Best dry rub for smoked chicken

Crafted from simple pantry essentials, this dry rub boasts a delightful blend of savory, sweet, and spicy notes. Versatile and ideal for a variety of chicken cuts — from whole chicken to wings, breasts, thighs, quarters, and legs — it’s your go-to BBQ rub that elevates the flavor profile.

In my culinary book, a barbecue rub should strike the perfect balance of flavors, and this one does just that. The subtle heat enhances the meat’s natural taste, making it a star player whether you’re firing up a stick burner, or pellet grill, or working your magic in the trusty home oven.

Friendly heads up: This post might contain affiliate links, which means the site may earn a commission.

Dry rub ingredients in a bowl

Ingredients for our homemade dry rub recipe:

Smoked paprika: contributes depth and complexity to the dry rub. Its smoky undertones complement the other spices in the rub, creating a well-rounded and flavorful profile.

Brown sugar: When exposed to heat during smoking, the sugar in the rub caramelizes, forming a flavorful crust on the chicken known as the bark. This caramelization adds depth of flavor and contributes to the appealing color and texture of the smoked chicken.

Salt and black pepper: Salt is a natural flavor enhancer that brings out the inherent taste of the chicken. It helps balance the overall flavor profile of the rub, ensuring that the other spices and seasonings meld together harmoniously. Black pepper adds a pungent and slightly spicy kick, contributing depth and complexity to the flavor.

Onion and garlic powder: If the rub contains sweet elements, such as brown sugar, onion, and garlic powders can help balance the sweetness. Their savory notes provide a counterpoint to the sweet components, creating a well-rounded flavor profile.

Chili powder: Beyond just heat, chili powder contributes depth and complexity to the rub. It often contains a blend of spices such as ground chili peppers, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano, creating a multi-dimensional flavor that enriches the taste of the chicken.

Oregano and thyme: If your dry rub contains sweet and spicy elements, oregano and thyme can contribute to the overall balance. Their savory qualities can counteract excessive sweetness and harmonize with spicier components, ensuring a well-rounded flavor profile.

Optional ingredient: Mustard powder contributes a mild, tangy flavor to the dry rub. This adds a subtle zing to the overall taste of the smoked chicken, enhancing its flavor profile.

Follow these simple steps to make the most of your BBQ chicken rub:

  1. Mixing the Rub: In a small bowl, carefully measure out all the ingredients listed for your BBQ chicken rub. Mix them thoroughly to ensure an even distribution of flavors. Once mixed, transfer the rub to an airtight container for storage until you’re ready to use it.
  2. Preparing the Chicken: Before applying the rub, pat the entire chicken dry with paper towels. This helps the rub adhere better to the surface. For optimal results, coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil. The olive oil acts as a binder, helping the rub stick and creating a flavorful crust during the cooking process.
  3. Applying the Rub: Evenly and generously sprinkle your delicious rub over the entire exterior of the chicken. Ensure that the rub covers the bird evenly for a well-balanced flavor. The combination of spices and seasonings will enhance the taste and appearance of the final dish.
  4. Cooking Instructions: Prepare your preferred cooking equipment (smoker, grill, or oven). Cook the chicken until a digital thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 165°F (74°C). This ensures that the chicken is cooked through and safe to eat.

By following these steps, you’ll infuse your chicken with the flavorful magic of the BBQ rub, creating a deliciously seasoned and perfectly cooked dish. Enjoy your barbecue masterpiece!

When you use this tasty rub for your Pit Barrel Cooker dry-rubbed chicken, get ready for a burst of deliciousness and an aroma that’ll have your taste buds dancing. The mix of spices and seasonings, especially when they mingle in the Pit Barrel Cooker, is like a symphony of flavors creating a mouthwatering, smoky sensation. Your taste buds are in for a treat!

Top, Dry rub ingredients in a bowl, Bottom finished dry rub in a bowl. This is a pin for pinterest.

If you loved this BBQ chicken rub recipe and think your friends would enjoy it too, don’t hesitate to share the goodness. Spread the love, share the recipe, and let the barbecue adventures begin!

Finished BBQ rub in a bowl.

Dry rub for smoked chicken

This savory, sweet, and spicy dry rub is made with pantry staples. The BBQ rub works great on whole chicken, chicken breasts, chicken wings, chicken thighs, quarters, and legs.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Course: condiment
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ rub
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 22kcal
Author: James Strange


  • 2 Tablespoons Smoked paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons Granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Oregano Dried
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme Dried
  • 1 teaspoon Chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper


  • Measure out all of the ingredients into a small bowl.
    2 Tablespoons Smoked paprika, 1 Tablespoon Brown sugar, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Onion powder, 2 teaspoons Granulated garlic, 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon Oregano, 1 teaspoon Thyme, 1 teaspoon Chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
  • Mix well to combine.
  • Store in an airtight container until ready to use.


Calories: 22kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.4g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 396mg | Potassium: 91mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1406IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @james_strange_eats or tag #james_strange_eats
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

5 stars
This makes chicken so incredibly flavorful! Love this easy and delicious idea.

5 stars
I love making my own seasoning and rubs. A great recipe and so easy and cheap to make. Cheers

5 stars
This dry rub is amazing! I’ve been putting it on everything!

5 stars
Yeah! Finally found a rub without cumin. Hubby is a cumin hater. This worked great on oven roasted chicken. Thanks.

5 stars
Love this mixture. I used it on roasted potatoes and they were amazing!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x