Sweet, spicy, smokey flavor is packed into the BEST Dry Rub for chicken and then only dry rub recipe you need for all your summer grilling events. Simple to make in minutes, you can whip up a huge batch to keep on hand all season long. Makes the perfect dry rub for ribs and pork, too!

Dry Rub for chicken ingredients layered in a glass jar.

BBQ Dry Rub

Before the summer even officially arrives, we have consumed our fair share of BBQ Chicken dinners to rival what a normal human would eat the whole summer. We LOVE good BBQ here and have worked on perfecting our grilled BBQ chicken for YEARS but it all comes down to one secret…..the BEST Dry Rub for chicken ever made.

I started adding a dry rub to my chicken years ago just by chance because I was totally out of barbecue sauce. I was desperate to add some epic flavor to my chicken and since I already love dry rub ribs I thought my rib rub would work well on my chicken, too! And BOY was I right! 

Loud, shout from the rooftop flavor that permeated deep into the meat leaving us with tender, juicy chicken that was a total game changer. BUT my husband loves a messy barbecue sauced chicken and so……we slathered that on our dry rub chicken, too.

It’s not a bad thing….trust me, just do it.

Overhead shot of dry rub for chicken in a glass jar.

How to Make a Dry Rub for Chicken, Ribs or Pork

Whipping up a big batch of dry rub for chicken is super simple to do. Just add all the ingredients to a bowl and whisk to combine. Store your dry rub recipe for chicken in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Piles of spices on a marble board.

What ingredients are in a Dry Rub?

The basic flavor notes you want to hit in a homemade dry rub recipe are SWEET, SAVORY and SPICE. To balance everything out, you want a ratio of one part sugar to one part everything else you want to include. If you’re adverse to sugar, you can use a sugar substitute but be sure to use half the substitute called for as sugar.

For this Chicken Dry Rub recipe, I include:

  • Brown Sugar
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Thyme
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Pepper

You can double or triple the recipe to make this in a big batch AND you can totally play with the ingredients to make this your very own award winning dry rub recipe. Seriously, rub this on your ribs….grill them up….enter a bbq contest….I bet you’ll win.

Chicken thighs on a baking sheet with dry rub.

How long can you leave a dry rub on chicken?

Dry rubs work better with time but you can leave the dry rub on chicken for as little as 30 minutes or as long as 24 hours. The flavor will deepen and become more intense the longer you leave it on the chicken so be aware of the seasonings you’re using if you’re sensitive to spice.

Essentially, a dry rub is like a dry marinade or dry brine process. So, by leaving the rub on your chicken for a few hours you are, basically, marinading the chicken.

A chicken breast is sliced and presented next to a small bowl of extra BBQ sauce.

This easy Dry Rub recipe is so incredibly versatile, too. You don’t have to use it just for grilling Barbecue chicken. We love to use it to make a Rotisserie style chicken in the oven and it’s fantastic on this Oven Baked Chicken Breast.

We also love it on these BBQ Ribs and this Spicy BBQ Chicken recipe!

BBQ sauce is being brushed onto a chicken breast.

Want a little sauce to throw on your Dry Rub Chicken? Try these easy recipes:

Honey Chipotle Barbecue Sauce recipe in a glass jar with a white spoon dipped into it. From TheSuburbanSoapbox.com

Favorite Side Dishes for BBQ Chicken

Close up shot of Chopped Greek Pasta Salad in a blue and white bowl with a blue background from TheSuburbansoapbox.com

Be sure to follow us over on Instagram for even MORE RECIPE inspiration!

Overhead shot of dry rub for chicken in a glass jar.

Get the Recipe: The BEST Dry Rub for Chicken Recipe

Super easy smokey, sweet dry rub for chicken, ribs and pork!
4.50 from 2 votes


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper


  • 1 whisk


  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  • Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months or use immediately on ribs, chicken or pork.


Can be made up to three months in advance and stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
Calories: 83kcal, Carbohydrates: 21g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 218mg, Potassium: 79mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 18g, Vitamin A: 385IU, Vitamin C: 0.4mg, Calcium: 32mg, Iron: 1mg