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Cajun Spice Rub

Cajun spice rub. A kick of seasoning from Louisiana, salt-free so you can add your own salt separately. Inspired by loyal reader Jason, who asked about spice rubs…

I hate buying spice blends from the store.  Hate, hate, hate it.  It’s not that they aren’t good; some of them are great. It’s not that they don’t work. Spice blends are a quick way to add a punch of flavor. It’s that spice blends are all salt.

Check the label – store bought spice blends always have salt as the first ingredient. That means salt is the most common ingredient in the jar. Salt, which sells for sixty-nine cents a pound (or three bucks a pound if you buy fancy Kosher salt like me.) Spice blends sell for three bucks an ounce, if not more. I can understand why the spice companies do it – people want the blends, and they can make a lot of money that way.
*There are exceptions, of course: blends that don’t have any salt include chili powder, herbes de provence, curry powder, and italian seasoning. But, I always check the label – if salt is the first or second ingredient, I’m paying spice prices for salt. And, obviously, that bothers me.

The other problem is spice blends with salt in them make it hard to season food properly. If you use brines as often as I do, you can’t use store-bought spice blends without over salting the food.

OK, rant over. I usually throw together my spice blends, from my spice cabinet, in small quantities.  But I make Cajun seasoning in big batches, so I always have it at hand. I’ve been a fan of Cajun seasoning ever since I heard my first “BAM!” from Emeril, over ten years ago.* Back then, there was no choice – if I wanted Emeril’s essence seasoning, I had to make my own. When Emeril started selling his line of spice blends in the grocery store, I thought my work was over. That’s how I found out about salt in spice blends – I flipped the jar over, to see if it matched the recipe I used, and saw salt listed as the first ingredient.  Oh, well, back to mixing my own.
*Gaah! Was it really ten years ago? (Doing math in my head).  Ugh.  It was even longer than that…

Recipe: Cajun Spice Rub

Adapted From: Emeril Lagasse, Louisiana Real and Rustic
Special Thanks to: Dan Koontz for crystallizing my thoughts about spices with is Ten Tips to Save Money on Spices [CasualKitchen.blogspot.com]

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Cajun Spice Rub

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


Cajun spice rub. A kick of seasoning from Louisiana, salt-free so you can add your own salt separately.


  • ½ cup paprika
  • ½ cup granulated garlic
  • ¼ cup granulated onion
  • ¼ cup fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup dried oregano
  • ¼ cup dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper


  1. Mix up the blend: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until completely mixed. Store in a sealed container for up to six months.


  • Makes about 2 cups of spice blend
  • If you want to kick it up a notch (BAM!) increase the cayenne to ¼ cup. And stand back.
  • Category: Building Blocks
  • Method: Mix
  • Cuisine: American
Mixing up the spice blend with the best tool available – my fingers.

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Homemade Barbecue Rub

Adapted from: Emeril Lagasse, Louisiana Real and Rustic

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Pomegranate says

    Hi Mike
    Great article. I have watched my wife growing and making up her own spice blends for years. I just always wondered why she was doing it until i found out about salt levels and taste. Im happier now i know she trying to do us a favor..lol.
    Thanks again.

  2. Carol says

    Nearly half the contents of my spice racks is homemade spice mixes. Another way I cut down on the cost of seasonings is to visit my local bulk store, and buy spices there, for far less than I’d have to pay for the little bottles in the grocery store. I buy bottles, 3/$1.00 at the dollar store, and stick labels on them.

    Great article, too – people need to learn to taste food, not salt, and making up your own blends let you do just that.

  3. Mike, I completely agree with your rational, and have been doing the same thing, varying it up on occasion as the mood strikes me. One difference in our approach is that I don’t put the freshly ground pepper in the rub. Instead, I grind the pepper at the time I use it, so as to have it be that much fresher. I have the 9 in. Magnum pepper mill, which I love, and I always do the salt and pepper and then add the rub. Keep up the good work!

  4. Linda says

    Wow – you nailed it right on the head. I also started making my own spice blends when Emeril came on TV and you could access his recipe for BAM on the interwebs. The reason I still make my own blends is also because of the salt issue – I want to control the salt. Love your blog Mike. I’ve learned tons from you.

  5. I’ve been making my own rubs and spice blends for years also. Fresher and more economical! Keep up the great blog!

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