to first brush your meat with cooking oil. Wet rubs, however, have an ingredient that makes the consistency closer to a paste, so it is easier to apply.

A marinade is a sauce made from many of the same ingredients as a rub or seasoning, but it's purpose is to add flavor while also tenderizing the meat.

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