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Best BBQ Chicken Rub

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This homemade bbq chicken rub adds sweet and smoky flavor to your favorite cut of chicken. Use it as a dry brine or with your favorite bbq sauce.

a scoop of BBQ Chicken Rub from a mason jar

Why Make This

  • Pantry Staples: this homemade spice rub uses simple spices that you probably already have in your pantry.
  • Option without sugar: most bbq seasoning blends include brown sugar. This recipe does too, but was also tested with a brown sugar substitute. Rest assured that no matter the option you choose, you’ll be adding so much flavor to your barbecue chicken.
  • Works with any piece of chicken: whether you want to make chicken wings, shredded bbq chicken, chicken breasts or even a whole chicken, you can use this seasoning blend.

Ingredients Needed

Making a flavorful homemade spice rub is actually quite easy. Be sure to go to the recipe card below for the full step-by-step instructions and the ingredient amounts.

  • Smoked Paprika: this is one of my favorite ways to give chicken recipes a smoky taste without any smoke or grilling.
  • Cayenne Pepper: I personally like sweet and spicy flavors in my bbq spice mixes, but you can easily adjust the spice level by using more, less or none.
  • Brown Sugar: You can use any light brown sugar. In my kitchen, I tend to use brown sugar substitute because it tastes the same as regular brown sugar without actually having any sugar. If you want, you can pick this up in many grocers in the baking aisle.
  • Sea Salt: I use fine grain sea salt
  • Chili Powder
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Dried Thyme
Smoked Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Sea Salt, Italian Seasoning, dried thyme, brown sugar in separate small bowls

How to Make BBQ Rub for Chicken

  1. Add all of the spices to a glass mason jar.
  2. Shake or whisk until incorporated.
step-by-step instructions for how to make BBQ Chicken Rub

Top Tips & FAQs

  • Allow the bbq chicken rub to sit on the meat: for extra flavor, I recommend allowing this bbq chicken rub to sit on the meat for at least four hours. This allows all the flavors to mix with the meat. It also creates a syrup like coating that caramelizes when the meat is cooking.
  • Apply the rub all over the meat, including under and on the chicken skin. Your taste buds will thank you.
  • Adjust the cook time depending on the type of chicken: the cooking process is different depending on the piece of chicken. So, be sure to cook your meat until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  • Use two tablespoons of per pound of chicken: I’ve used this on chicken parts and a whole chicken.

Storage and Leftovers

Store your leftover barbecue rub in an airtight container for up to 6 months. For best flavor, be sure to store it in a dry, dark place.

How long should dry rub sit on chicken?

When I make things like my bbq wings or baked bbq chicken thighs, I sit the dry rub on the meat overnight (or at least 4 hours).

How do you use BBQ Rub on chicken?

Use the rub as a dry brine. I personally prefer to use about two tablespoons of bbq rub for every pound of chicken that I am cooking. For best flavor, you should allow the rub to sit on the chicken for at least 4 hours. But, I have cooked bbq chicken immediately.

coating chicken with BBQ Chicken Dry Rub

BBQ Chicken Recipes

Use this BBQ Chicken Rub as a replacement for the spices in any of these recipes:

Then, you can make a bbq chicken meal with any of these bbq chicken sides.

a scoop of BBQ Chicken Dry Rub from a jar

BBQ Chicken Dry Rub

This homemade bbq chicken rub adds sweet and smoky flavor to chicken. Use it as a dry brine or with your favorite bbq sauce.
5 from 22 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 16
Calories 18 kcal


  • 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ tbsp Black Pepper
  • 2.5 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 3 tsp Natural Ancient Sea Salt fine
  • ¾ tsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2.5 tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ cup brown sugar or brown sugar substitute


  • Add all of the spices to a glass jar.
  • Shake or whisk until incorporated.


Calories: 18kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 658mg | Potassium: 30mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 325IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.4mg
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