This is a super flavorful chicken rub that is so versatile and perfect for smoking or baking. It has sweet, spicy, and bold seasonings that are great whether you smoke your whole chicken in a smoker or roast it in the oven. For an easy dry rub for a whole chicken or your favorite pieces, this spice blend recipe will be the only one you will ever need again.
If you want a yummy dry rub that makes enough to cover a whole chicken, this is it. The salty smoky combination of seasonings is irresistible and you will start putting it on everything. It is tasty for oven-roasted chicken, making that crispy skin a gorgeous color. But also, when smoking any cut of chicken, this is hands down the best dry rub. Take a few minutes to mix this together and discover what a winner your chicken dinner can be.
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Making your own dry rub ensures you control the ingredients and know exactly what you are putting on your food. All of the ingredients in this recipe are gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free & it has no MSG. Many store-bought seasoning blends have hidden ingredients that may have gluten or MSG which is not great. No worries here, just quality spices and seasonings.
Homemade rubs and marinades add so much flavor without a lot of effort or calories. The dry rub I use in my Smoker Beef Short Ribs or the homemade teriyaki sauce on my chicken skewers transforms those recipes from good to extraordinary. That is what you will have with this recipe too so make a large batch and keep any leftovers in an air-tight container for all your chicken needs.
The dry spiced rub is 6 simple ingredients that all complement chicken perfectly. There is the ideal blend of sweet, savory, and salty in this recipe. This dry rub makes enough to cover up to a 6-7 pound chicken. It is also a tasty rub recipe for other poultry like turkey, quail, duck, pheasant, and other game birds.
This zesty spice blend comes together in minutes and smells amazing thanks to pungent paprika, spicy pepper, and savory poultry seasoning. There is brown sugar too to balance all that off.
- Smoked Sweet Paprika - the smoky depth that paprika has is essential for a dry rub. Also known as capsicum annuum.
- Garlic Powder - brings a bold flavor in a subtle way.
- Poultry Seasoning - the spice combination is savory with a blend of sage, thyme, & more.
- Brown Sugar - that sweet balance that brings it all together.
- Salt - is the flavor enhancer that all chicken needs.
- Black Pepper - for a spicy kick that is mild and not overpowering.
- OPTIONAL - spicy paprika or cayenne pepper for extra heat
See the recipe card for quantities.
Instructions for Simple Chicken Dry Rub
This isn't rocket science, a dry rub is basically a blend of seasonings. Simply put, you add all the spices to a bowl and mix. What I like about making my own dry rub for meats is that I can control the quantities. See the below "variations" section for ideas on how to make it low-sodium, spicier, and more.
To make the dry rub, combine all spices in a medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly. Make sure there are no clumps and it is evenly blended.
Hint: Don't wait until the last minute to make the rub. You want it to do its magic for a while. It is best applied a bit before cooking and not immediately beforehand.
Best Chicken for Smoking
I personally love smoking a whole chicken. If you go through all the time to set up the smoker and get it going, I want a wonderful reward at the end. When you smoke a chicken it comes out juicy, and tender, and the skin is crispy and amazing.
We have a large Weber smoker and it has a few racks in it. My favorite is to smoke a whole chicken also with 1-2 racks for pork baby back ribs. I get them all through my BUTCHERBOX subscription. They each take about 4 hours in the smoker so they cook beautifully all at once.
How to Apply a Dry Rub
This homemade seasoning blend is the best way to add so much flavor to the skin and meat of any chicken so you want to apply it the right way. The most important thing when applying a dry rub is to make sure the meat is dry. The best way to get crispy seasoned chicken skin is to apply this rub to skin that has no moisture on it. Do not apply any butter or oil before a dry rub. Here is how to best season your bird -
- Pat the Meat Dry- using paper towels pat all the surfaces of the chicken so there is no remaining moisture on the skin or meat.
- Add the Dry Rub - using your own clean and dried hands, sprinkle seasoning into the palms of your hands. Next, pat and "rub", hence why it is called a rub, the spices all over the surface of the chicken.
- Double Check - Press down in some places if you find it is not sticking as much as you would like. Be sure to get top, bottom, between the wings, and every nook and cranny. The image below is me just getting started.
Apply the rub for at least 30 minutes before you plan to smoke or roast the chicken. The best way to use dry rubs is to give it a bit of time to work into the skin and meat to flavor it before cooking. It is safe to add the dry rub and have the chicken be at room temperature for up to 30 minutes.
I do not recommend adding the dry rub any earlier than that and leaving it on too long. If you have it on the chicken for too long, the salt will draw out moisture from the chicken and turn the dry rub into more of a mushy paste. Once it is ready, cook your chicken as planned.
Always remember to cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165°. See more guidelines at USDA.gov.
Make this dry rub your way with just a few easy tweaks.
- Spicy - add ¼ teaspoon of spicy paprika or cayenne pepper.
- Low-Sodium - only add 1 teaspoon (½ the normal amount) - the original nutritional information is in the recipe card below to help you decide what is best for your diet.
- Lemon Pepper - instead of just regular black pepper, add lemon pepper instead for a citrus burst of flavoring.
If you love lemon pepper with your chicken, you will want to try out my super easy recipe for THE BEST LEMON PEPPER MARINADE. It is not only fantastic for poultry but also an amazing baste for roasting vegetables or using it as a salad dressing.
Storing Dry Rub
One of the best things about making a dry spice rub is that it stores very well. This recipe makes enough for a large whole chicken or about 2 dozen chicken drumsticks for comparison. You can easily double this recipe and store the extras so it is ready the next time you cook any poultry. DO NOT STORE ANY DRY RUB THAT HAS COME INTO CONTACT WITH RAW MEAT.
To store homemade spice blends, ensure they are dry without any moisture on any of the spices. Then make sure to seal them tightly in a ziplock bag, sealed jar, or air-tight container. Next, store the dry rub in a cool dry place such as your pantry or cupboard for up to 3 months.
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Best Rub for Smoked or Baked Chicken (whole chicken)
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon poultry seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or spicy paprika OPTIONAL for a SPICY version
- Combine all spices into a medium-sized bowl and mix thoroughly. Make sure there are no clumps and it is evenly blended.
- Add the rub to your whole chicken that has been patted dry. For full instructions on how best to apply the rub, see above.
- Store any leftover dry rub that has not touched raw meat. Place it in a small jar or container that is air-tight, or in a ziplock bag. Place it in a cool dry place such as your pantry or cupboard for up to 3 months.
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0.6g||1%|
|Saturated Fat 0.1g||1%|
|Total Carbohydrate 13.5g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1.9g||7%|
|Total Sugars 9.9g|
|Vitamin D 0mcg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
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