Looking for a delicious smoked chicken rub you can make at home? THIS IS IT! Amazing on smoked, grilled or roasted chicken, this rub is the perfect seasoning for chicken.

Folks, this is THE rub. Most of us that love to smoke meat spend quite a bit of money on barbecue rubs, trying to find the right combo. And they aren’t cheap!

Here in Kansas City, you’ll find hundreds of barbecue rubs on the shelves because we love our barbecue! And, everyone has a “secret recipe.” Well today I’m sharing my secret smoked chicken rub!

a close up photo of smoked chicken rub in a jar

Love this recipe? I think you’ll also enjoy my Smoked Beef Rub and Smoked Pork Ribs with Homemade Dry Rub!

Warning! This chicken rub recipe has some kick to it. But don’t worry, it’s easy to fix if you don’t like spicy food! I have some suggestions below: 

“Great mix! Smoked chicken thighs finished on a high grill that were phenomenal! I also used it on a smoked pork loin adding 2 teaspoons ground mustard that turned out amazing. Got lots of compliments!”

JR, blog reader

Modifications for Smoked Chicken Rub: 

  • If you don’t like spicy food, completely omit or lessen the cayenne pepper. 
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons or brown sugar to provide a sweet balance and help to form a caramelized crust. 
  • Kick up the garlic for a more garlicky flavor 
  • If you do not have white pepper on hand, substitute black pepper. It will be fine! White pepper has a milder flavor, but otherwise provides a similar flavor. 
Smoked Chicken Rub

I use this rub on Smoked Chicken Drumsticks and Smoked Chicken Breast most of the time. It’s an awesome rub for smoked chicken thighs, too!

This smoked chicken rub is excellent on other proteins as well. But, it packs powerful flavor, so choose a substantial protein that can hold up to it.

an overhead photo of a wooden spoon filled with chicken spice rub

“I used this rub to season and smoke a spatchcocked chicken. I did use white ground pepper and smoked paprika as recommended but only 1/4 tsp. of cayenne.  I also softened 8 oz of butter to which I added about 1-1/2 T. of grated garlic and 1/2 c. of blue cheese crumbles. Wearing a plastic glove, I separated the skin from the chicken and evenly spread the butter mixture over the bird, under the skin. I then applied the rub onto the skin.  It turned out great.  Very flavorful and very moist.  I’ve never used a butter mixture under the skin when smoking a chicken. Don’t think I’ll add blue cheese to the butter next time as I couldn’t detect much of its flavor in the chicken, but I do think the butter contributed to a moister bird.  Everyone loved the seasoned flavor, so I directed them to your site.  Thank you!”


Please know that the flavors in this chicken rub are robust. It would overwhelm scallops, if you catch my drift!

a photo of chicken spice rub in a jar

Here are some other ways to use this chicken rub recipe: 

Alternate uses for Smoked Chicken Rub:

  1. Rub on a turkey breast. This is a delicious smoked turkey breast rub. Try it instead of the Italian dressing and seasoning in this Grilled Turkey Breast recipe, or instead of the Cajun seasoning in my Smoked Boneless Turkey.
  2. Rub on salmon, but add a few tablespoons of brown sugar. This makes a great smoked salmon rub, replacing the rub in my Smoked Salmon Recipe!
  3. Rub on fatty, meaty cuts of pork like smoked pork butts and shoulders. This makes a great savory pulled pork rub. Use it instead of the seasoning listed in this slow cooker pulled pork recipe!
  4. And, you can use it on Smoked Chicken Breast, Smoked Chicken Quarters or The Juiciest Smoked Whole Chicken!
Smoked Chicken Rub

I hope that you enjoy this seasoning for chicken. If you use it on something other than chicken, please let me know how it was in the comments!

Smoked Chicken Rub

Perfect Smoked Chicken Rub

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

This smoked chicken rub recipe creates enough rub for about 2 whole chickens.


  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika*
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar 
  • 1.5 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, but recommended)**


  1. Combine ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Apply to your favorite meat before cooking.


*Smoked paprika is great, if you have it on hand! Otherwise, use normal paprika.

**If you don't like spicy foods, add just a dash of cayenne pepper instead of the amount called for.

Did you make this recipe?

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Homemade Chicken Seasoning - Chicken Spice Rub