This Grilled Chicken Dry Rub is a flavorful blend of spices you can keep at the ready for when you need a quick chicken recipe for any grilling occasion.
If you like simple protein preparations, then you’ll also want to try this Garlic Lime Shrimp Marinade, the Best Quick Steak Marinade, or one of these excellent Chicken Marinades.
I am quite frequently a marinade gal, that’s true. I love the simplicity of letting protein sit in a delicious, flavorful liquid for 15 minutes to 8 hours and then cook the meat or seafood, tasting all the marinade ingredients with each yummy bite.
Recently, though, I discovered the beauty of dry rubs while touring a city market on one of my travels. There was a spice merchant and I couldn’t stop picking up and putting down their little jars of spices and rubs. There was a flavoring for everything you could imagine: BBQ, Jerk, Blackened, Chipotle, Sriracha Lime, Tangy Citrus, Lemon Garlic — the list went on and on.
I purchased quite a few of those rubs for myself and others. I knew they would get lots of mileage at my house. And boy, did they. Every time I needed a quick fix for a meat dish, I’d play a little eeny-meeny-miney-mo and grab one of the rubs and literally write down what I thought about it after. (The things food bloggers do for food.)
Things like: too hot, not salty enough, too sweet, needs more lime, etc. When I record these things, that helps me when making my own spice blends. And that’s exactly how I came upon this simple rub for grilled chicken. Make up a big ole batch of it and keep it in your pantry with your other spices. You’ll be so grateful you did!
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A DRY RUB AND A MARINADE?
First off, a dry rub is, well, dry. Made from a mixture of dried spices, a rub is literally rubbed on to meat before cooking. It can create a nice seared texture if you’re grilling but it also adds tons of flavor and you’ll taste more of each spice with every bite.
A marinade is made of spices plus liquid, like vinegar, olive oil, or wine. Because when you use a marinade, you leave the meat soak in the liquid and spices, it also tenderizes the meat somewhat, depending on the meat. For example, shrimp only need to marinade for 15 minutes, whereas you can leave tougher cuts of beef or pork in a marinade for up to 12 hours.
HOW LONG CAN I LEAVE A DRY RUB ON CHICKEN?
If you are using boneless, skinless chicken, you rub the spices right on the breast. If you are using chicken with skin on it, put the rub under the skin (otherwise, the spices will just come right off with the skin and not penetrate into the meat as much).
You can leave the spice rub on before cooking for about four hours. I recommend rubbing and grilling right away thought, otherwise you lose some of the flavor and the dryness of the herbs. Some might slide off, make a mess, and kind of defeats the purpose of using a dry rub in the first place.
CAN YOU MARINATE WITH A DRY RUB?
You cannot marinade with a dry rub. They are two different things. If you need your meat to tenderize, then you should use a marinade. If not, then a dry spice rub will do the trick.
HOW LONG CAN I KEEP A DRY RUB IN MY PANTRY?
Assuming you’re using semi-fresh herbs and not ones that have already been in your pantry for five years, then you’ve got about two to three years to use your newly made spice rub.
Spices don’t truly expire, though, they just lose their potency. If you pour some out in your hand and give it a little crush between two fingers and you smell nothing, then it’s probably time to toss that spice out. I recommend doing this test BEFORE making the rub.
Grilled Chicken Rub
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend - or Herbs de Provence
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Whisk together all ingredients and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- To use, rub all over chicken that has been drizzled with olive oil. Grill chicken until cooked through and serve, or slice or dice and use for other recipes or store chilled in an airtight container to use later.
I just tried this recipe today and it seriously tasted like something from a restaurant! I used it on a chicken breast and cooked it in the air fryer. Perfect!
Fantastic! my new favorite grill chicken rub
Thank you so much! 🙂
Absolutely amazing! The only change I made was I swapped Old Bay for the cayenne. Grilled the chicken breasts and they were the best I’ve ever had!
I usually do the rub process by placing the chicken and dry rub inside of a storage bag with a seal, seal the bag and move and manipulate the meat and spices all around to form a good consistent coating.
Is there an idea to add any small amount of liquid such as lime juice, vinegar, wine, etc, such as in a couple of tablespoons, inside the bag as well to give the chicken a bit of a tang, etc?
Absolutely! Lemon or lime juice would be a fantastic addition.