One of my tricks is to use smoked Spanish paprika in a rub or marinade, which impart a smokiness.
Servings: Makes about 1 cup
Ready time: 10 minutes
3 tablespoons coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard powder
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon hot smoked paprika
2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper
Combine the ingredients in a bowl.