This smoked chicken BBQ rub recipe will add a beautiful woody and smokey flavor to your meat, while adding a subtle layer of spice.
There are not many things in life that are tastier than smoked chicken. While a lot of meat benefits from being cooked low and slow, smoked chicken is something else. The taste is unlike anything else when it has spent hours in a smoker, being cooked over flavored wood chips and prepared with a good dry rub and marinade.
The key to a good smoked chicken lies in its preparation, so it’s important to get the rub just right. Smoking chicken is a great means of cooking, but using a good rub will take it to a whole new level beyond that.
What is a Dry Rub?
A good dry rub is essentially just a blend of spices and herbs, mixed together and rubbed onto the surface of a chosen piece of meat before being cooked.
While in theory any cut of meat can have a rub applied to it, it’s especially great with ‘low and slow’ grilling and smoking because the long cooking times help the spices and herbs dissolve into the meat. This is especially great with chicken because it’s the kind of meat that is much more accommodating to flavors, almost serving as a blank canvas for added flavors and seasoning.
How to Rub Chicken
Like you would with any meat, it’s important to handle raw chicken carefully. Always wash your hands before and immediately after handling it. If you’re using a jar lid for example, don’t touch the lid until you have washed your hands. This will help ensure that any unused rub mix isn’t contaminated should the lid or inside of the jar come into contact with your bare hands.
I like to be as liberal as possible when I use a dry rub. Try to cover the entire meat chicken surface, including under the skin (if your meat is skin-on).
Brush away any excess powder, and move it to your refrigerator. My rule for sitting time is at least two hours, although if I have time on my side, I try to leave meat overnight. This sitting period allows the salt time to bring out some of the moisture in the chicken, which helps the other rub ingredients dissolve into the flesh of the meat. The longer you allow it to do this, the more flavor will lock into the chicken.
Smoked BBQ Chicken Rub Recipe
Now onto the good stuff. One of the great things about dry recipes is that there’s so much room for experimentation, and as you make more of them you’ll soon realize what does and doesn’t work for you.
However, the important thing is to find a recipe that improves the taste of your meat without completely overpowering it. I love cayenne pepper as much as the next person, but it’ll ruin my chicken if I go in too hard with it.
My rub recipe here gets that balance just right. It has a subtle spicy flavor but still allows the woody, smokey tastes from the chicken to come through.
This recipe should be enough for one whole chicken, or alternatively four regular chicken breast pieces.
Prefer grilling your meat? This recipe will work just as well on chicken for your grill.
Smoked Chicken Rub [Easy BBQ Dry Rub Seasoning]
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients thoroughly until it has achieved a fairly consistent mix
- Apply to chicken. Rub thoroughly over all surfaces of the meat. If your chicken still has skin on it then rub the mix under the skin well too.
- Place chicken in the refrigerator and leave for at least 2 hours or overnight
- When ready, remove from refrigerator and place straight on the grill or in your smoker