Basic BBQ Chicken Rub

Basic BBQ Chicken Rub

Who doesn’t love the sweet tangy taste of Barbecued Chicken? But have you ever wondered how those BBQ joints (as my NYC cousin calls them) make such delicious chicken?  I used to think it was all in the sauce which they slather on quite generously.  But oh how wrong I was!  I tried slathering different brands of barbecue sauces on my grilling chicken; all I got was burned sauce dripping off tasteless chicken!  Restaurant worthy finger licking good barbecued chicken requires 2 things:  BBQ Chicken Rub and really good barbecue sauce.

So really it all begins with a basic BBQ Chicken Rub; by the way in case you were wondering barbecued brisket, ribs, and other meats require a rub too; but I use a slightly different version with different spices.  I generally make a large batch of BBQ Chicken Rub, meaning a batch large enough to fill the 8 oz. mason jar I store it in.  This way I always have some handy, at least that’s the plan, whenever we feel like making barbecued chicken.

You will use about 1/4 of the jar each time you want to grill about 8-9 pieces of chicken.  I know it sounds like a lot, but trust me use the correct amount for some amazing chicken.  To use it you will need to drizzle 2 Tbs. of Olive Oil on the chicken ( I use boneless skinless chicken thighs, but you can use whatever parts you want although it’s best to at least remove the skin before seasoning.)  Then massage the BBQ Chicken Rub on each piece of chicken, be sure you get all sides.  Place the chicken in ziplock bag and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Or better still leave it in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours.  Remember the longer it rests the more flavoring it will absorb.

If you’ve had the chicken marinating in the fridge for longer than 30 minutes let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes to bring it to room temperature.  Then grill* the chicken until just about 2 minutes before it’s full cooked then brush on barbecue sauce (homemade or your favorite brand) and cook for 1 minute, flip over, brush more sauce on and cook for another minute or until cooked.*  Read Tips on how to Grill Barbecued Chicken below.

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Here’s my recipe for Basic BBQ Chicken Rub.  You can also use it on Turkey and other poultry you want to grill.


3 Tbs. Paprika

3 Tbs.  Ground Sea Salt

2 1/2 Tbs. Chili Powder

2 1/2 Tbs. Onion Powder

3 Tbs. Garlic Powder

2 1/2 Tbs. Dark Brown Sugar

2 Tsp. Chipotle Chili Powder

2 Tsp. Ground Thyme

2 Tsp.  Ground Black Pepper


Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly.

Transfer to 8 Oz. Mason Jar and store tightly covered in a dry place.

You can store it in the pantry for about 3 months.  Store in the freezer if you want to keep it fresh longer.


* Tips for Grilling Barbecued Chicken

Spray grill with oil and preheat to high heat

Place chicken on the hot grill and cook uncovered for 5 minutes

Flip chicken over and cook another 5 minutes

Cover the grill and turn heat to low to maintain a temperature of about 325º with lid closed

Cook 5 minutes then flip chicken over and cook another 5 minutes with closed lid

Uncover the chicken and baste with barbecue sauce (homemade or your favorite brand)

Cook uncovered for 1 minute then flip chicken over and baste again

Cook uncovered another minute or until chicken temperature registers 165-180º when you insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken (don’t touch the bone)

If chicken is still undone continue to grill with lid down until it reaches the correct temperature.  If you are doing this baste the chicken with barbecue sauce every 3 minutes until done.

Remove cooked chicken from grill and place in a pot.

Baste with more barbecue sauce and cover pot.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  You can serve with a side of barbecue sauce.

Basic BBQ Chicken Rub
Print Recipe
Basic BBQ Chicken Rub
Print Recipe
  1. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl anc combine thoroughly
  2. Transfer to an 8 Oz. Mason Jar and cover with a tight lid, store in a dry place
Recipe Notes

This rub will store tightly covered in the pantry for about 3 months.  If you want to store it longer place it in the freezer where it can be stored for 6 months.

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