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Author Topic: Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)  (Read 891 times)

Mike in Roseville

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Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)
« on: November 09, 2017, 12:24:18 PM »
In the quest for trying out some new rubs, I ordered a few Oakridge Rub samplers to try out before committing some serious coin to a larger quantity.

Part 1 will be the Gold Edition rubs :

Dominator Sweet Rib Rub
Competition Beef & Pork Rub
Secret Weapon Pork & Chicken Rub
Santa Maria Steak Seasoning

I will offer my initial impressions of the following, and gradually offer up my followup impressions once I have used them during a cook. I have labeled this post Part 1, so that Part 2 can be devoted to their Signature Edition Rubs.

Overall, these rubs are all top-notch. There is no "dog" in the bunch. They are fresh and the grind on all of the components is really uniform. I think they are well-executed and appropriately named. Each bag has roughly 1/4" cup in it.

Here we go:


Nose: Very complex. Subtle cinnamon/spice.
Palate: Salt forward, but balanced. Sweetness from the honey/sugar plays very well with the salt and pepper (and red pepper/paprika) in here.
Initial Impressions: The cinnamon isn't something I would normally add to a BBQ rub, but I think it works here for just an added layer of complexity. The cinnamon/spice is not as forward as say...some Baharat spice blends. This is designed for ribs and I think its about right, but I wouldn't be afraid to use it in some Middle Eastern/Moroccan recipes (they just wont be as aromatic/noticeable) or any dish you want to jazz up a little. I may try a little on some grilled veggies (squash or eggplant). Having tried many spice blends with cinnamon in the past, I can say its subtle enough to be barely noticeable (if so) in BBQ (think KC rather than dusted Memphis ribs). Especially if used in conjunction with sauce. The honey too, offers a different type of sweetness (as opposed to straight cane sugar). At the end of the day, everything is fine-tuned and subtle. If you're stuck in a rut, this may be just the ticket to getting you inspired again.
Last Words: I am really looking forward to see how this performs on some baby backs this weekend.


Nose: Smells very similar to the Chris Lilley championship rub.
Palate: Tastes quite similar to the CL rub too. I'd guess it has more black pepper, and more chile pepper in it (for the beef).
Initial Impressions: If I hadn't ever made/tried the CL rub, this would be an eye-opening experience. I really think this is aptly named. If you, or you know someone just getting into smoking ribs or pork butts, this would be a great place to start. I dont know if I'd use it on a brisket, but there is enough pepper in it, where I can see it possibly working.
Last Words: This tastes like an "amped" version of a classic paprika/sugar flavor profile. Nice work Oakridge!

Secret Weapon

Nose: Smells like a nicely made seasoning salt.
Palate: Salt/black pepper/garlic/subtle sweet. Very balanced.
Initial Impressions: This is excellent. I would use this for a variety of foods as a seasoning, but I think would work incredibly well with chicken. The initial heat comes from the black pepper, but there is just a tiny bit of red pepper in there that you can feel, so slightly in the back of the throat.
Last Words: I have tried a few chicken rubs. I still need to check out a couple of more. But so far, this is one of the best I have found.

Santa Maria

Nose: Garlic, subtle smoked chile
Palate: Garlic, salt, smoked chile, slightest touch of sweet.
Initial Impressions: So I have to admit, growing up in California's Central Valley and living on the Central Coast, I have made and eaten a variety of Santa Maria style tri tips over the past 30 years. I wouldn't say I'm an authority, but I know more about these flavors than I do about certain intricacies of other regional BBQ. Some of the best Santa Maria tri tips use wet and dry ingredients to really make the flavors pop. This has a great deal of complexity, without needing red wine vinegar or a garlic infused oil. I make my own SM seasoning that is very close to this. I think the proportions are just a touch different, but Oakridge got the basic flavor profile right. Garlic is the star, salt and pepper are backup and there can be some subtle things to round out. What they have done which I haven't tried before is they used smoke chile powder instead of a typically had California/New Mexico/Cayenne powders. Its very subtle, but it works quite well. Another thing they add, which I (and most SM blends) typically don't is sugar. It's very subtle here which again, tugs at the traditional 'savory' element that makes Santa Maria tri tips so memorable. Honestly, I like it. My wife likes it. I could probably get pretty close replicating this, and just may try adding a little sugar and chipotle powder to my personal SM blend down the road. For now, I'll just buy this and keep it handy. It would be great on beef, chicken, veggies, etc. I would even try it as more of a finishing style rub for chicken as well. Did I mention...I like it?
Last Words: This is a traditional Santa Maria blend, that has been elevated a little in a creative way. Flat-out good!

My plan is to use the first 3 rubs individually this weekend on a single rack of baby backs to see how these stack up.

To be continued...
« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 12:26:24 PM by Mike in Roseville »
On the hunt for: "E" Code 18WSM


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Re: Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2017, 12:30:06 PM »
Curious on your thoughts about the Black Ops brisket rub when you try it. Really great rub and the shiitake mushrooms in it adds a great flavor.

Sent from my iPhone using Weber Kettle Club mobile app

Mike in Roseville

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  • Posts: 1157
Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 01:00:30 PM »

I’m really excited to try that one too! That’s really the reason why I got the signature series sampler so that I could check out the Black Ops. I hadn’t really heard of Oakridge until I saw your Black Ops brisket a while back. Once I started researching them, I knew I had to check out their products. I’m really glad they made these little sample packs (and shipped them free).

I haven’t heard anything negative about their products and so far...I have been nothing but impressed.

These rubs are excellent!

Sent from my iPhone using Weber Kettle Club mobile app
On the hunt for: "E" Code 18WSM

Mike in Roseville

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  • Posts: 1157
Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 09:22:49 PM »
Over the weekend I tried some of the gold and signature seasonings on vortex chicken breast halves and thinly sliced sirloin that I did over the vortex (ala hibachi) one night; and ribs on the WSM the next day. A few reasons for this. Chicken was on sale, but I wanted to try these seasonings with beef without breaking the bank. I went with a simple, solid base coat on both the chicken and beef. Out of the packages and nothing else added. No base layer, extra dusting, etc. No brining or special techniques. I just wanted to see how the flavors mingled with the meat. No smoke wood either (for the chicken/beef). For the ribs I basically opted for a medium dusting and hung them on the rack (eventually wrapping and then saucing).

So how do they stack up?

Of the four “Gold Series” rubs, the clear favorite in the house was the Santa Maria. I liked it and so did my wife. She thought it was right for chicken, but needed more salt for beef. As she is a non-smoker with a true smoker’s affinity for salt, I am actually inclined to agree with her on this. It doesn’t need much, but a little more salt would really help for beef. The subtleties of the chipotle powder really faded and tasted like a complex “seasoning salt.” It did well with beef and chicken, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use this with potato wedges as well. I think for the Santa Maria tri-tips I will stick with my current combination of dry and wet. However, for a strict rub to capture the style, I think its “in the ballpark” and shows the “inspiration.” Going to pick up some of this for sure!

I also really liked the Secret Weapon rub on chicken. This is where you want to be if you own a rotisserie and love making chickens. No “hard edges” on the palate when it comes to yardbird I have a feeling it will be fantastic. Maybe in combination with another rub it would really compliment beef nicely? I didn’t try it on pork.

The Competition Beef/Pork and Dominator were used for some baby backs on Sunday.
They were both good. I would say if I had to choose one, it would be the Competition rub. However, neither really “wowed” me. My wife explicitly said she prefers my usual rub to these. Dominator was no slouch, but the cinnamon is one of those things that seems a little out of place on ribs. It was very subtle after cooking, but I could still pick it out. Maybe its that one “thing” that is supposed to make your ribs stand out? My wife couldn’t articulate what it was about the Dominator ribs, but she knew they were a little different. Again, I think these rubs could have benefited from just a little more salt. However, I appreciate the fact that Oakridge didn’t go salt-heavy with these. These rubs may be excellent in competition. However, in competition you have injected, pre-rub, multiple coats of rub, etc. to achieve a specific flavor profile that may offer more of the MSG/Salt profile that would make a winning combination.

I personally feel like these Oakridge rubs don’t solve the flavor puzzle for the average backyard griller, but they do present themselves as a large and significant piece of that puzzle. The quality is excellent and these sample packs are a great way to try a variety of their offerings before committing to a larger quantity.

Next up…

Oakridge Rubs Part 2…The Signature Rubs.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2017, 09:25:35 PM by Mike in Roseville »
On the hunt for: "E" Code 18WSM

Mike in Roseville

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Re: Oakridge BBQ Rubs (Part 1)
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2017, 12:23:33 PM »
Just an update (and amendment):

After seasoning some Country Fried potatoes this morning with Santa Maria seasoning, I have to amend the comment of "not enough salt."

As you know potatoes really need an ample amount of seasoning. I added a good solid coating a few times during the cook. What I found was once I reached the "salt point" that I liked, the garlic became really dominant along with a nice level of heat from the chile powder. All of the other flavors seemed to "gather around the salt" like a spice chorus.

Suffice it to say...both my wife and I thought they were really good!
On the hunt for: "E" Code 18WSM