The best grilled chicken is surprisingly low-maintenance; an easy homemade dry rub adds a touch of magic in no time. Dried herbs and spices are all you need to transform everyday chicken breasts into a mouth-watering meal.

Juicy grilled chicken breasts on a white plate.

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If you’re not acquainted with the idea of a dry rub for meat, get ready to be amazed. This is the best trick up our sleeves for producing juicy, flavorful chicken with very little prep work or time.

Sure, a marinade works well when you have hours to spare, but in real life we sometimes need to make great food happen fast. And fortunately, a modest selection of dried herbs and spices combines to make the magic.

Small prep bowl containing sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, paprika, and cumin.

All you will need is a handful of spice cupboard staples: cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chipotle chili powder, sea salt, and black pepper.

If you don’t already consider chipotle chili powder a staple, please think again! You can buy a small container in the spice aisle at most ordinary grocery stores and it goes a long way, imparting incredible flavor to dishes like shrimp fajitas, black bean chili, and black bean tacos.

Spices mixed together in a small white bowl.

Mix those six ingredients together and you have a miracle spice rub that will taste good on nearly anything.

How to grill chicken with dry rub

After combining the spices, when ready to grill, simply stir in a bit of olive oil, then literally and liberally rub the mixture all over your boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If using skin-on chicken breasts, thighs, or wings, use your fingertips to work the mixture in under the skin for maximum flavor.

Now simply grill the chicken over medium-high heat until the middle is no longer pink. The FDA recommends cooking poultry to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F; an affordable instant-read thermometer makes it easy to verify that your food is safe and prevent the cautious overcooking that so often leads to dry, tough meats.

Slice and serve! We love this grilled chicken with dry rub alongside a simple salad or baked sweet potatoes. It pairs especially well with a side of honey cinnamon sweet potatoes, with or without the oat topping.

Slices of grilled chicken with dark grill marks on a plate with a fork.

Customize it!

  • For smoky flavor: swap in smoked paprika or add a drop of liquid smoke along with the olive oil.
  • For a sweet-spicy blend: add 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  • For an Italian twist: omit the chipotle chili powder and cumin, and add 2 teaspoons each dried oregano and rosemary.
  • To increase the heat: add a pinch of cayenne. A little goes a long way!

The same spice blends can be used on chicken thighs, a whole chicken, pork chops, or even fish. You can also sprinkle a few teaspoons over potatoes or veggies that you plan to roast or grill. Dry rubs are incredibly versatile!

How long does a dry rub last?

If you enjoy this method, it’s well worth making a big batch–triple or even quadruple the recipe as written below–and storing the dry rub in your pantry. This allows you to get dinner going in next to no time!

This chicken dry rub will last six months or more, as long as your dried herbs were not ancient to begin with. Just store the blend in a tightly closed jar. Small canning jars are perfect for keeping homemade spice blends and salad dressings; I’ve been known to scrub out old jam jars for the same purpose.

Can I make this without a grill?

Of course! The dry rub also works beautifully if you prefer to cook the chicken indoors. You can follow any method you like; my favorite is to sear the chicken for 2 minutes on each side in a cast-iron pan, then bake at 350 or 400 degrees F until it reaches 165. This usually takes another 15-20 minutes, though times will vary considerably depending on the thickness of each piece of meat.

More Grilling Favorites

When you’re ready to fire up the BBQ, don’t miss these other favorites:

And these are a few of our favorite sides that go with any BBQ or summer potluck:

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Juicy grilled chicken breasts seasoned with a homemade dry rub.
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Easy Grilled Chicken with Dry Rub

The best grilled chicken is surprisingly low-maintenance; an easy homemade dry rub adds a touch of magic in no time, with just a few dried herbs and spices!

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili powder
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Instructions

  • Preheat grill to medium high.
  • In a small bowl or jar, combine the cumin, garlic powder, paprika, sea salt, pepper, and chili powder. Add olive oil and stir well, then rub this mixture over all sides of the chicken.
  • Grill chicken for 4-6 minutes on each side, just until it hits 165 degrees F and is no longer pink in the middle. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can also make the dry rub in bulk and store in the pantry – just scale and mix cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and chili powder in desired amounts and store in a small airtight jar. When ready to use, combine 2 tablespoons seasoning mix with 2 tablespoons olive oil for every 2-3 chicken breasts. Stir, rub, and grill! 
  • The dry rub also works beautifully if you prefer to cook the chicken indoors. You can follow any method you like; my favorite is to sear the chicken for 2 minutes on each side in a cast-iron pan, then bake at 350 or 400 degrees F until it reaches 165. This usually takes another 15-20 minutes, though times will vary considerably depending on the thickness of each piece of meat.
Variations:
  • For smoky flavor: swap in smoked paprika or add a drop of liquid smoke.
  • For a sweet-spicy blend: add 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  • For an Italian twist: leave out the chipotle chili powder and cumin, and add 2 teaspoons each dried oregano and rosemary instead.
  • To increase the heat: add a pinch of cayenne. A little goes a long way!

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1chicken breast, Calories: 331kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 13g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 145mg, Sodium: 849mg, Potassium: 883mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 364IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 2mg
Did you make this recipe?Leave a review below, then snap a quick picture and tag @nourishandfete on Instagram so I can see it!