3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (2024)

3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (1)

In this article, we’re going to give you three of the best smoked chicken rub recipes we’ve tried and adore…and are sure you will too.

We also talk about what a rub is, and how to use a rub when cooking chicken.

Smoked chicken prepared on the barbecue is something extraordinary. When you’ve cooked it just right, with smoky wood flavor throughout, with a flavorful chicken rub and crispy skin, it is delicious.

Now, no matter if preparing a whole chicken, or just smaller pieces, you need to start with the right seasonings to truly max out on the flavor before smoking your bird.

Contents (Jump to Topic)

  • 1 What is a Rub?
  • 2 How to Rub Chicken
  • 3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipe — 3 of the Best on the Web
    • 3.2 Spice-Rubbed Grilled Chicken
    • 3.3 Walter Jetton’s Dry Poultry Seasoning
  • 4 Pair With the Right Smoking Wood for the Best Results
  • 5 Final Word

What is a Rub?

3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (2)

A rub is simply a spice and herb mixture added to the surface of food before it’s cooked. Most BBQ rubs consist of different salts, different types of peppercorn, types of chili peppers, and then an array of other spices and herbs.

This is obviously important when talking about chicken because it’s one of those meats that can be somewhat of a blank canvas.

By adding a rub, we’re able to take the flavor to ever higher levels.

You can marinate chicken to get flavor deep into the meat, but this takes time and a dry rub is a great alternative for last minute prep.

How to Rub Chicken

3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (3)

No matter what cut of chicken you’re cooking, or which rub you’ve decided to use, you want to be careful around raw chicken.

Never touch raw chicken and then place your hand into a jar of rub. Instead, spoon out only the rub you plan to use, or store your rub in a shaker jar and shake out what you need. This will avoid contaminating any rub saved for future use, by your hands that have touched raw chicken.

It’s recommended to use just enough rub so that it’s evenly coated on your chicken. If your chicken still has the skin on, don’t be afraid to work your fingers in under the skin and get some rub under there as well. If you need a guideline, ½ TBSP is enough to rub one whole medium chicken.

After you have rubbed your chicken, let it sit in your refrigerator for at least an hour. This gives the salt in your rub a chance to make the chicken sweat and help dissolve the rubs before the moisture is reabsorbed back into the chicken, taking the flavor with it.

Also See

  • How long to grill chicken breast
  • How long does it take to defrost chicken
  • Make your chicken crispy

Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipe — 3 of the Best on the Web

3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (4)

The sky is the limit when it comes to flavors that go well with chicken.

I’m partial to flavors that are either savory or spicy, but your tastes may differ. Below are some great tried, tested, and true rub recipes that in our opinion, you should definitely check out!

Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend & Baste

For anyone that remembers the 60s, Simon & Garfunkel were a folk duo who recorded many albums. One was the aptly named “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme”, also sung by the chorus of the first track on the album — Scarborough Fair/Canticle.

Meathead from AmazingRibs.com used these four spices as the main ingredients to this smoked chicken rub recipe.

The flavors in this rub are obviously very herby (for lack of a better word), and will pair excellently with smoked chicken.

Note: there is no salt in this particular rub. If you’ve taken the time to brine your chicken you can apply the rub as-is. If you’ve not brined your chicken, simply season with ½ TSP of kosher salt per-pound of chicken before applying the rest of the rub.


  • Dried crushed parsley
  • Dried crushed sage
  • Dried crushed rosemary
  • Dried crushed thyme
  • Dried crushed oregano
  • Dried crushed basil
  • Dried crushed bay leaf
  • Ground black pepper
  • Sugar


  1. Measure your ingredients and place them into a blender. Pulse the ingredients until it is a fine powder.
  2. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

For ingredient quantities and full instructions, please check out Meatheads recipe here.

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Chicken

We have Dara Michalski from Cookin’ Canuck to thank for this smoked chicken rub recipe. The brightness from the paprika and chili powder will give your chicken a great red color that will turn a dark shade of reddish brown when cooked.

Combining the savory flavors found in the rub with a sweet glaze (also found in the recipe) will help create delicious sweet and spicy chicken. It should also be noted that Dara recommends grilling chicken thighs with this recipe. While we agree that would be great, we think this rub and glaze would go great with smoked chicken.


  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Ground cumin
  • Ground thyme
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground pepper

For the Glaze:

  • Red wine vinegar
  • Honey


  1. Measure your spices and stir to combine.
  2. Place them into an airtight container until ready to
  3. Regardless if grilling or smoking your chicken, prepare the glaze just before your chicken is ready to come off the grill. Prepare glaze by whisking the vinegar and honey in a small bowl and brushing it onto the chicken.

You can find ingredient quantities and full instructions to make it by clicking here.

Walter Jetton’s Dry Poultry Seasoning

Walter Jetton ran a successful barbecue catering company in Fort Worth, Texas, just a stone’s throw from President Lyndon Johnson’s ranch.

After LBJ became President, Walter became somewhat of a celebrity as the first Pitmaster to prepare an official Presidential state dinner barbecue.


  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • MSG (optional)
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground bay leaves
  • Dry mustard
  • Paprika


  1. Measure your spices and stir to combine.
  2. Place them into an airtight container until ready to

For ingredient quantities and full instructions, please check out Walter Jetton’s dry rub recipe for poultry.

Pair With the Right Smoking Wood for the Best Results

You now have three choices for the best rubs to use, but the layering of flavors shouldn’t stop there! Add a hint of smoke to ramp up the flavor even more.

Smoked chicken is tasty, but chicken is also somewhat delicate, so you don’t want to overpower it with strong flavored smoke, or it can taste like you’re eating an ashtray!

Pick a flavor from our guide to the best wood for smoking chicken, and then you can’t go wrong!

Final Word

We hope you enjoyed this article and these recipes!

For more excellent ideas, don’t forget to check out our article on how to make your own dry rubs at home. Or if you’d prefer something a little less hands on, check out our list of our favorite and best BBQ rubs for every type of meat, including poultry.

What do you think of these rubs? Would you use any of them on your next smoked chicken? Do you have your own rub you’d like to tell us about?

Leave us a comment below and tell us all about it.

3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes — Flavors Guaranteed to Delight (2024)


How long to let dry rub sit on chicken? ›

Let rub sit on the chicken for up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Preheat a grill to medium heat. Place dark meat on the grill first because it has a longer cooking time than white meat.

Can you leave rub on chicken overnight? ›

For the most flavor, refrigerate the chicken with the dry rub overnight. This will allow the spices and salt to permeate into the meat.

How long to smoke a chicken at 225? ›

How Long to Smoke a Whole Chicken. Using an approximately 4lb whole chicken (fully thawed and cavity empty) and smoking at 225 degrees F. it will take approximately 3.5 – 4.5 hours to smoked a whole chicken. That being said the best way to track when your bird is done is to keep track of the internal temp.

What happens if you leave dry rub on too long? ›

Don't keep the ribs coated for more than 12 hours. As we stated earlier, most dry rubs contain salt, which has a dehydrating effect, so prolonging the seasoning may work against you if you keep it on too long.

Can you leave dry rub on too long? ›

You can even leave the dry rub on overnight, but keep in mind that the salt content will begin to dry out the meat if left on for too long. If you're in a hurry, you can hit the grill immediately after applying the rub.

Is it better to marinate or dry rub? ›

While a dry rub adds flavour and crust to your protein, a marinade adds taste and tenderness to the meat. This happens because of the liquid's ability to move within the cell walls of the protein and break them down while delivering taste to the meat.

Which is better, dry rub or marinade? ›

Rubs are designated to flavor meat. That's it. We like marinades a lot for steaks, but when we're forced to pick between a marinade and a rub, we usually go with a rub. One of the main reasons we like rubs is because they create a savory crust on the meat, which marinades don't do.

What is the best smoke flavor for chicken? ›

Many wood flavors work well with smoking chicken. If you want robust flavors, hickory and oak are ideal. Maple is enchantingly sweet like wood such as applewood, peachwood, and cherrywood have sweet and fruity undertones that are highly desirable.

Can I eat smoked chicken everyday? ›

The science is clear: Smoked meat should be a very occasional indulgence, if at all. Culbertson shares a few tips for making the healthiest choices possible for those times when you can't resist the siren song of the smoker.

What can I use as a binder for smoked chicken? ›

Binders in barbecue are used for adhering dry rub to meat. Often folks will call it a "smear" or "slather." One of the most common binders in barbecue is mustard. However, not many people use this for chicken (myself included). Rather, I will almost always use water, cooking oil, hot sauce, or pickle juice.

What makes smoked chicken so delicious? ›

Research shows that smoking meat breaks down the collagen, which is why it gets so tender and delicious. For added flavor, you can brine the chicken or add seasoning.

Is it better to smoke a chicken at 225 or 250? ›

Smoker temps for smoked chicken

Cook your chicken at 225–250°F (107–121°C) for an hour to imbue the meat with smoky goodness. The slow smoking not only gives us flavor, but it also cooks the meat quite gently for that first hour. Once that's done, though, it's time to crank up the heat.

What is the best wood to smoke chicken with? ›

When it comes to choosing a good smoking wood for chicken, most people tend to lean toward wood from fruit trees (Apple and Cherry are excellent choices). Some other woods that pair well with and complement smoked chicken are: Maple: Contributes a sweeter flavor. Hickory: The favored species in the southern states.

Should I let dry rub sit on chicken? ›

Chicken can be cooked immediately after applying the dry rub. But to maximize flavor, refrigerate after applying the rub for at least one hour and up to 12 hours before cooking. (Any longer and the salt in the rub can cause a mushy texture.)

How long should you let chicken rest after seasoning? ›

Whip up a yogurt- or olive oil-based marinade with your favorite spices, some minced garlic, ginger, chiles, and a squeeze of lemon or drizzle of vinegar. Letting your chicken sit in a marinade like this for at least 15 minutes can make a huge difference — but if you can let it go for 24 hours, that's even better.

How do I make sure my chicken seasoning stays on? ›

A quicker way to flavor the chicken is to rub the chicken down with olive oil and then seasoning it with whatever spices or seasoning blends you have picked. The olive oil will help your seasonings stay on the chicken while simultaneously preventing your chicken from sticking to the grill.


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