3 Killer Ways to Spice Up Your Grilling

blackened chicken

We all know that grilling is a great way to impart summertime flavor on meats and veggies, but sometimes it can get—ahem—boring. Especially if you’re used to just sprinkling some salt and pepper on a chicken breast and calling it dinner. Sometimes simplicity is beautiful, but a boring, bland chicken breast? There’s nothing beautiful about that. Friends don’t let friends eat bland chicken!

The key to flavorful, knock-your-socks-off, healthy grilled eats: SPICES! Open up your spice cabinet and work your magic on chicken, pork, fish, veggies, or even tofu with these three spice blends below. They add no calories, fat, or sodium (if you choose to skip the added salt) to your grilled goodies, but they do add a ton of flavor. Let’s get to grillin’!

All-Purpose Grill Rub

all purpose spice mixThis grill seasoning is exactly what it sounds like—a great, all-around rub that works on beef, chicken, seafood, veggies, or even tofu. You can also make it in bulk and give it away as fun gifts!

Makes: About 1 cup spice rub


  • 1/3 cup sea salt, optional
  • 1/3 cup maple or brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. black pepperall purpose spice mix
  • 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. red cayenne pepper


  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Store in an airtight container.

Cajun Blackening Seasoning

blackening spiceThis spicy seasoning is typically used when pan-searing fish, but it works beautifully on the grill, too. It’s best on fish or chicken, but it’ll add a bit of kick to almost anything you grill.


  • 2 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper (more or less depending on taste, 1 tsp. is medium spicy)blackened chicken
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, optional


  1. Mix all ingredients well.
  2. Store in a shake-top bottle.

Mesquite Seasoning

The flavor that we all know as “mesquite” comes from a dessert tree that most of us don’t have access to. This spice rub fakes the mesquite flavor using ground dried mushrooms (which you can get in your grocery store, and then grind using a coffee grinder). It’s great on chicken!

mesquite chickenIngredients

  • 1 Tbsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. tomato powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp. mushroom powder (optional)


  1. Combine all ingredients in a coffee grinder, and grind until no large chunks remain.
  2. Transfer to an airtight container for storage.
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Cassie Johnston is an award-winning food writer and recipe developer living and working in Southern Indiana. Her work has been feature in national publications such as Gourmet Magazine and The Huffington Post. Cassie’s a big fan of strenuous hikes, cheese, watching sports, Brussels sprouts, and craft beer, and she’ll talk your ear off about her love of local food and seasonal eating. She’s obsessed with social media and loves connecting with new friends!