Spicy Chicken Rub for Grilled Chicken

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Fire up the grill and enjoy an easy chicken dinner with this Spicy Chicken Rub. Making your own seasoning blend helps you avoid additives and will save you money!

Grilled chicken with spicy chicken rub

Do you ever find yourself in a pinch for what to make for dinner?

Maybe you found a great sale on chicken but you’re stumped for how to season it.

Or maybe you want to cook out tonight but you’re bored of the standard hot dogs or hamburgers.

Or maybe you just need a quick, no-brainer, no-fail recipe to save the day.

Good thing is that I have just the thing! A Spicy Chicken Rub that comes together in minutes and flavors your chicken in a mesmerizing way.

I like to be organized at meal times, but despite all my best efforts, I still have the odd night when I’m staring into the fridge wondering what to make. That’s usually when the grill comes into play.

If I can get a hold on something to throw on the barbie, dinner can come together pretty quickly. And so can you!

This homemade spice rub is actually hearty enough to stand up to beef and pork, but doesn’t overpower chicken, either. It’s the all-purpose, perfect flavoring for all your meat-seasoning needs.

platter of spicy chicken with tongs

How can I make plain chicken taste better?

Over the last few years, my grilling preparation has become more streamlined and simplified. Instead of taking time to make a lot of marinades, I’ve been relying on homemade spice blends to add flavor to chicken, fish, pork, and beef.

It takes just minutes to mix up a spice blend, and I’ve found that it’s a very economical way to add great flavor to all our grilling cuts. That’s not to say I’ve abandoned the marinades. I still have my favorite marinade recipes.

But, when I’m in a pinch, the spice rub comes to my rescue.

What spice goes well with chicken?

There are lots of great herbs and spices that go well with chicken. It really depends on what flavor profile you’re looking for.

Cumin, oregano, and chile powder offer a southwest flavor while tarragon, thyme, and rosemary hearken to France. Cardamom, turmeric, cumin, and curry offer Indian flavors while garlic and five-spice powder will give it an Asian seasoning.

This Spicy Chicken Rub, with a mix of spices from around the globe, has been a long-time favorite of ours. There’s a little bit of heat from the cayenne, but not enough to be overpowering.

Spicy Chicken Rub seasoning

How do you make a spice rub for chicken?

Making your own spice mixes couldn’t be easier! Simply blend the herbs and spices together in a small bowl. Season your chicken, taking care not to get any moisture in the spice mix or to contaminate it with chicken juices. Then store the leftover spice rub in an airtight container in the pantry. 

You can mix up one batch at a time or make several batches at one time. 

It’s a wonder spice; what can I say? Keep it on hand for all kinds of quick seasoning jobs.

chicken seasoned with spice rub

Do you season chicken before or after cooking?

I prefer to season the chicken before I cook it. It helps the spices to adhere better to the chicken and flavor it well.

However, if you’d like to season cooked chicken after the fact, chop or shred the meat and toss it with a few teaspoons of the seasoning. This works really well with a rotisserie chicken

For a cooked chicken that may already be seasoned with salt, you may want to omit the salt from the spice recipe.

Spicy Chicken Rub chicken on grill

Make enough grilled chicken so that you can add it to salads and quinoa bowls throughout the week or freeze it for a later date. You’ll be so glad you did!

If you don’t have a grill or aren’t in the mood for grilling, you can still use this Spicy Chicken Rub on chicken for baking, broiling, or sautéing. 

How do you store cooked chicken?

To store for later: cool cooked chicken and package in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

If you’d like to freeze the chicken, chill it completely in the fridge before storing it in the freezer for up to 6 weeks.

dinner of spicy chicken with spice rub

How to save money making this recipe:

Here are some of the strategies I use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Meal plan around what’s on sale. Don’t decide to make this when chicken is $5/pound and you have none in the freezer. Next time you see chicken on sale, add this to your meal plan!
  • Do a price comparison. I know that ALDI is the best place for me to buy chicken when there isn’t a great sale elsewhere. It’s normally $1.89/lb! I keep track of prices so that I know who has the best deal where. 
  • Buy spices in bulk. I regularly buy large containers of the spices I use most frequently, like pepper, salt, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and dill. I fill small containers to store in my spice cupboard and then store the excess herbs and spices in the freezer to extend their shelf life. It’s much cheaper to buy large amounts of spice this way. If you’re not sure you can use a large quantity, split it with a friend or Give Spice Mixes as Gifts.
  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Buy extra chicken as well as spice ingredients and stash them away in your pantry so you can make this dish whenever you want.

Tools you might need to make this recipe easy:

This is a pretty straight-forward dish. You don’t need any fancy equipment. However, having some good basic kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I like to use in this recipe.

bowl of spice rub for chicken

4.25 from 4 votes
bowl of spice rub for chicken
Spicy Chicken Rub
Prep Time
5 mins
Total Time
5 mins
Fire up the grill and enjoy an easy chicken dinner with this Spicy Chicken Rub. Making your own seasoning blend helps you avoid additives and will save you money!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken rub, chicken seasoning, chicken spice, homemade spice mix, spice, spice blend, spice mix, spice rub
Servings: 2 tablespoons
Calories: 18 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.
Recipe Notes

Note: To use spice rub, brush chicken pieces or other meat with olive oil. Season liberally with chicken rub. Rub in gently. Cook over a hot grill until done.

Nutrition Facts
Spicy Chicken Rub
Amount Per Serving
Calories 18 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 585mg25%
Potassium 80mg2%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1828IU37%
Calcium 8mg1%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.



About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. This sounds like a great rub recipe!

  2. Ohhh, this sounds delish. I love grilling out.

    Thanks for hosting!

  3. I just finished blogging a whole week of chicken recipes after reading this post: http://parentingthetiniestofmiracles.blogspot.com/2011/01/prepping-five-meals-from-five-chicken.html . I never knew how to break down chicken like this. The savings are amazing.

    I’m excited to try your rub. It looks like you use it on boneless skinless breasts. Have you tried it on chicken with skin?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Thanks for your persistence in commenting. Since you linked to a permalink in the url field of the comments, it took it to spam. All’s well now. 🙂

  4. That looks like a delicious rub! My husband is kind of “in” to meat rubs lately. I was just going to start researching how to make our own and then I saw this post. Thanks! 🙂

  5. Micha says

    That’s my kind of chicken. I will have to try that because everything I’ve made that has been a recipe from you has turned out great.

  6. I shared my newfound penny pinching aid in the kitchen….Homemade Taco Seasoning. Enjoy!

  7. We grill a lot too. It is so much easier and my husband, who isn’t much of a cook, doesn’t mind it when he is the grillmaster.

    Thanks for the link up.

  8. I have a whole slew of chicken recipes:-)

  9. Your chicken looks so wonderful. I will have to try your rub soon. Thanks for sharing your recipe.
    ~ Marion

  10. Cold roast chicken, a lovely salad plate, and plenty of pickles.

  11. Yummy! I love spice rubs and will definitely have go give this one a try. Thanks! Mindy

  12. The recipe I shared is a double batch– serve one, freeze one for later. Love all the ideas here!
    Mary, mom to many

  13. Nora says

    Looks so good, I love grilled chicken

  14. I have so many chicken recipes I love but I decided to link up to my whole wheat chicken parm. It is a family favorite and the perfect comfort food.

    Also your rub looks fantastic. I am having a barbeque for my staff in a few weeks and starting to compile recipes and I may just add this one. You made a shortbread with whipped cream and fruit a week or so ago that I am going to try and make for the dessert. When I do I will be sure to share pictures. I just love your blog.

  15. Sarah says

    Can’t wait to start grilling chicken… if the rain/snow stops around here! 🙂

  16. Aimee says

    Thanks for hosting! I love grilling…and the sun is shining today!

  17. I love spice rubs. Can’t wait for warmer weather!!!

  18. Always looking for some great new chicken recipes!! Can’t wait to try some of these out!

  19. Garlic and Oregano, and if playful lemon or lime first, or if feeling asian, soy sauce. That’s for pieces with skin on: douse, sprinkle, bake on a foil lined sheet for an hour at 375 or 400 (if big pieces).

  20. Sarah says

    This sounds exactly like the kind of spice mix my husband has been looking for. We use Jamie’s Spice Mix frequently when we grill, but he likes a lot of variety and spice – so we will give this a try! Thank you.

  21. Priya says

    My family loves chicken and this looks delicious! I will definitely try this. Thanks!

  22. Eliah says

    I made this and it is delicious! Thanks for your creative ideas 🙂
    Slight edit: I left out the ginger since we don’t like ginger in the house.



  23. lindy ndou says

    Omg this rub is so good I tried it on chicken and chicken livers this morning it was amaze balls I’m on the whole 30 and gosh what a whole 30 saviour thank you so much I really like your recipes

  24. lindy ndou says

    Oh didn’t have dill and used cumin instead.

  25. Regina Ulmer says

    5 stars
    Thank you again! This was a hit! Just the other day I noticed I had a bunch of dill weed in my pantry and I had no idea why since none of my recipes have dill in them. Well now I’ve got a recipe to use that dill for! I used this recipe for 6 chicken thighs in the crockpot on high for 4 hours and it was awesome.

  26. Alex says

    2 stars
    Why do I have to scroll more than halfway down a 17-page novel to finally get to the recipe? Recipe sites are getting really annoying.

    • Hey Alex, I understand your frustration. That’s why you’ll see a “jump to recipe” button on all updated recipe posts here on Good Cheap Eats. It’s slow going adding the feature to all the posts, but there is one on this particular recipe post. It must have missed your attention.

      I hope you’ll get a chance to prepare the recipe and give it a starred review based on the recipe itself. Thanks for taking the time to comment! — Jessica

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