This was a really fun review to work on, thanks to the great labels and branding and amazing variety of flavors in the 3 rubs and the BBQ sauce.
Johnny Secreto features rubs and recipes from an Old World Italian Family
Here are 3 very different, yet flavorful rubs and their BBQ sauce counterpart from Johnny Secreto. Let’s look at the products, and then we’ll talk about the grilled chicken tenders we cooked with each.
Ingredients: sugar, paprika, garlic salt, seasoning salt, celery salt, onion salt, herbs, spices – 3.0 oz jar.
This really is a “classic” style rub, as it includes all the basic ingredients that a good rub is built upon. Look up any basic rub recipe, and you’ll see a similar list. Of course, Johnny Secreto has added their own unique spice blends to personalize it.
Having the finest grind of the three, it’s powdery, sweet and salty. The celery salt is quite prominent. I know a lot of folks don’t care for celery flavorings, but if you love Old Bay Seasoning, you’ll like this. Not that this rub is of the seafood seasoning variety, I’m just comparing it to one of the most well-known, celery salt laden seasonings. Good for: burgers, ribs, poultry, potatoes.
Sultan’s Gold Rub
Ingredients: brown sugar, kosher salt, garlic salt, spices – 2.5 oz jar.
The Sultan’s Gold has the coarsest makeup, and indeed has a yellowish-gold look to it. We think it’s very Mediterranean in flavor, and very pungent with hints of coriander and a little touch of curry. Good for: wild game, lamb, salmon, pork or poultry.
Ingredients: brown sugar, kosher salt, herbs, spices – 2.75 oz jar.
This medium-light grind was a little clumpy due to the moisture in the brown sugar. It was also the sweetest tasting of the 3, with an ever so slight spicy finish. Secreto’s claims there is a chipotle finish to it, but we only detect a tinge of chile heat – not noticeable enough to identify it as chipotle. Good for: chicken, grilled quesadillas, or as a spice for taco meat or added to salsa or dips.
Craft BBQ Sauce
Ingredients: extra thick ketchup (tomato concentrate, sugar, vinegar, salt, onion powder, spices, natural flavors), dark brown sugar, apple vinegar, water, worcestershire sauce (distilled white vinegar, molasses, water, sugar, onions, anchovies, salt, garlic, cloves, tamarind extract, natural flavorings, chile pepper extract), liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, other spices. Contains soy and fish. – 12 oz bottle.
Dark brown colored and medium thick, this is a sweet, spicy (peppery) sauce. We’re just talking about ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, worcestershire, and spices – pretty typical. There is the addition of liquid smoke, but I don’t feel it’s overpowering at all. I’m a fan of liquid smoke – when used lightly – and I think it’s just fine here. (There are legions of liquid smoke haters out there, and that’s fodder for a whole different discussion).
Secreto’s Craft BBQ Sauce, while delicious, is pretty standard fare. Very good, but not spectacularly different. But, it really shined when paired with the rubs. It would make a great BBQ sauce on pulled pork too, paired with the Backyard Classic rub.
Grilled chicken with Johnny Secreto rubs and Craft BBQ Sauce
For each of the 3 rubs, we marinated 1/2 pound of chicken tenders with 3 tsp of rub, and 2 tsp of olive oil in zip top baggies for about 3 hours.
Then we grilled the tenders over a medium direct heat. Near the end of grilling, we sauced half of them with Johnny Secreto Craft BBQ Sauce, to see how the sauce worked with each of the rubs.
Johnny Secreto Backyard Classic Rub
Brian – Truly tastes like a classic rub, but a bit salty, which rubs can be in general. Usually the saltiness gets “washed away” or minimized with either a marinade or with the addition of a sauce (more on that later). I think this rub would make a great savory deep fried wing. On the tenders we grilled, I liked it very much. But I did use a heavy hand and would back off a bit next time.
Marilyn – Tastes a little too salty for me but I do pick up on the sweetness, and the paprika and garlic and onion. There’s also a good bit of black pepper going on. Other than the salt, it’s pretty enjoyable and flavorful.
With Craft Sauce:
Brian – The sauce added a perfect sweet blend that really cut back on the saltiness. I can now say this would be a killer wing recipe, either deep fried or grilled as we’ve done here. This is a must-try combo.
Marilyn – I’m getting a lot of sweetness from both the rub and sauce together. I agree with Brian, that the sauce helped temper the salt in the rub. There’s also a nice dark flavor from the worcestershire in the sauce, with some heat coming in at the end – mildly spicy. The Craft Sauce caramelized nicely on the chicken. Winner!
Johnny Secreto Sultan’s Gold Rub
Brian – Very savory, yet very floral. Definitely the strongest flavored of the rubs. Impressive in looks, taste and feel. I love the big bits of spices. On the chicken, as you can see in the pics, the rub is a big player in both appearance and texture. I was blown away from the big impact this rub had on the dry tenders.
Marilyn – I see lots of coriander seed and hulls, other herbs, and some pepper flakes. Very aromatic and herbaceous. I’m not sold on this being a good rub on chicken. I’m thinking bigger foods, like beef ribs, or pork loins or tenderloins.
With Craft BBQ Sauce:
Brian – The same underlying floral bouquet, this time with the added sweetness and spice of the Craft BBQ sauce. Very hearty with big flavors. But with the Gold rub, I prefer the dry rubbed chicken. I can see this would be a perfect seasoning on lamb or other game meats, too.
Marilyn – Totally different now with the sauce. I like this much better than just the dry rub, but I still feel this rub is made for beef ribs or pork loin. I can’t speak to the lamb, as I’m not a fan of that meat.
Johnny Secreto Mexicallia Rub
Brian – If you remember, this rub was a bit clumpy due to the moisture in the brown sugar, and it shows up again here on these dry rubbed chicken tenders. Whether it’s just a little sweat from the brown sugar releasing the moisture, or the rub itself drawing out moisture from the chicken, the tacky look and feel was not appetizing. The flavor was very muted – just not enough for me. With barely a hint of spice, this rub was the blandest of the three. Perhaps a heavier dose would be in order. It seems to want to be a “Southwest” style of seasoning, but just doesn’t quite get there.
I would recommend Johnny Secreto kick up the chile flavor (whether chipotle, or other) to bring this rub up to the level of flavor that the other 2 rubs bring.
Marilyn – While it’s the least salty of the 3 rubs, and some chile and cumin show up in my mouth, it’s very tame compared to the others. Definitely very sweet, and pleasant, but it’s not really a chile or southwest player. At least not at the level to which we are accustomed.
With Craft BBQ Sauce:
Brian – Again, the Craft BBQ Sauce has enhanced this rub – really bringing out more flavor more than the rub alone. This rub just might not be for chicken – at least in the way we prepared it.
Marilyn – I agree that the sweetness of the sauce really pumped up the flavor of the Mexicalli Rub. And like Brian said, this just may not be for grilled chicken alone. Maybe in a quesadilla or other Mexican fare it would be good.
While all of the rubs and the sauce are delicious, each brings its own strong suit. There is nothing wrong with any of them, the packaging and labeling is top notch, and the logo, graphics, and personna of Johnny Secreto is simply stellar.
But of course we have our favorites.
Brian – My favorite overall was the Backyard Classic rub with the Craft BBQ sauce combo. Next would be the incredibly flavorful Gold rub, and I liked this one both dry and sauced. Finally, the Mexicalli with the sauce – it has potential as is, but could be so much bolder.
Marilyn – My favorite combo was also the Backyard Classic with the BBQ sauce. A perfect pairing of rub and sauce. Then the Mexicalli with sauce is my 2nd place favorite. And I thought the Sultan’s Gold with sauce was a huge flavorful player here, but I would use it with caution – and perhaps not on chicken, but the heartier meats.
We concur the Craft Sauce improves all the rubs, at least on the grilled chicken that we used for this review.
Backyard Classic Rub – – A perfectly balanced blend of seasonings.
Sultan’s Gold Rub – – Huge flavor and great appearance and texture. Not your everyday rub.
Mexicalli Rub – – Could be spicier and more robust. Needs improvement.
Craft BBQ Sauce – – It’s pretty darn good. We reserve additional thoughts once we’ve tried it on pork (ribs or pulled). However, it was key to the success of all the rubs. They’re made for each other.
Overall Rating – – Great flavors, quality ingredients, and super cool graphics all add up to top notch offerings. Packing rubs in glass jars is very classy. Kudos.
We highly recommend any and all of their products to our readers – they are all winners. Speaking of all of their products – they also make an Old World Spaghetti Sauce as well as an Espresso Especial Rub, both of which we hope to try soon. They also have a dry pasta you might be interested in.
Visit http://johnnysecreto.com/ today, and get yourself a basketful of these wonderful products. We thank them for the opportunity to review them. And be sure and check out their family history on their About page.
Disclaimer: We received this product courtesy of the manufacturer for review.