The Rub Ingredient Sunny Anderson Added To Her Repertoire After Filming BBQ Brawl - Exclusive

What's the sign of an accomplished barbecuer? Maybe, to steal the words of the Greek philosopher Socrates, it's to acknowledge that "all I know is that I know nothing," or as Sunny Anderson recently told Tasting Table, "the first time you think that you know everything about cooking or grilling is the last time." 

Anderson is hardly a BBQ season novice, which is abundantly clear if you've followed her in her first season taking on Iron Chefs Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell on the Food Network classic, "BBQ Brawl."  The celebrated home chef nonetheless went into the show ready to learn and recently shared her top takeaways with us, among them an essential rub ingredient that she'd never used before. 

If you've been using lemon or lime zest to give your rubs an extra tang, try white vinegar powder instead. "I never heard of it, didn't think it existed, but it makes so much sense, and you can get it in a powder form. It's great to add to seasoning blends when you want something tangy and zippy instead of ... lemon zest or some lime zest. White vinegar powder really puts that punch in there that you need." 

Combine your rub with barbecue sauce, for more flavor

Use your rub, as Sunny Anderson once suggested to Today, as a dry marinade that will give your ribs flavors and "a nice crust" — but if you're chasing after what Anderson calls a "finger-licking experience," don't skimp out on adding barbecue sauce to your ribs right before you take them off the grill.

"You put it on at the end ... because you want it to actually be a part of whatever you're grilling," Anderson exclusively advised Tasting Table. "When you put them on, say, 10 to 15 minutes before you're done, the heat of the grill still will allow some of the moisture to evaporate from the sauce, and allows it to thicken a little bit, and then actually stick." If you don't want to make your own, you can dress up any of your preferred storebought ones with simple pantry items, as Anderson told us. Add canned, crushed pineapples for sweeter sauces, the Food Networks star suggested, or — for a spicier sauce — stir in a spoonful of gochujang or jalapeño jelly.

Get more BBQ tips from Sunny Anderson, Bobby Flay, and Anne Burrell on Season 4 of "BBQ Brawl."  New episodes air every Monday on Food Network.