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Is garlic parmesan from Wingstop a dry rub?

Garlic parmesan is a popular flavor offered at Wingstop for chicken wings and other menu items. It provides a zesty, garlicky taste combined with the nuttiness of parmesan cheese. But there is often some confusion around whether garlic parmesan from Wingstop should be classified as a dry rub or a wet sauce. In this article, we’ll examine the ingredients and preparation of Wingstop’s garlic parmesan to definitively answer whether it qualifies as a dry rub or wet sauce.

What is a dry rub?

A dry rub is a blend of dried spices, herbs, and sometimes salt that is rubbed directly onto meat before cooking. Dry rubs add flavor and texture, and the drying action of the spices helps to tenderize the meat. Common ingredients in dry rubs include salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, and dried herbs like oregano, thyme, or rosemary.

The key defining features of a dry rub are:

  • It contains no liquids, only dried spices and herbs.
  • It is rubbed directly onto the meat.
  • It adds flavor and aids in tenderizing meat.

Applying a dry rub allows the spices to permeate into the meat for maximum flavor. The meat is then cooked, which allows the rub to form a flavorful, textured bark or crust on the exterior.

What defines a wet sauce?

In contrast to dry rubs, wet sauces have a moist, liquid texture. Common examples of wet sauces include barbecue sauce, Buffalo sauce, teriyaki sauce, and any sauce that contains liquids like vinegar, oil, soy sauce, etc.

Characteristics of a wet sauce include:

  • Contains liquid ingredients like vinegar, oil, tomatoes, etc.
  • Has a viscous, moist texture.
  • Is spooned or poured over meat, not rubbed directly onto it.
  • Provides flavor and moisture during cooking.

The liquid state allows a wet sauce to adhere and coat the meat during cooking. As it cooks, the sauce can penetrate the meat with moisture and become thick and sticky.

Garlic Parmesan Ingredients

To determine whether Wingstop’s garlic parmesan is a dry rub or wet sauce, we need to examine the specific ingredients.

According to the Wingstop website, the garlic parmesan flavor contains the following ingredients:

  • Garlic powder
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Parsley
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Spices

Right away, we can see several dried ingredients typical of a dry rub, including garlic powder, parmesan cheese, and onion powder. There are no wet ingredients listed like oil, vinegar or soy sauce.

Closer Look at Key Ingredients

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the key garlic parmesan ingredients:

Garlic Powder – Dehydrated, ground garlic that provides concentrated flavor. As a dried powder, it contains no moisture.

Grated Parmesan Cheese – Dry, grated parmesan cheese adds nutty, savory flavor. It contains very little moisture.

Parsley – Dried parsley flakes add flavor and green flecks for aesthetics. The drying process removes moisture.

Black Pepper – A dried ground spice that adds pungency. Pepper contains no liquid.

Onion Powder – Dehydrated minced onions that provide flavor. Like garlic powder, it is moisture-free.

Preparation Method

In addition to the dry ingredients, the preparation method for garlic parmesan wings at Wingstop also supports it being categorized as a dry rub:

  • The garlic parmesan blend is stored dry and mixed with oil just prior to service.
  • The oil aids adherence to the wings but does not change the moisture content.
  • The garlic parmesan spice blend is rubbed directly onto the cooked wings.
  • The wings are tossed to evenly coat them with the spices.
  • No wet sauce or dipping sauce is used.

This process of directly applying the dry spice blend to coat the wings aligns with the typical preparation method for a dry rub.

Comparison to Traditional Dry Rubs

How does Wingstop’s garlic parmesan compare to a traditional dry rub in terms of ingredients and texture?

Attribute Typical Dry Rub Wingstop Garlic Parmesan
Ingredients Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, oregano, thyme Garlic powder, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, onion powder
Texture Dry, powdery, grainy Dry, powdery
Application Rubbed directly onto meat Rubbed directly onto wings

As this comparison shows, Wingstop’s garlic parmesan aligns very closely with a typical dry rub in both ingredients and preparation method. The only difference is the inclusion of parmesan cheese, which is still a dry ingredient.

Comparison to Traditional Wet Sauces

To further confirm that garlic parmesan is a dry rub, let’s compare it to some classic wet sauces:

Attribute Typical Wet Sauce Wingstop Garlic Parmesan
Ingredients Tomato sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, oil, corn syrup Garlic powder, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, pepper, onion powder
Texture Smooth, viscous, moist Dry, powdery
Application Poured or spooned over meat Rubbed directly onto wings

Here we see garlic parmesan has a clearly different ingredient profile and texture compared to typical wet sauces like Buffalo, barbecue, or teriyaki.


Based on an analysis of its ingredients, texture, and preparation method, garlic parmesan from Wingstop can definitively be classified as a dry rub seasoning blend, not a wet sauce.

The garlic parmesan contains exclusively dried spices like garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and dry parmesan cheese. It has no liquid ingredients typical of a wet sauce.

The seasoning blend is dry and powdery, similar to a traditional dry rub. It is rubbed directly onto the cooked chicken wings to coat them, rather than being spooned or poured over the wings like a wet sauce.

While unique for incorporating parmesan cheese, the garlic parmesan seasoning aligns closely with the hallmarks of a dry rub. It provides big flavor and texture to the wings through its blend of dried garlic, herbs, spices, cheese, and other seasonings.

So for anyone wondering if that delicious garlic parmesan coating on Wingstop wings is a dry rub or wet sauce, the answer is clear: it’s a dry rub through and through. The next time you enjoy these zesty wings, you can confidently refer to the garlic parmesan flavor as a dry rub!

Frequently Asked Questions about Garlic Parmesan Dry Rubs

Is all garlic parmesan seasoning a dry rub?

No, not all garlic parmesan flavorings are dry rubs. Some restaurants or brands may make a wet garlic parmesan sauce using olive oil, butter, or other liquid ingredients. However, the garlic parmesan specifically from Wingstop contains only dry ingredients and is prepared like a dry rub.

Can you make garlic parmesan sauce from the dry rub?

Yes, you can definitely turn the dry garlic parmesan rub into a sauce by mixing it with oil, melted butter, or cream. This would transform it from a dry rub to a wet sauce.

What oil does Wingstop use with the garlic parmesan rub?

Wingstop mixes their dry garlic parmesan blend with canola oil prior to applying to the wings. The oil helps the seasoning adhere better but does not make it a wet sauce. Only a couple teaspoons of oil are added per batch.

Does the garlic parmesan have cheese in it?

Yes, one of the signature ingredients in Wingstop’s garlic parmesan dry rub is dried grated Parmesan cheese. This adds a nutty, savory punch of umami flavor.

What’s the best way to recreate the Wingstop garlic parmesan rub at home?

For a DIY version, you can blend garlic powder, dried parsley, onion powder, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Apply the seasoning blend to cooked wings tossed in a small amount of oil to emulate the Wingstop dry rub.


Wingstop’s popular garlic parmesan chicken wing flavoring qualifies as a dry rub, not a wet sauce. With its blend of dried garlic, Parmesan cheese, and other spices, it aligns closely with the preparation method and flavor profile of a classic dry rub seasoning. Next time you sink your teeth into these zesty wings, you can refer to that coating as a dry rub with confidence. While so many wet sauces and dips accompany chicken wings, Wingstop keeps it crispy, flavorful and dry with their signature garlic parmesan rub.