For your next barbecue, enhance the taste of grilled chicken using this simple dry rub seasoning mix. Instantly add flavor with no marinating required.
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Make a quick and healthy meal on the barbecue. The spice rub I use is simple to prepare and doesn’t require extra time like my chicken marinade. For this recipe, I use a mixture of bold and colorful spices like paprika, cumin, garlic, onion, coriander, salt, and black pepper to enhance the taste of the poultry.
Any leftover seasoning mix can be stored and saved for later use. Try it on chicken thighs, drumsticks, and wings. It’s a versatile blend that you can use on different meat, seafood, or vegetable protein sources to make them more exciting. So, fire up the grill because tender and juicy barbecued chicken is just minutes away!
The best seasoning for grilled chicken
Creating different spice blends is something I genuinely enjoy experimenting with in the kitchen. For this recipe, I designed a Latin-inspired seasoning base that features:
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Paprika (Sweet or smoked paprika)
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Salt and pepper add the basic savory and slightly spicy element. Paprika provides a red hue and smokiness if using the smoked variety. Cumin is nutty, earthy, and bitter, while coriander adds a lemony, sweet, floral note. Garlic powder and onion powder add a roasted allium taste instead of raw and intense.
The recipe makes about double the amount of spices you will need. So, you can use as little or as much as you like or save some to quickly grab and use for the next batch of grilled chicken. If you want to make it a blackening spice mixture, add brown sugar for a hint of sweetness and chili powder for extra heat.
Oil the chicken before grilling
Before adding the chicken to the grill, rub it with cooking oil. Use a high smoke point oil that has a neutral taste. I prefer olive oil or avocado oil. This process helps prevent sticking to the grill. The oil also dissolves and releases more fat-soluble flavor compounds in the seasoning for better tasting meat.
Oil also provides a protective layer on the dried spices to reduce the amount of burning. You only need about ½ to 1 teaspoon of oil per side.
How to grill chicken
To ensure stunning grill marks on the meat, preheat the grill. I use medium-high heat, between 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC). If using a gas grill, keep one burner off for indirect heat to gently finish cooking thicker pieces of chicken. Set up a two-zone fire of direct and indirect heat using a charcoal grill. Before adding the chicken, the grill grates should be clean and greased with oil.
Place the chicken on the direct heat side of the barbecue. I like to lightly press down on the meat to have good contact with the hot grill grates for color. Close the lid to reduce heat loss and to ensure even cooking by surrounding the poultry with dry heat.
How long to grill chicken breast
Cook time depends on the thickness and if it’s whole or sliced into culets. It will take about 5 to 8 minutes per side for thicker pieces and between 3 to 5 minutes for thinner ones. Dark meat like thighs, legs, and wings need an extra few minutes because they are fattier with more connective tissue.
If needed, finish cooking on the indirect heat side until fully cooked, between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC). Rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving to allow carryover cooking and the juices to redistribute.
Ways to use grilled chicken
- Chicken enchiladas
- Chicken salad with ranch dressing or balsamic vinaigrette
- Pulled chicken sandwiches
- Grilled BBQ chicken pizza
- Chicken nachos
Serve this with
- Homemade barbecue sauce
- Potato salad
- Classic coleslaw
- Vinegar coleslaw
- Broccoli slaw
- Baked beans
- Corn on the cob
Frequently asked questions
Yes! For indoor stovetop cooking, a grill pan works very well. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and oil it to prevent sticking. Cook the chicken for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side until fully cooked. If needed, reduce the heat to medium after flipping for thicker pieces.
It depends on the thickness of the chicken and if it’s light, dark, or bone-in. Over medium-high heat, boneless breasts take about 10 to 16 minutes, drumsticks about 16 to 24, legs and bone-in thighs 20 to 30 minutes, and wings 16 to 22 minutes.
The grill must be scorching to get a quick char mark without drying out the chicken. Place the meat, smooth side down, at a 45-degree angle to the grate, the ends at 10 and 4 o’clock. Char marks should appear after about 2 to 3 minutes. Now turn the meat clockwise about 45 degrees, to about 2 and 8 o’clock to create the diamond. Let it sear another 2 to 3 minutes, then flip to complete the cooking process.
Choosing spices for seasoning grilled meats
Spices with oil-soluble flavor compounds like coriander, cumin, and paprika are great for grilling. When in contact with olive oil, those flavor compounds dissolve and disperse better. Using a dry heat cooking technique like grilling allows the spices in the oil mixture to bloom, intensifying the taste of the ground seasoning. Too high of heat can char them, which is desirable on barbecued foods in small amounts.
Grilled Chicken Recipe
- Preheat the Grill – Preheat the grill over medium-high heat to 400 to 450ºF (204 to 232ºC).
- Prepare the Grates – Clean and carefully grease the cooking grates with the oil. Keep one burner off for indirect heat cooking.
- Make the Seasoning – In a small bowl, combine salt, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and coriander.
- Prepare the Chicken – Evenly season the meat with the spice mixture, about ½ teaspoon per side. Store extra seasoning in an airtight container for later use. Drizzle 1 teaspoon of olive oil on each side, and rub the surface to evenly coat.
- Grill the Chicken – Place the chicken on the direct heat side of the grill and close the lid. Cook each side for about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness, until the internal temperature reaches between 160 to 165ºF (71 to 74ºC).If browning quickly, move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill to complete cooking.
- To Serve – Allow the meat to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing or serving.
- Grilling Other Chicken Parts: Drumsticks (8-12 minutes per side), legs (10-15 minutes per side), thighs (10-15 minutes per side), wings (8-12 minutes per side).
- Using a Grill Pan: Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Grease the pan with oil to prevent sticking. Cook each side for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until fully cooked. For thicker pieces of meat, reduce the heat to medium after flipping.
- Storing: Store grilled chicken in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Leftover seasoning can be stored for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Cover and reheat in the microwave on the high setting in 30-second intervals until hot.
- Make it Whole30: Use extra-virgin olive oil and sea salt.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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