Photo: Claire Lower
If you are a grilling enthusiast, smoker joker, or BBQ dad, you probably get a lot of grilling related gifts, including cheeky aprons, personalized tongs, and lots and lots of spice blends and rubs. As someone who writes about grilling and smoking, I get a lot of those rubs sent to me by the people who make them, and I simply do not eat enough smoked meat to use them up in a timely manner. Luckily, there is a great off-label use for those smokey mixtures: Mash them into some cream cheese to make a sweet and salty BBQ-flavored cheese spread.
I actually got this idea off of a bottle of BBQ rub, Meathead Goldwyn’s Amazing Smoked Pork Seasoning and Dry Brine, to be exact. The bottle did not give me an exact ratio or recipe, but I—a woman in STEM—was able to figure it out. (I mashed some into some cream cheese until it tasted like I wanted it to.)
I landed on a ratio of 1 1/2 teaspoons of rub for 8 ounces of full-fat cream cheese, but this could vary slightly from rub to rub, depending on their respective sodium contents. (Some rubs, in fact, do not come with any salt mixed in at all, so you will have to add a little separately.)
To make the spread, take an 8-ounce block of softened cream cheese, and put it in a bowl. Add a teaspoon of your rub to the bowl, and mash it up with a fork until fully incorporated. Serve with saltines, celery sticks, or—my personal favorite—Wheat Thins, with a touch of pepper jelly. If you wanted to get truly wild you could blend it with sour cream (double the rub), and dip some BBQ chips in there.