How To Cook Chicken With Dry Rub


How to Cook Chicken with Dry Rub – Every man likes to grill delicious chicken, right? If you do, this is the right place for you. I will share with you some of my favorite methods that are ideal for you to cook chicken with dry rub. Here we go!

If you love crispy chicken, then this article is right up your alley. You see, the best way to make crispy chicken is to prepare it with a dry rub. Here’s everything you need to know on how to cook chicken with a dry rub!

Easy BBQ Chicken Rub Recipe: How to Store BBQ Chicken Rub

What Is a BBQ Rub?

A BBQ rub is a seasoning made with salt, sugar, and spices applied to meat before smoking or grilling. Dry BBQ rubs are a key element of Memphis-style barbecuing, which involves seasoning the meat with a spice rub before smoking and serving it as-is or with a thin sauce on the side.

Use BBQ rubs immediately before cooking as a steak seasoning or apply it the night before as a marinade for larger cuts of meat like brisket. Serve homemade BBQ rubbed meats with classic barbecue side dishes like potato salad, coleslaw, and cornbread.

3 BBQ Chicken Rub Variation

Chicken has a mild flavor that pairs well with a range of spices and flavorings. Here are a few ways to modify a classic BBQ chicken rub to suit your tastes:

  1. 1. Chinese-inspired BBQ rub: Chinese five-spice powder is a mix of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, Szechuan peppercorn, and fennel seed that pairs beautifully with poultry. Add five-spice powder to your next BBQ rub blend.
  2. 2. Italian-inspired BBQ rub: Add dried oregano, thyme, and basil to your spice mix for a hint of Italian flavor.
  3. 3. Mexican-inspired BBQ rub: Use a blend of ground chipotle chilis, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander for a spicy chicken rub ideal for smoked chicken tacos.

3 Tips for Cooking With BBQ Chicken Rub

Though you can purchase premade BBQ rubs, making a homemade spice rub allows you to customize your seasoning to fit your preferences and dietary needs. Use these tips to maximize the impact of your homemade dry rub:

  1. 1. Add an emulsifier. Before applying your dry rub, cover your chicken with an emulsifier like BBQ sauce, mustard, or olive oil. The emulsifier helps the dry rub stick to the surface of the meat better, creating a tasty caramelized crust on grilled chicken.
  2. 2. Get the timing right. Experiment with the amount of time you let the spice rub sit on the chicken. The salt in the rub will draw moisture out of the meat, which helps create a crispy skin. Allowing your dry rub to rest on the chicken overnight in the fridge can produce different results than a rub that sat for thirty to forty minutes.
  3. 3. Temper the meat. Before cooking the chicken, let it come to room temperature so that it cooks more evenly. Tempering can take fifteen minutes for a boneless chicken breast to one hour for a large whole chicken.

How to Use a BBQ Chicken Rub on Different Cuts

Here is how to use BBQ chicken rub on different cuts:

  1. 1. Chicken breast: Transform boneless chicken breasts with BBQ rub to pack the lean cut of meat with lots of flavor. Chicken breasts can dry out quickly and benefit from fast cooking methods like grilling. For skin-on chicken breasts: Add an emulsifier like mustard, followed by the rub, to the skin just before cooking. For skinless breasts: Cover the entire breast in BBQ rub just before cooking.
  2. 2. Chicken legs: Chicken legs are difficult to overcook. Cover skin-on whole legs in an emulsifier like mustard followed by the dry rub, and then smoke or grill them over indirect heat. Alternatively, separate the legs into drumsticks and thighs and bake them on two separate baking sheets. The drumsticks will finish cooking shortly before the thighs.
  3. 3. Whole chicken: With a whole chicken, there are a couple of popular options. You can brine the chicken overnight with a chicken brine or plain salt, then coat it in an emulsifier like mustard and apply the dry rub just before smoking the chicken. Alternatively, use the BBQ rub as a dry brine, covering the chicken in the rub the night before you plan to cook, and then roasting the whole chicken.

How to Store BBQ Chicken Rub

If you have leftover BBQ chicken rub spice mix or want to make a larger batch to save time in the future, store it in an airtight container in a dark, dry place for up to three months. Discard any leftover rub that has come into contact with raw chicken to avoid spreading pathogens.

Dry Rub Fo Yo Chicken

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 13 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Inactive: 12 hr
  • Cook: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings


Deselect All

2 tablespoons non-iodized salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon ground thyme

1 teaspoon rubbed sage

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 whole chickens, skin removed and separated into white and dark meat parts 

2 whole chickens, skin removed and separated into white and dark meat parts

2 cups Stonewall Barbecue Sauce, recipe follows

Stonewall Barbecue Sauce:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauceAdd to Shopping List


  1. Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl and rub into the chicken, making sure to get the rub into the nooks and crannies. Let rub sit on the chicken for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. 
  2. Preheat a grill to medium heat. 
  3. Place dark meat on the grill first because it has a longer cooking time than white meat. Grill until the internal temperature of the chicken is 180 degrees F for all parts except the breasts and is 165 degrees F for the breasts when measured with an instant-read thermometer. When chicken is almost finished grilling, baste it with a generous amount of barbecue sauce all over the meat. Save any leftover sauce for dipping.

Stonewall Barbecue Sauce:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken.

The BEST Dry Rub for Chicken

Sweet, spicy, smokey flavor is packed into the BEST Dry Rub for chicken and then only dry rub recipe you need for all your summer grilling events. Simple to make in minutes, you can whip up a huge batch to keep on hand all season long. Makes the perfect dry rub for ribs and pork, too!

Dry Rub for chicken ingredients layered in a glass jar.

BBQ Dry Rub for Chicken

Before the summer even officially arrives, we have consumed our fair share of BBQ Chicken dinners to rival what a normal human would eat the whole summer. We LOVE good BBQ here and have worked on perfecting our grilled BBQ chicken for YEARS but it all comes down to one secret…..the BEST Dry Rub for chicken ever made.

I started adding a dry rub to my chicken years ago just by chance because I was totally out of barbecue sauce.  I was desperate to add some epic flavor to my chicken and since I already love dry rub ribs I thought my rib rub would work well on my chicken, too!  And BOY was I right! 

Loud, shout from the rooftop flavor that permeated deep into the meat leaving us with tender, juicy chicken that was a total game changer.  BUT my husband loves a messy barbecue sauced chicken and so……we slathered that on our dry rub chicken, too.

It’s not a bad thing….trust me, just do it.

How to Make a Dry Rub for Chicken, Ribs or Pork

Whipping up a big batch of dry rub for chicken is super simple to do.  Just add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Store your dry rub recipe for chicken in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Piles of spices on a marble board.

What ingredients are in a Dry Rub?

The basic flavor notes you want to hit in a homemade dry rub recipe are SWEET, SAVORY and SPICE. To balance everything out, you want a ratio of one part sugar to one part everything else you want to include. If you’re adverse to sugar, you can use a sugar substitute but be sure to use half the substitute called for as sugar.

For this Chicken Dry Rub recipe, I include:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Thyme
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

You can double or triple the recipe to make this in a big batch AND you can totally play with the ingredients to make this your very own award winning dry rub recipe. Seriously, rub this on your ribs….grill them up….enter a bbq contest….I bet you’ll win.

Chicken thighs on a baking sheet with dry rub.

How long can you leave a dry rub on chicken?

Dry rubs work better with time but you can leave the dry rub on chicken for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 24 hours.  The flavor will deepen and become more intense the longer you leave it on the chicken so be aware of the seasonings you’re using if you’re sensitive to spice.

Essentially, a dry rub is like a dry marinade or dry brine process. So, by leaving the rub on your chicken for a few hours you are, basically, marinading the chicken.

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