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BBQ Rubs vs. Marinades vs. Sauces: What Are They and How to Use Them

Everyone knows that BBQ rubs, sauces and marinades are all vital to cooking tender and flavorful meat. Yet what are the differences between the three, and when is the best time to use each one?

BBQ Rubs

A rub generally refers to a dry spice that is “rubbed” onto the meat before it is cooked. The dry rub seasons the meat while creating a crust that seals all the juices inside. This results in a crispy outside and tender, juicy inside.

Rubs are typically made with salt, sugar and paprika as the foundation of the blend, and then just about any variety of spices and herbs can be added to it depending on flavor preferences. At Fahrenheit 250 BBQ, we dry rub all our meats before smoking them for 16 hours with a simple rub made of salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder.

Rubs are best used when cooking with dry heat as any type of liquid will cause the rub to become sticky. The best way to use a rub is to apply the rub to the surface of the meat before searing on a hot grill or throwing the meat into a smoker.

BBQ Marinades

Similar to a rub, marinades are used to tenderize and flavor the meat before the cooking process. The biggest difference between a rub and a marinade is that the marinade combines dry spices with liquids. The meat must sit in this mixture for up to several hours to allow the flavor to soak in. Marinades work well with meat that dries out easily, such as chicken or pork.

Most marinades combine acids, spices and juices. The enzymes in the juices and the acids help the meat to break down. The spices add flavor. Combine a mixture of acid, oil and juice with spices to create a marinade that will make your meat tender and flavorful.

Marinating meats is typically best when you have a short amount of cooking time and want to infuse flavors into your meats. Since we slow-smoke our meats for over 12 hours at Fahrenheit 250 BBQ, we don’t marinate our meats because that would overpower the rich smoky flavor that makes barbecue so good.

BBQ Sauces

BBQ sauces add flavor and texture to meat during and after the cooking process. BBQ sauces can be used as a marinade or as a dipping sauce for the meat during the meal.

We believe that good, smoked meat can stand on its own, so we serve our meats unsauced and let you flavor them to taste from our selection of four sauces: Signature BBQ Sauce, Spicy BBQ Sauce, Kentucky Mustard and Carolina Vinegar.

Be the Pitmaster at Home

Want to see how it all comes together for yourself? Try one of our Fahrenheit 250 Rib Kits, which lets you make your own St. Louis-style ribs at home. Each kits includes a rack of ribs (about 3 lbs), one pint of sauce of your choice, one tin of Fahrenheit 250 BBQ Rub and cooking instructions.

High-Wheat and High-Rye Bourbon: What’s the Difference?

Bourbon and barbecue are a match made in heaven.

Not only do some barbecue sauce recipes call for a bit of bourbon, but the two complement each other perfectly. Barbecue loves the bold and complex notes that bourbon brings to the table. Sipping a glass of bourbon while licking the sticky, sweet sauce off your fingers is a great way to round out your meal.

However, the type of bourbon you drink can greatly affect your palate. Different types of bourbon can hit various taste buds on your tongue based on their characteristics and what’s contained in the mash bill—the mix of grains used to make bourbon.

There are two main types of bourbon: high-wheat and high-rye bourbon. Both pair wonderfully with barbecue, but you just might want to choose your bourbon wisely.

What Is Bourbon?

Before we jump into the differences, let’s first define what is considered bourbon (as opposed to just regular whiskey). According to Epicurious, “federal standards, issued by Congress in 1964, stipulate that bourbon must be a grain mixture made of at least 51 percent corn, produced in the United States, and distilled to no more than 160 proof, with nothing other than water added to the mixture (aside from yeast). It must also be aged in new, charred-oak barrels, among other requirements.” That is to say, if the mash bill isn’t at least 51 percent corn or it’s not aged in charred oak, then it’d be considered whiskey, not bourbon.

What Is High-Rye Bourbon?

According to VinePair,  a bourbon with a mash bill containing 20-to-35 percent rye is considered to be a high-rye bourbon.

This concentration of rye gives the bourbon a bolder and spicier flavor.

Examples of high-rye bourbon include Four Roses Single Barrel (which currently has the highest rye count, according to VinePair), Bulleit, Jim Beam Basil Hayden and Old Grand Dad.

The best barbecue to pair with high-rye bourbon: You never want your bourbon and your barbecue to compete with each other. If you’re eating barbecue sauce with spicy or complex notes, steer clear of high-rye bourbons. But if your barbecue falls on the sweet and tangy side, you can feel free to experiment with high-rye.

What Is High-Wheat Bourbon?

High-wheat bourbon has a higher percentage of wheat in the mash bill. This bourbon is often smoother, with a milder flavor. According to VinePair, “Wheat tends to impart earthy, grainier notes to the whiskey.”

High-wheat bourbons include Pappy Van Winkle, Maker’s Mark, Journeyman Wheat, Barton 1792 Distillery and Redemption Wheated Bourbon, among others.

The best barbecue to pair with high-wheat bourbon: You can feel free to get crazy with barbecue when it comes to high-wheat bourbon. Since high-wheat has a milder flavor, you can pair with spicy barbecue sauces and sauces with bolder flavors.

How BBQ is a Style of Food that Can Unite and Create a Shared Experience

Family Meals Build Better Relationships

Eating together as a family does more than just help save a few dollars on delivery, so don’t ignore the importance of eating together when you don’t have time to cook.

Family meals help build lasting relationships that have direct impacts on success. Did you know that kids in families that don’t eat together are twice as likely to be truant? Absenteeism leads to lower graduation rates. Spending time together is a big part of being a family, which is why planning a BBQ night is one way to enjoy a family-style meal, even when you don’t have a lot of time to cook.

Low and Slow

Good BBQ takes time. You cook the meat at low temperatures for a long time. When you cook at home, this gives you lots of time to enjoy the process and the final plate. Of course, time is always a precious commodity, so you can always grab your Fahrenheit 250 BBQ meal to go. When you order family sizes, you get dishes to share that still let you enjoy a meal together, without spending the entire day in preparation.

Home for the Holidays

Over the holidays, it is especially important to spend time together as a family. Tons of social commitments and an increasing workload can keep you out of the house. Family meals are often one of the first things to go. When the kids have holiday activities, and mom or dad have office parties, dinner parties and other obligations, it is easy to forget to make family dinner a priority.

That’s where classic American fare that’s already cooked to perfection comes in. A whole rack of ribs and family style sides, like potato salad or mac ‘n’ cheese, can get everyone excited about sitting around the table. Carving up the meat and passing around the cornbread is all part of the atmosphere. A hot meal before everyone breaks up for the evening activities helps keep your entire family on the same page.

Family Meals Improve Academic Success

If the joy of eating a meal around the table isn’t enough to have you planning your next dinner, just remember that kids do better with that extra parental engagement. Adding in family mealtime makes kids less likely to fall into substance abuse and more likely to do better in an academic setting. You don’t need to cook everything from scratch and go for the 1950s home lifestyle, but spending an hour or so talking during meals can do a lot to preserve your family.

F250 BBQ Makes an Appearance on the Food Network!

Being featured on the Food Network is a huge achievement for any restaurant, and when we got the call that Guy Fieri was interested in filming a portion of the premiere of his new show, Guy’s Big Project, at our restaurant we were ecstatic! On Guy’s Big Project, Guy and his team of esteemed production partners and A-list chefs set out to search for all-star talent to lead Food Network’s next big culinary-travel series.

The six-episode journey documents every twist and turn as the hopefuls move from initial pitch and development through network review, with the ultimate end goal of earning a brand-new show on Food Network.

We were so excited to be featured in the premiere episode of Guy’s Big Project on Sunday, November 5th! The episode started out with the finalists picking a restaurant that best represented them and their show idea, where they filmed a 30-second video to convey what their show would be about. Rashad (R.J.) filmed at Fahrenheit 250, as his passion is BBQ and his show idea is called Eat, Sleep, BBQ. The pressure heated up after the 30-second video competition when contestants were asked to whip up a meal that embodied their show idea in Guy’s personal kitchen. One hopeful prospect was kicked off at the end of the episode.

Did you forget to watch or record the episode? Click the link below to re-live our moment of fame!

The Secret Ingredient to a Great BBQ Sauce

We’re going to let you in on a little secret.

But first, a quick word on barbecue sauce: whether you like to drench your smoked meats in it or simply garnish them with it for a hint of added flavor, every self-respecting barbecue restaurant has their own BBQ sauce. No two sauces are the same, either. Some restaurants make theirs in the tomato-based Kansas City style, while others opt for the bite of vinegar found in the St. Louis style. There are also sauces made in the Memphis and Texas styles, to name a few others.

And then you have Fahrenheit 250’s BBQ sauce.

When you live in the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the country, you just have to put a local spin on your barbecue sauce. At Fahrenheit 250, we make our sauce in-house from scratch using fresh vegetables and spices from the Sacramento region. Our goal was to create a traditional sauce that wasn’t overly sweet, but also had some flair to it. Since we didn’t want to rely on sugar or corn syrup for that added kick like other sauces, we had to use a secret ingredient to give our sauce that sweet, smoky flavor you’ve come to love. That secret ingredient? Bourbon.

We already know barbecue and bourbon are the perfect pairing, so it wasn’t a surprise that bourbon’s flavor profile would also match perfectly with barbecue sauce. Here are three ways bourbon fires up our sauce:

Mutual Smokiness

Both barbecue and bourbon get their distinct smoky flavors from wood. Great barbecue is smoked (not grilled!) in indirect heat for long periods of time (in our case, 12 hours at 250 degrees), while bourbon gets its smoky profile from aging it for extended periods of time in charred white oak barrels. That smokiness creates a tasty contrast with the sweet flavors found in barbecue sauce.

Touch of Sweetness

Speaking of sweet flavors, bourbon has just enough sugar to round out the other flavors vying for attention in a BBQ sauce. This complexity is a perfect pairing to mellow out the spicy flavors found in barbecued pork, bringing a satisfying sweetness to the dish.

Hints of Nutmeg and Cinnamon

Bourbon also features hints of nutmeg and cinnamon, which help boost the spicy kick of a barbecue sauce. With the spicy version of our main BBQ sauce, for example, the hints of nutmeg and cinnamon complement the freshly macerated habaneros blended into the sauce.

After reading this article, see if you can pick out the distinct bourbon flavors in our barbecue sauce the next time you join us for some ‘que. And if you want to try out how it might pair with some other dishes, you can buy our BBQ sauces for your own home cooking use.

Bourbon and Barbecue: The Perfect Pair

It’s no secret that certain foods pair well with certain beverages — just think about the traditional wine and cheese pairing, or bratwurst and beer. But one pairing that’s been gaining in popularity year over year is a uniquely American one: bourbon and barbecue. Pairing bourbon drinks with barbecue is a trend that is growing as quickly as the nationwide craze for barbecue is. Given that September is National Bourbon Heritage Month, it’s a great time to get on board the bourbon and barbecue bus.

If you think about it, pairing barbecue with beer makes perfect sense. Both are traditional delicacies that hail from the Southern United States. Down South, people learn how to barbecue in their backyards from a young age. It is the rare backyard that doesn’t have some kind of smoker in it. When it comes to barbecue, the lower the temperature and the longer the cooking, the better (hence, the name of our restaurant!). In the end, you have a meat that has been slowly smoked into a delicious, tender piece of barbecue.

Bourbon shares some similarities with barbecue when it comes to preparation. Both benefit from very long prep times. The longer you age a bourbon, the deeper and more interesting the flavor becomes. And as with barbecue, the quality and type of the ingredients is as important with bourbon. Just as great mesquite wood in your smoker will produce amazing barbecue, a quality, aged wood cask will help make bourbon intensely flavorful.

After all that smoking and aging time, there is nothing better than pairing a smoky bourbon with a tender hunk of barbecued brisket. The deep flavors of each play off each other in the mouth to make for a sublime meal. In fact, it is the deepness of both bourbon and barbecue flavors that make them perfect for each other. You don’t want to try drinking something light while you eat smoked brisket because a light flavor will be overwhelmed by the earthiness of the meat. Instead, next time you sit down to a plate of barbecue, make sure to pour yourself a beautiful Southern bourbon. It’s a match made in heaven, or the American South.

How to Get that Big, Bold, BBQ Flavor

BBQ means different things to different people. Flavors range from tart and tangy Carolina styles to sweet and spicy Louisiana flavor. Kansas City, Carolina and Texas barbecue styles are some of the most common, and what they have in common is simple — the meat.

Start Slow

Good barbecue always starts with a slow smoked meat. Beef, chicken, pork and even some more unusual meats can decorate the inside of a smoker and, eventually, come out of the pit as a tender and succulent star. Whether you add a thick tomato-based BBQ sauce or like to stop with a dry rub, the key to the best BBQ is all in how you smoke the meat.

Settle in for the Day

Slow smoking meat takes all day. Some cuts might be in the smoker for 12 hours or more before they reach the desired temperature. Cooking at approximately 250 degrees Fahrenheit means it takes a long time to safely smoke meats, but the end result is absolutely worth it. There is no shortcut for tender, juicy, fall-apart smoked meat.

Select Your Smoking Agent

A big part of the final flavor comes from the wood used inside the smoker. Mesquite, pecan, hickory and other hardwoods offer the best smoke and the best flavor. You want plentiful smoke that won’t leave your food tasting ashy or bitter, and the only way to get that is by using hardwood.

There is no one right type of hardwood, as long as you use something that burns slow and hot. Keep in mind that studies show environmental factors are actually more important than the type of wood you use. So, if you buy hickory in more than one place, you might notice some big differences in flavor.

Don’t Rush

Low and slow is the way to cook BBQ meats so they achieve fork tenderness without drying out. At Fahrenheit 250 BBQ, that’s exactly the way meat is prepared — and really the only way to enjoy BBQ. If you rush the smoking, you can ruin the meat. You might wind up with something charred on the outside and undercooked on the inside, or you could take a taste and bite into something that tastes like chemicals.

Dig In

Traditional BBQ calls for a long, slow cooking time over the best hardwoods available (often oak) for a reason — it creates better flavor. After you’ve smelled that rich aroma of the meat slowly smoking, that first bite makes it all worthwhile.

Rib 101: A Q&A With Pitmaster, Jacob Carriker

At Fahrenheit 250 BBQ we have a passion for ribs—slow smoked, fall off the bone they’re so tender, flavor packed, finger lickin’ good ribs. As most people who know BBQ will tell you, BBQ is hard work, and it never gets easier, but you can get better at your slow-smoked techniques. We sat down with our Pitmaster, Jacob Carriker, and got down to business on the tips and tricks that he uses in the restaurant and at home to get his ribs to taste mmm, mmm good.


Q: What’s the secret to capturing the most flavor when cooking ribs?

A: When it comes to BBQ, the flavor is created by applying multiple layers of flavor and complexity. First, add a dry rub to penetrate the meat and impart a strong base of seasoning. The dry rub we use at Fahrenheit 250 consists of granulated garlic, granulated onion, kosher salt, black pepper, cayenne, paprika, brown sugar, cumin, garlic powder and chili powder. During the cooking process, the brown sugar caramelizes within in the rub and creates a crust, forming a second layer of flavor and texture. If you are smoking your ribs, the third layer of flavor comes from the wood and smoke. To me, this is the most important layer of flavor – who doesn’t love that smoky taste?  Finally, the fourth layer of flavor is created when the fat renders from the low and slow cooking technique.

Q: Do you use a mop to apply sauce while cooking?

A: It is not necessary, but on occasion, I will use a mop to apply sauce to ribs when cooking at home.

Q: What are the different ways/techniques you can use to cook ribs at home?

A: The best way to cook ribs is to use a real wood smoker. If you aren’t able to cook with a wood smoker, I would suggest using a pellet, chip or wood disk smoker. If you already have a charcoal grill at home, you can get a lot of good flavors. I recommend cooking the ribs with the charcoal offset from the meat in this case. Propane grills can be difficult to work with, but with a little know-how you can, you can create smoke with a wood chip box. The upside with propane or gas grills is that you can control the temperature precisely. My last choice is to cook ribs in the oven. Let’s face it, ribs are meant to be cooked outside!

Q: How do you know when ribs are done?

A: I recommend using a nice thermometer to test the temperature of the meat. My favorite is this one (link “this one” to a good thermometer). You can check the temperature of the meat at any time through an app on your phone. You can also never go wrong with the old school way – pick up the slab and see if the ribs bend. The meat should fall off of the bone with little effort.

Q: Is there a technique you use when it comes to cutting ribs?

A: Flip your rack of ribs length up with the small part of the bone in the air. Then drag your knife against the bone on the right side.

Q: When is the best time to apply sauce?

A: There are two, and ONLY two times. A few minutes before pulling your ribs you can apply sauce on top, or toss them in the sauce after cutting the ribs. At home, I will usually toss my ribs with sauce after cutting them. Our sauce is prepared in-house and has been cooked down, so all of the flavors stand out on their own. There is no reason to cook the sauce again because it will change the flavor.

Q: Are there any other secrets that you can think of?

A: Stop checking your ribs.

Stop letting out the heat.

Let them rest.

Invite friends and family over to enjoy them with you!


Think you’ve got what it takes to make fall off the bone ribs at home? We’re here to help you out.

Throughout the month of July, we are offering a complete Make-at-Home Rib Kit. Our kits come with one rack of St. Louis-style ribs (approximately 3 lbs.), one 6 oz. Tin of rub, one 16 oz. Bottle of your choice of BBQ sauce, and Pitmaster instructions on how to prepare your ribs at home.
Order online or give us a call and stop by Fahrenheit 250 BBQ. With your bbq instructions and the tips you learned here, we guarantee your friends and family will start calling you pitmaster, too.


Click Here to Place Your Rib Kit Order

This Little Piggy Has a New Happy Hour Menu!

We’re excited to announce that we have a new happy hour menu at Fahrenheit 250! Join us at the Fahrenheit Bar from 2PM to 6PM from Tuesday through Sunday for rotating happy hour and special discounts.

Day-Specific Specials

(2PM – 6PM)


A BBQ-centric Taco Tuesday featuring $2 pulled pork or chopped brisket tacos with coleslaw, corn, avocado cream, and salsa.

This one speaks for itself; $1 Slow Smoked Ribs coated with F250 Rub and a little brown sugar.

A Burger Bonanza that Big Hoss would approve of. Enjoy Buy 1 get 1 Free on any of our burgers (Of equal or lesser value).

Also known as Frito Friday, $4 for our Deluxe version of a Frito Pie; chili, cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalapeno, onion, and tomato.

Enjoy your weekend with half-off appetizers from 2 p.m. –
5 p.m. in the bar.

Football Fever has made us delirious. We’ve got Happy Hour all day in the bar.

Sacramento State Discount:
$10 Pulled Pork or Brisket Sandwich with Side and a Beverage Anytime with valid ID

Daily Happy Hour Menu

(2PM – 6PM)


$1 Off All Draft Beers

Well Drinks – 3

Auburn Alehouse Gold Pilsner – 3


BBQ Potato Skins – 6
Potato skins with cheddar cheese, pulled pork, sour cream, bacon, jalapeno, corn, and our Signature Sauce


Breaded and fried, with piccalilli relish and jalapeno aioli

F250 WINGS – 5
Choose from: F250 Dry Rub | Signature BBQ
Sauce | Buffalo Style

Your choice of Pulled Pork with coleslaw | Chopped Brisket with pickles and onions | Tri Tip with ceviche

Your choice of pulled pork or brisket with fresh tortilla chips, cheese sauce, jalapeno, corn, black beans, red onion, and tomato

°Fahrenheit 250 BBQ

Handcrafted BBQ Forged From Wood Fire & Steel