BBQ Chicken Rub

BBQ chicken rub is the perfect balance of subtly sweet with a little kick of spice. You'll love the flavor that this barbecue spice rub gives to your grilled chicken!

A white platter of grilled chicken drumsticks covered in bbq chicken rub.
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BBQ Chicken Rub Recipe

When I went looking for a simple BBQ chicken rub recipe, I could never find one that worked well every time.

So, I started experimenting until I came up with this fail-proof dry rub recipe! This easy recipe is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Plus, the ingredients are things we almost always have in our pantry or spice cabinet!

There are no random ingredients, like mustard powder, that no one ever has in their spice cabinet. Just the perfect mix of pantry staples to make a drool-worthy homemade rub.

You can use this dry spice rub on more than just chicken too! You can use it on pork chops, pork shoulder, grilled shrimp or even a rack of ribs. And don't forget to pair it all with your favorite barbecue sauce.

You can even sprinkle it on veggies like roasted broccoli or grilled squash.

Throw together this homemade spice blend the next time you need a knock-out BBQ chicken rub!

A close-up of grilled BBQ chicken drumsticks on a white platter.

Why You Need BBQ Chicken Rub

Grilled chicken needs some flavor! Sure, you can buy a lot of BBQ chicken rubs at the grocery store, but they always seem to be lacking one flavor profile or another.

This bbq spice rub recipe always hits the mark, and will save you a trip to the grocery store when you're ready to grill some chicken.

You can mix this together whenever you want and have deep flavors in the meat you grill every single time.

Why You'll Love this Recipe

  • You only need seven simple ingredients to make this easy, no-hassle recipe for a barbecue rubBBQ Chicken Rub.
  • Make a big batch of homemade dry rub and store it for up to 6 months to use whenever you need!
  • It is more economical to make your own spice mixes than to continually purchase store-bought rubs.
A wooden bowl of bbq chicken rub with a metal tablespoon sitting in it.

Ingredients

Grab these secret ingredients from your spice cabinet to make the best homemade BBQ rub recipe:

  • salt
  • black pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • paprika
  • chipotle powder
  • brown sugar

Keep reading for some of the substitutions you can make.

Grilled BBQ chicken on a white platter with a bowl of seasoning, garlic gloves and parsley in the background.

Substitutions and Variations

Use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika to give an extra smoky flavor to this blend of spices.

Swap brown sugar for coconut sugar if you are looking to reduce refined sugar in your diet. The flavor will be a little different but still sweet and delicious!

If you want a little extra kick, add a bit of cayenne pepper or chili powder to your BBQ chicken rub mix.

BBQ chicken rub in a wooden bowl, on a blue countertop.

How to Make BBQ Chicken Rub

It's really easy to make a BBQ chicken rub at home! Here's how I make this seasoning mix that I love to use on grilled chicken:

  1. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, chipotle powder and brown sugar into a small bowl or mason jar.
  2. Stir the ingredients until combined, or use a mason jar to shake the spices together. If the brown sugar gets clumpy, use a fork to break apart the clumps.
  3. Store any leftover seasoning blend in an airtight container or a jar with a lid in a dry, cool place for up to 6 months.

How to Use BBQ Chicken Rub

This recipe provides enough seasoning for about 3-4 pounds of chicken. If you have more meat than that, just double or triple the recipe until you have enough dry rub!

Uncooked chicken drumsticks on a plate, sprinkled with BBQ chicken seasoning.

Clean the chicken and dry each piece completely. Then, sprinkle the BBQ chicken rub generously over each side of the chicken until it is completely covered.

Seasoned chicken drumsticks being cooked on a grill.

You can use this all purpose BBQ rub on chicken drumsticks, chicken thighs, chicken wings, pork tenderloin, a rack of ribs, and so much more!

BBQ chicken rub in a wooden bowl sitting on a blue countertop.

Tips for Success

  • The seasoning should stick to the chicken, but you can use a binder. Use a basting brush to apply a thin layer of oil onto the chicken, then sprinkle the seasoning on.
  • When grilling chicken thighs or another piece of meat with skin on one side, season the skin side more than the other so that it crisps up well and is generously seasoned.
  • Make sure that no moisture mixes with your BBQ chicken rub if you intend to store it. Otherwise, it will become clumpy and will go bad quickly.
Seasoned bbq chicken drumsticks on a grill.

FAQ

How long does dry rub need to be on chicken?

You can cook chicken immediately after it has been seasoned with a good bbq rub, but it's best if it sits for a bit. Allow each piece of meat to sit with BBQ seasoning for 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours, before grilling.

Does a BBQ rub need sugar?

To create those classic BBQ flavors, a dry rub does need sugar. Brown sugar makes the best BBQ rub recipes because of it's caramely flavor! The sugar melds beautifully with whatever salts used in the recipe, and the smoky spices that create a depth of flavor.

A wooden bowl of bbq chicken rub with a metal tablespoon sitting in it.

More Spice and Marinade Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

A wooden bowl of bbq chicken rub with a metal tablespoon sitting in it.

BBQ Chicken Rub

Next time you need a simple BBQ chicken rub, grab spices from your own kitchen and make this easy recipe.
4.97 from 55 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 ½ tablespoons
Author: Madison Wetherill

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder

Instructions

  • Add the paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and chipotle powder to a bowl or mason jar.
  • Stir or shake the ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
  • Use as needed, or store for up to 6 months in a dry, cool area.

Notes

  • The seasoning should stick to the chicken, but you can use a binder. Use a basting brush to apply a thin layer of oil onto the chicken, then sprinkle the seasoning on.
  • When grilling chicken thighs or another piece of meat with skin on one side, season the skin side more than the other so that it crisps up well and is generously seasoned.
  • Make sure that no moisture mixes with your BBQ chicken rub if you intend to store it. Otherwise, it will become clumpy and will go bad quickly.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 7kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Sodium: 214mg | Sugar: 1g

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4 Comments

  1. This is the simplest BBQ rub I've found that actually still delivers on flavor. It's perfect for any meat but we love it especially on chicken and ribs. I made a big batch and keep that on hand in a jar so I don't have to pull all the spices out each time.

  2. Used this on bone-in chicken breasts that I was making in the Ninja Foodie. So flavorful - saving this recipe for sure.

  3. Threw this on some chicken quarters and grilled them. Very tasty and easy to put together! Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  4. I absolutely love this BBQ chicken rub! It adds such a delicious flavor to my grilled chicken. Oh, and since I've got some leftovers, I will experiment with other dishes too. Thanks for the tips, too! They're so helpful!