Summer Spice Blends

While the beginning of summer is technically nearly a month away, crossing Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer for many of us. And, like every season, summer has flavors very much associated with it. Chief among those are the flavors of the grill. Whether you're making blackened fish, smokey ribs, or citrus-kissed chicken, we've got the seasoning blends for you. And if you're looking for something fun, check out this clever and punny article from Popular Science about how many of the spices we've come to rely upon in the kitchen look very different in nature. Enjoy the quick trip around the world and get ready to fire up the grill!

Blackened chicken or fish brings a lot of flavor to your table and if you are worried it will be too spicy, rest assured that you can tweak the heat in this blend by adding more or less cayenne to this mix or skip it entirely. If you are grilling, try using a cast iron griddle on your grill to evenly distribute the heat and avoid messy flare-ups.

Blackened Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste

Mix the smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, oregano, dry mustard, black pepper, cumin, salt, and cayenne together.

Store the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

  • Yields: About ½ cup
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Ribs are a summer favorite and while many kinds of rubs can be purchased just about everywhere that sells seasonings, it can be particularly fun to make your own. As is the tradition with rib rubs, start with a good standard recipe, like this one below, and tweak it a bit to make it your own. Then, when everyone is raving about your ribs, smile and tell them it's your secret recipe!

Smokey Rib Rub

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix the brown sugar, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne together.

Store the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

  • Yields: About 1 cup
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Chili lime seasoning is my favorite go-to seasoning for pork and chicken. If I have fresh limes, I make it in small batches and use it all. You can also purchase dried lime peel and make it in larger quantities and store it for quick access whenever you are in the mood for a citrusy tang on your grill.

Chili Lime Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (approximately ½ lime or use dried lime peel for a shelf-stable batch)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon granulated sugar

Mix the chipotle pepper, lime zest, cumin, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander, salt, and sugar together.

If you are using dried lime peel, feel free to multiply the seasoning blend and store the mixture in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If using fresh lime peel, use immediately on chicken, ribs, or pork chops.

  • Yields: About 2 tablespoons
  • Preparation Time: 5 minutes