When making chicken recipes, you need the best chicken rub for cooking up delicious flavor in every bite. This easy recipe uses pantry staples to make a dry rub you can keep on hand any time you want to make chicken. This is hands down the best chicken rub for smoking, baking, or grilling.

Half a glass jar of chicken seasoning with fresh herbs laying next to it

Dry Rub for Chicken

Using a smoker to cook proteins is so easy and a great way to infuse lots of flavor into regular dishes. 

Chicken is one of my all-time favorite things to cook on the smoker. Whether I’m making smoked chicken breasts, wings, thighs or a whole beer can chicken, I am always in love with the flavor you get from the smoker. 

A big part of that flavor comes from the rub you use. A smoked chicken rub is a spice mixture that you massage into the meat before putting it in the smoker. This will help get flavor into every bite. It even helps get a crispy outer crust even on skinless chicken.

I’ve tried a lot of store-bought rubs and they can be great. But again and again, I turn to this homemade dry rub. It is the best chicken rub for a smoker. 

There are a lot of rub recipes for smoked chicken out there, but this is the best. Not only is it primarily sweet, but it still has a bit of savory taste to it. One of the great things about a delicious rub is that you don’t have to add anything else to make the chicken taste great.

While bbq sauce is a great addition, this homemade rub can stand on its own.

Why you’ll love this BBQ Chicken Rub

When it comes to a good poultry dry rub, you need one that has the right balance of herbs and spices. By having a good balance, you’ll be able to use it on everything from boneless skinless chicken to a whole smoked chicken. It’s important to have the right ratio of sweet, savory, and salty.

  • This homemade spice blend is very easy to make
  • You can make it with pantry staples that you probably already have on hand
  • It’s sweet and salty and has tons of flavor that pair beautifully with the smokiness. 
  • Works great on any cut of chicken, from wings to chicken legs to breasts to the whole chicken. 
  • The blend of spices is versatile and can be used when cooking chicken in different ways. You can use it as chicken seasoning whether you’re smoking, grilling, baking, or even cooking chicken in the instant pot. The smoked paprika will still give you a hint of smoke flavor.
  • It helps add flavor to anything you’re using the chicken in.

What you’ll need for Chicken Dry Rub

  • brown sugar – both light and dark brown sugar work in this recipe
  • smoked paprika – regular paprika will work as well, but this variety gives even more smoky flavor
  • salt – Coarse sea salt or coarse kosher salt works great.
  • garlic powder – for the best flavor, make sure your garlic powder is fresh and not expired
  • onion powder – for best results, make sure it’s still fresh and isn’t bland and expired
  • ground mustard – See more about this ingredient below!
  • ground black pepper – Fresh ground black pepper will give you the strongest flavor, but any ground black pepper works.

Ground mustard is probably the only one on this list that you might not have on your spice rack. Also known as dry mustard or mustard powder, it’s easy to find at your local grocery store or you can order it online.

It is made from ground mustard seed, which is the same seed used to make the mustard you know and love for burgers. In recipes, it adds a hint of mustard flavor. You can use it in everything from deviled eggs to barbecue sauce.

Glass bowl filled with measured ingredients needed to make chicken seasoning

What is the best binder for chicken rub?

Another ingredient you can add to your shopping list might be a binder — it’s totally optional though. 

When it comes to finding the best binder for chicken, you want to try to focus on neutral flavors. Avocado oil and olive oil both work well.

I don’t find a binder to be all that necessary. This chicken seasoning rub sticks to the chicken quite perfectly all on its own. 

Chicken Dry Rub Recipe variations

This is naturally a sweet rub recipe, but you can easily adjust it to make it a little spicy.

You can add chipotle powder, chili powder, or cayenne pepper to your personal preference.

How to make Chicken Rub Seasoning

(The printable recipe card with the full measurements and details can be found at the bottom of this post)

Making homemade seasonings is a simple way to get great flavor. Here’s what to do.

  1. Combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Mix until its fully combined. That’s it!
  2. I like to use a mason jar or a spice bottle. Drop in all the ingredients, then shake it up right there in the jar (like it’s a cocktail!). That gets everything nice and mixed up. 
Mixing bowl with chicken seasoning combined in it

How to use Dry Rub for Chicken

Chicken rub is great on every single part of the chicken. You can use it on a whole chicken or just on smaller cuts like chicken thighs or chicken quarters. 

If you use a binder such as avocado oil or olive oil, put a little bit on the chicken with your non-dominant hand. Use your dominant hand to rub it in until the piece is thoroughly coated in oil. (Again, using a binder isn’t really necessary!) 

Fresh herbs in front of a glass of chicken seasoning and a plate of cooked chicken wings

Whether you use a binder or not, the next step is the same. With your non-dominant hand, sprinkle some of the chicken rub over the chicken. With your dominant hand, massage the rub into the chicken until it is thoroughly distributed. 

Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before cooking it so the flavor has lots of time to seep into the meat. Longer is better. If you have a couple of hours, place it in the refrigerator. Let the chicken really soak up all that flavor before tossing it in the smoker or pellet grill. 

Be sure to smoke your chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF when measured with a digital thermometer.

If you are looking for a smoked chicken recipe to use this chicken dry rub on, you can try these smoked chicken breasts.

Chicken wing rub

Chicken wings are easy to make and they taste so good with this chicken wing rub. 

Make sure to rub the spices into every nook and cranny of the wings so they have lots of zing in every bite. 

You can also use this rub to make chicken wings in the air fryer.

Then brush the wings with your favorite wing sauces, like honey sriracha, or serve them dry with homemade buttermilk ranch

Dry rub for chicken thighs 

You can also use this rub for smoked chicken thighs. 

Treat them the same as chicken wings and make sure every inch of the chicken thigh is covered in the rub. 

Small glass jar of chicken seasoning next to a plate of cooked chicken wings and fresh herbs

Other uses for smoked chicken rub

You can use this poultry rub for dishes other than chicken. 

Feel free to try it on pork, fish or steak for a sweet and salty flavor. It goes great on pork ribs.

You can even sprinkle it on chicken skin if you like to cook those! 

It also works on vegetables like green beans or potatoes

How to store Chicken Rub Seasoning

Store your smoked chicken rub in an airtight container in a cool dry place in your pantry. 

Before you mix everything together, look for the ingredient with the soonest expiration date. That’s how long you should keep your spice rub in your pantry. 

You can write that date on a label or a piece of masking tape on the bottom. 

I love using spice jars to store my homemade seasonings. I just store them with the rest of the spices in my pantry.

Chicken Rub Recipe FAQs

How long should you leave dry rub on chicken?

The dry rub should be left on the chicken for at least 15 minutes to absorb the spice mix’s aromas and flavors. Like with a marinade, letting the chicken and spices rest longer will help intensify the flavor.

Do you oil chicken before rub?

You can, but you don’t have to. Raw chicken is sticky enough for dry rub to adhere to the meat without an oil binder. 

Do you rinse off dry rub? 

No, dry rub shouldn’t be rinsed off. It is intended to infuse and cook with the meat for the strongest taste. 

Do you rinse off dry rub?

No, you do not rinse off dry rub. You leave dry rub on the meat while cooking for the added flavor.

Can you dry rub chicken too long?

Chicken can be dry rubbed for too long. If the rub contains salt, it can cause a dehydrating effect to the meat resulting in tough, dry chicken.

Small glass jar of chicken seasoning next to a plate of chicken wings.

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Best Chicken Rub Seasoning

By: sweetlysplendid.com
5 from 38 votes
Prep 5 minutes
Total 5 minutes
Servings: 10 tablespoons
When making chicken recipes, you need the best chicken rub for cooking up delicious flavor in every bite. This easy recipe uses pantry staples to make a dry rub you can keep on hand any time you want to make smoked chicken. 



  • Combine all ingredients together and mix until fully combined.
  • Store in an airtight container.



  • Make sure spices aren’t expired
  • Storing in an airtight container makes a big difference


Serving: 1tablespoon, Calories: 28kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 0.3g, Fat: 0.3g, Saturated Fat: 0.04g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Sodium: 701mg, Potassium: 48mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 690IU, Vitamin C: 0.1mg, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Seasoning, Seasonings
Cuisine: American

Hi! I’m Kara!

Kara loves all things food and spending time with her family and dogs. She has a passion for cooking and loves making yummy, family-friendly recipes.

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