3 Best Smoked Chicken Rub Recipes – Flavors Guaranteed to Delight

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.

A smoked chicken with rub, on parchment paper on a chopping board ready for carving
© Brent Hofacker – stock.adobe.com

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.

In this article, we’re going to talk about what a rub is, how to use a rub when cooking chicken, as well as look at some of the best smoked chicken rub recipes we’ve tried and adore…and are sure you will too.

What is a Rub?

A rub is simply a spice and herb mixture added to the surface of food before it’s cooked.

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.

How to Rub Chicken

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.

For a video showing how to apply a dry rub to chicken, please see below:

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

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 60’s, 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.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TBSP dried crushed parsley
  • 2 TBSP dried crushed sage
  • 1 TBSP dried crushed rosemary
  • 1 TBSP dried crushed thyme
  • 1 TBSP dried crushed oregano
  • 1 TBSP dried crushed basil
  • 1 TBSP dried crushed bay leaf
  • 1 TBSP ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP sugar

Instructions:

  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.

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.

Ingredients:

  • 2 TSP paprika
  • 1 TSP chili powder
  • 1 TSP ground cumin
  • 1 TSP ground thyme
  • 3/4 TSP salt
  • 1/2 TSP garlic powder
  • 1/2 TSP ground pepper

For the Glaze:

  • 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • 1 TBSP honey

Instructions:

  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.

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.

According to Derrick Riches of TheSpruceEats.com, this is Walter Jetton’s dry rub recipe for poultry.

Ingredients:

  • 6 TBSP salt
  • 3 TBSP black pepper
  • 2 TBSP MSG (optional)
  • 2 TBSP garlic powder
  • Ground bay leaves
  • 2 TBSP dry mustard
  • 1 TBSP paprika

Instructions:

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

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 20 commercial 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.

Mark Jenner

Hi. I'm Mark Jenner, owner and creator of FoodFireFriends.com. I grill and smoke food outdoors at least three days a week on a wide range of equipment, have done so for years, and love nothing more than cooking good food, over live fire, enjoying it with friends. The aim of this site is to educate and help others to do the same.

Leave a Comment