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Tired of spending a lot of money on spice rubs that are overly salty and sweet?  This flavorful BBQ Chicken Rub will save you money using spices that you already have on hand., and it’s easily customizable to suit your tastes!

bbq chicken rub in bowl with spoon in the middle

**This post was originally published in April 2014.  The recipe, photos and text have been updated.

We’re heading into the last few weeks of summer, and while I’m ready for fall food, I’m in grilling mode until at least after Labor Day.

I make grilled chicken weekly, and this BBQ Chicken Rub is a nice way to change things up.  Sure, I love saucy BBQ Chicken, but a dry rub is so much more low maintenance!

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • This is a great all purpose rub with the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavor.  It works well with chicken, as well as pork, beef and even grilled vegetables
  • It’s the easiest way to get bbq flavor without brushing on messy bbq sauce at just the right time.
  • This homemade spice rub is much more cost effective than store bought brands, and it’s made with spices that you already have in your pantry.
  • You control the sodium and sweetness, and can customize it to suit your tastes.

Recipe Ingredients

The glory of this bbq rub recipe is that it’s made with common ingredients that you already have on hand.  There’s nothing fancy, but together the spices create a wonderful sweet and savory rub that works well with almost anything you are grilling or smoking.

BBQ chicken rub ingredients in bowl

Ingredient notes

  • Brown sugar.  Sugar is the main ingredient in most bbq rubs.  This version contains just enough to add sweetness that’s not overpowering.
  • Cayenne pepper.  My family is pretty spice intolerant, so I included a scant 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  If you like things spicy add more!
  • Salt.  I used kosher salt because it has less sodium than regular table salt.

How to make this recipe

This bbq chicken rub is extremely easy to make and takes less than 5 minutes!

Prepare the rub:

BBQ chicken rub before and after blending

1. Place all ingredients into a medium bowl.

2. Whisk well to combine, breaking up any clumps.

Rub the chicken:

BBQ rubbed chicken breast before and after cooking

3. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and coat generously with the rub, rubbing the seasoning into the meat.  Coat the meat with a bit of olive oil before adding the rub to help it adhere better if desired.

4. Let stand for one hour at room temperature and grill, smoke or bake!

Customize this recipe

This is a very versatile rub, so it’s easy to add a variety of herbs and spices to change things up.

  • Add herbs such as thyme, oregano or rosemary.
  • Add citrus zest such as orange, lemon or lime.
  • Increase the amount of garlic powder for more garlic flavor.
  • Add warm spices such as cumin or coriander for more depth of flavor.
  • Increase the amount of cayenne pepper if you love spiciness!

Grilled chicken breast on white plate

FAQs

Why use a dry rub?

A rub is a great way to add flavor to meat or vegetables.  It’s so much easier and less messy than a marinade or bbq sauce!

How long should dry rub sit on chicken?

Rub the chicken generously and let stand at room temperature for a minimum of one hour.

There’s no need to leave the rub on for hours or overnight as it is not a dry brine.  

How long do BBQ rubs last?

Store bbq chicken rub in an air tight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.

Can I use dry rub and BBQ sauce?

Dry rub and bbq sauce may both be used.  Simply brush on the sauce during the last 5-10 minutes to keep it from burning.

Use my homemade bourbon bbq sauce or your favorite store bought brand.

Recipe Notes

  • Pro tip:  When using skin-on chicken breast, add the seasoning underneath the skin as well.
  • Store unused rub in an air tight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
  • Coat the meat lightly with olive oil before seasoning to help the rub adhere to the meat if desired.
  • This recipe is a great all purpose seasoning that works well with beef, pork, vegetables, corn on the cob, or anything that you are grilling or smoking.
  • This rub contains sugar, so be careful when grilling over high heat as the sugar can burn.  Sear on both sides and cook over indirect heat for the remaining of the cooking time to avoid burning.

Slice of grilled chicken with bbq rub on fork

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and rating below, or snap a photo and tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

bbq chicken rub in bowl before blending

BBQ Chicken Rub Recipe

BBQ Chicken Rub is sweet, savory and made with spices you already have on hand! It's a great all purpose rub for chicken, pork or beef!
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions 

  • Place the smoked paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.
  • Whisk the spices together well, breaking up any clumps.
    BBQ chicken rub before and after blending
  • Generously coat the chicken with the rub, rubbing it into the meat. Pro tip: If using skin on chicken breast, rub the seasoning underneath the skin as well.
  • Let stand for a minimum of one hour at room temperature, then grill. Enjoy!
    BBQ rubbed chicken breast before and after cooking

Notes

  • Pro tip:  When using skin-on chicken breast, add the seasoning underneath the skin as well.
  • Store unused rub in an air tight container in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.
  • Coat the meat lightly with olive oil before seasoning to help the rub adhere to the meat if desired.
  • This recipe is a great all purpose seasoning that works well with beef, pork, vegetables, corn on the cob, or anything that you are grilling or smoking.
  • This rub contains sugar, so be careful when grilling over high heat as the sugar can burn.  Sear on both sides and cook over indirect heat for the remaining of the cooking time to avoid burning.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 25kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 354mg, Potassium: 73mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1354IU, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Tried this recipe?Mention @flavorthemoments or tag #flavorthemoments!

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