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Perfect Smoked Chicken Rub

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 love our barbecue! And, everyone has a "secret recipe." Well today I'm sharing my secret smoked chicken rub!

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 teaspoon 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.

It would overwhelm scallops, if you catch my drift! Here are some other ways to use this 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 Italian dressing and seasoning in this Grilled Turkey Breast recipe!
  2. Rub on salmon, but add a few tablespoons of brown sugar. This makes a great smoked salmon rub. Substitute it for the rub in this Smoked Salmon Recipe!
  3. Rub on fatty, meaty cuts of pork like 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 or Smoked Chicken Quarters! 
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!

Homemade Chicken Seasoning - Chicken Spice Rub

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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Monday 4th of July 2022

Everyone loves this recipe every time I use it. Very good.

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks - Easy Smoked Chicken Legs Recipe

Monday 16th of May 2022

[…] chicken leg recipe uses my Smoked Chicken Rub. It's a sweet rub with a kick of spice, using brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, […]


Friday 15th of April 2022

I do freezer prep and needed a good recipe for a rub to put on chicken breasts on the smoker. I actually rubbed some mustard on the chicken before adding the rub and then smoked until the chicken was done and it turned out really good! I then shredded all the chicken and bagged for the freezer - this makes life so simple when we need something quick and I can pull out a bag of smoked chicken for quesadillas, taquitos, etc. Next time I think I will add more garlic as you suggested and maybe smoked paprika as another user suggested just to play around but it’s good as written too. Thanks for the recipe!

Michelle Goth

Monday 18th of April 2022

Hi Jenn!

Thanks for the feedback! I love that you do bulk protein, I agree it's the best way to save time. I always go heavier on the garlic too, we love everything pretty garlicky. I will try using the mustard as a binder next time, great idea!

Thanks again! Michelle


Sunday 24th of October 2021

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

Michelle Goth

Monday 25th of October 2021

JR- So glad you enjoyed it. That pork loin sounds awesome!


Friday 18th of June 2021

Going to try this tomorrow, question do you need to brine for this recipe?

Michelle Goth

Tuesday 22nd of June 2021

Hi there! No, I don't think you need a brine since you're likely using skin on chicken and low heat! But, you can always choose to do one overnight, just make sure the skin is patted dry with paper towels before applying the rub!

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