Smoked Chicken Rub {Award Winning Recipe!}

Competition Chicken Rub Recipe

This is the original smoked chicken rub we created for our first competition.

The rub is simple, but serves its purpose.  You can use this basic chicken rub with all your chicken and turkey recipes.

How to Get the Smoked Chicken Rub to Stick to the Meat?

There are three techniques for getting the rub to adhere to the chicken.

  • Patience
  • Binders
  • Go Underneath

Being Patient

Most people will apply the rub to one side of the chicken and then flip it over to season the other side.  This results in most of the rub that was applied to the first side falling off.

What you should do instead is season one side of the chicken and then wait for at least 15 minutes before flipping the chicken over and seasoning the other side.  Waiting 15 minutes gives the salt in the rub time to draw out some moisture from the chicken will helps turn the rub into a paste that naturally adheres better to the meat.

Use a Binder

A great trick to help the rub adhere is to apply a binder to the chicken.  Some great binders are a thin coating of mustard or mayonnaise.

Apply the binder layer to the chicken, using as little as possible, and then apply the rub.  It is surprising but the flavor of the binder doesn’t really come through after the poultry has been cooked.

Go Underneath the Skin

To really get the rub to adhere to and interact with the meat then you can apply it underneath the chicken skin.  This is a great trick when you are smoking chicken leg quarters for pulled chicken and will probably be discarding the skin anyways.

How Long Should the Chicken Rub Sit on the Meat?

I like to let the rub sit on the chicken for at least 30 minutes before I start cooking.  I feel like you need at least 30 minutes for the salt and spices to start working their way into the meat.  Here is some more details about how to use the rub to make our Award Winning Smoked Chicken Thighs.

You can let the rub sit for overnight if desired to “dry brine” the meat but typically 4-5 hours is plenty of time.

Smoking and Grilling Chicken Seasoned with the Dry Rub

There is no sugar in this rub which means it can be used for high heat grilling of boneless chicken breasts as well as low and slow smoking of bone in breasts.

You should be cautious about cooking chicken with this rub directly over high heat.  The rub does not contain any sugars that could scorch but it does contain granulated garlic which can turn bitter if it burns.

Always cook the breast to at least 165F and target a temperature of 175-185 for the legs and thighs.

Smoked Chicken Rub {Award Winning Recipe!}

This is the dry rub that helped us win our first competition on our journey towards our adventures at Memphis in May
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Dry Rub
Cuisine American
Calories 10 kcal


  • 2 T Sea Salt
  • 1.5 T Granulated Garlic
  • 1 T Granulated Onion
  • 1 tsp Ground Thyme
  • 1.5 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Dry Mustard


  • Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.


Apply the rub liberally and allow it to soak into the meat for at least 30 minutes before cooking the chicken.
Keyword Award Winning Smoked Chicken Rub

5 thoughts on “Smoked Chicken Rub {Award Winning Recipe!}

  1. After trying many dry rub recipes, this is the best, as reported by family. Spatchcocked the turkey, used a mayo binder and smoked on myTraeger. Wife says it was the best.

  2. Is this fine ground or coarse ground sea salt? I am guessing fine because I don’t see chunks of salt in the rub… but any advice would be appreciated.

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