Grilled Chicken

4.97 from 82 votes
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For your next barbecue, enhance the taste of grilled chicken using this simple dry rub seasoning mix. Instantly add flavor with no marinating required.

Grilled chicken breasts cooking on a barbecue grill.

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!

Person sprinkling dried seasoning mix on top of chicken breasts.

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)
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • 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.

Recipe Resources

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.

Olive oil being poured from the bottle on top of chicken breasts.

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.

Chicken with grill marks served on a white platter.

Ways to use grilled chicken

Serve this with

Frequently asked questions

Can a grill pan be used to cook the chicken?

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.

How long do you cook grilled chicken?

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.

How do you make diamond grill marks on the chicken?

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.

Grilled chicken cut into slices and served with lemon wedges.

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

Grilled chicken recipe using a mix of dried spices for maximum flavor. It's a quick BBQ meal ready in 30 minutes.
4.97 from 82 votes
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Course Entree
Cuisine American


  • 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • 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.

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 273kcal (14%)Carbohydrates 2g (1%)Protein 48g (96%)Fat 6g (9%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Cholesterol 145mg (48%)Sodium 1139mg (47%)Potassium 896mg (26%)Vitamin A 455IU (9%)Vitamin C 2.7mg (3%)Calcium 28mg (3%)Iron 2.1mg (12%)

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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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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Recipe Rating

21 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Marina Rapisarda says

    Thx. Jessica
    looks yummy . Can’t wait to try it.
    I’ve been cooking for over 45 years but never thought much about the science that makes a savory finished product. I love your recipes and your explanation of the science in them. I guess that not only baking is science.

  2. Eric says

    I love grilling, I mean I really love the process. This recipe was an excellent departure from the mainstream barbecue sauces that that usually get poured on the chicken. I decided to use avocado oil. The meal was a big hit. I decided to pair it with Jessica’s roasted brussel sprout recipe, which was another hit.

    Thank you Jessica for putting your recipes out there for the world to see. I’m looking forward to learning from you!

  3. Natalie B says

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I made it today and my chicken came out PERFECTLY! I added 1 TBS of light brown sugar to the rub. This is the best chicken I’ve ever made. Super easy and I had all the ingredients already in my kitchen. Thanks so much! I’ve been bored with my chicken until now!

  4. Lane Cibororowski says

    I made this last night and it was a hit! Our grill was out of propane so I browned the chicken on the stove and then finished it in the oven. My husband says it was excellent which he rarely says about chicken. Thank you so much!

    • Jessica Gavin says

      I like to flatten the chicken to even thickness, or cut them into thinner pieces. I would heat the pan over medium heat, once hot lightly grease the pan with oil. Add the chicken, press into the pan and do not move! When ghar marks appear, about 5 to 7 minutes, flip it over. Then cook until it reaches between 160-165ºF. Let me know if that works!

  5. Brian Fox says

    These were, by far, the most flavorful and juiciest grilled chicken breasts I’ve ever made. I used the chicken marinade linked in the recipe and used the spices exactly as noted.
    So easy and so incredibly good. My family loved it!

  6. Hassan Oum says

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been bbqing all year and looking forward to it again this weekend! Excited to try ribs for my next cookout.

  7. Arley Amundson says

    I used this cooking method recommended, how to grill, how long, temperature, and coating with olive oil. I just used kosher salt, and pepper. Followed procedures and it came out perfect! Tender, moist, and not dried out. Highly recommend this for any recipe you may use.