Do you intend to throw a party with grilled meat, including chicken, along with others! If so, this feature will be super important for you as we hope to show you how to dry rub chicken for grilling in the perfect way.

The dry rub you wish to use for chicken typically and obviously includes dry ingredients like spices, herbs, sugar, salt, and sometimes other flavorings. These ingredients are typically rubbed right into the meat using the hands. The time of application depends. Some prefer patting it right before the chicken hits the grill. While some rub the seasoning and keep it for hours or overnight. 

The rest of this article speaks about everything you need to know about using a dry rub on chicken for grilling. So, stay with us till the end!

How To Dry Rub Chicken For Grilling?

There are tons of different flavors of dry rubs composed of various dry spices, herbs, different kinds of salts, types of sugars, and sometimes other flavorings. 

How To Dry Rub Chicken For Grilling - SpiceRally

In fact, you are free to use your own rub combinations. But it is crucial to learn how and when to use this to make your grilled chicken flawless.

What Is The Right Way To Use A Dry Rub On Chicken?

There is actually no right way or wrong way- but there is a perfect way! 

01 – Cleaning

First, your chicken should be thoroughly defrosted before starting anything. Then, rinse and clean the meat.

02 – Cutting

You are free to decide the thickness and the size of your chicken. But, remember, if you take large chicken breasts, cut them in half and make chicken cutlets. This allows the spices, herbs, and other flavorings to penetrate the meat easily.

However, we do not suggest going with huge pieces. Therefore, you can choose chicken wings, legs, thighs, or breast cutlets. 

And, if you wish to go with a whole chicken, you will have to spatchcock the chicken by cutting out the backbone with shears. Then, after pressing down the breast to flatten, you can proceed with the following steps.

03- Drying

Always pat dry your meat until the moisture is fully absorbed. This step is necessary as the surface of your meat can be a playground of various contaminants. So, make sure you do this before rubbing in your seasoning.

To make a perfect grilling experience, you need to know about the spices that you are going to be using to season your meat or vegetables. We have the best list of grilling spices right here- click and check them out!

04- Oiling Before The Rub Being Applied

Oiling or moistening actually does not do much of a flavor change. And this step is totally up to you. Oiling or moistening the surface of the meat will somehow help you apply an even coat of your dry rub. In addition, this will also help your meat not to stick to the grill.

Thus, if you plan to go with some oil, you can choose one of your preferences, like olive oil, vegetable oil, or avocado oil. We suggest you go with a gentle layer without making them drip with oil. And you can also try a smooth layer of mustard.

05- Applying The Rub

It would be best if you had both your hands to do this. You may have to put it on the chicken pieces or your whole chicken with one hand and rub it on them with the other. It may sound a bit multitasking, but you need to do this to get the best out of your rub.

The seasoning should be rubbed on every side and corner. And, you actually can’t leave it just by “sprinkling” your dry rub over. In a nutshell, your chicken literally needs sprinkling and rubbing.

You got strong hands! So, just confidently massage and pound it down generously. Using your hands, cover the entire piece with the seasoning. 

A little tasty tip: Try to go for a second layer once you are done with one rubbing coat. This will make a more crispy coating on your chicken, and you will feel it with every bite!

When To Apply The Dry Rub On Chicken?

As we said in our introduction, the idea of the time of application can vary from person to person. Some massage their rub over chicken just before it hits the grill. 

In the meantime, some give their meat some time to season, allowing the rub to sit for several hours or overnight before grilling.

So, when exactly do you need to apply a dry rub on chicken? Using it right before putting chicken on the grill and leaving it for a few minutes, hours, or overnight- all work well.

But, according to our experiments, we clearly found out that applying the rub at least 30 minutes before grilling can give your meat a more concentrated flavor than putting the rub just in the moment.

Dry rubbing is not the only way to season chicken. Click here and go to this article to discover the best seasonings for the chicken to come up with heavenly dishes!

What’s The Right Amount Of Dry Rub To Use?

This is another topic that is on the debate among many grilled-meat lovers. However, according to the sources, one tablespoon of dry rub is enough for one pound (450g) of chicken.

But, what if you are planning to go on a second rubbing round? Hence, this is another personal sweet spot you need to find for yourself. Anyway, we should remind you that too much of anything is not a very good idea. 

Summer is that time of the year when a man thinks he can cook better outdoors on a grill than any woman can cook indoors using an entire kitchen!


A dry rub or a marinade- any of these are meant to enhance the flavor of the main ingredient. Therefore, it is important that we protect its flavor by not letting the taste of the dry rub overpower its elements. In short, we need to safeguard the balance of flavors for the best grilling experience.

So, you can start with just one tablespoon or a little less per one pound of chicken. If you think this amount is not enough, you can increase the quantity ahead of time.

How Long Should Dry Rub Sit On Chicken?

As we discussed in our “When To Apply The Dry Rub On Chicken?” segment, the time of applying and sitting the rub on the chicken is coming to a personal preference.

A dry rub can actually be a “last moment” seasoning since it can give a pretty good flavor to the chicken. Nevertheless, leaving it for some time after applying the rub can really enhance the taste. And it truly does allow the meat to absorb all the flavors from the spices, herbs, and other flavorings.

Therefore, there’s no standard time that you should allow your rub to sit on the chicken. But still, you could always get a better flavor if you keep it at least 30 minutes to one hour.  By doing so, you can obviously have great taste even beyond your expectations!

Should You Season Chicken Before Grilling?

What do you think is your purpose for applying a dry rub then? Just kidding! Well, in fact, you technically season your pieces or whole meat by massaging the dry rub, coating every nook and corner. 

But this does not imply that you cannot grill meat without seasoning. If you are a bland eater, then you can go ahead and slap your chunks of meat in the grill and eat. But, as you know, seasoning makes stuff so much better. 

Specifically, when it comes to meat like chicken, the ingredients used in seasonings like a dry rub or a marinade allow it to become more flavorful and juicy. And some elements can even tenderize meat.

What do you prefer, grilling next weekend? Beef ribs or pork ribs? Whatever you plan to go with, we think you would love to learn the right way of preparing dry-rubbed ribs for the grill. Click here for our feature.

Can I Put A Rub On The Chicken Overnight?

A dry rub can actually sit on your chicken overnight. And the meat will not spoil or dry out as long as you cover it appropriately and pop it in the refrigerator to chill the night through. But there are some facts that you should know and consider before leaving the chicken with a rub throughout the night.

But, thanks to our experiment outcomes, we found that the taste of the chicken can intensify the longer we allow the rub to sit on them. In fact, since overnight is approximately 12 hours, your dry rub can grant a more robust flavor, and this can further sharpen with the grilling process.

Bear in mind: Consequently, if you are sensitive to spices and herbs or do not like the overwhelming taste of these flavorings, we recommend you not to leave your spice-rubbed chicken overnight. Instead, you can apply the rub for like 30 minutes before you put it in the grill.

Which Is Better Dry Rub Or Marinade?

When it comes to grilling, both dry rubbing and marinating can work pretty well. But both of them have their own pros and cons.

A marinate, unlike a dry rub, is more liquidy. Spices, herbs, and other flavorings are used, but with a liquid acidic base such as sauces and vinegar. Therefore, its acidity has a higher capacity to tenderize more soft meat like chicken (this has been proved through our experiments, and we used soy sauce as our liquid base).

Conversely, a dry rub usually makes a coating around the piece of meat, sealing the juiciness. And, it does not give so much moisture to the surface of the meat as a marinade would do. 

In addition, the sugar added in most dry rubs gives a more caramelized effect to chicken, which a marinade typically doesn’t provide. In fact, a dry rub simply gives so much flavor within a short time and without requiring much dilution.

So What’s The Best?

However, on the plus side, you have control over the moisture level when using a dry rub. The reason is, even if you feel like your piece of chicken is dry, you have the opportunity to use a glaze, like a barbecue sauce, a mix of maple syrup and soy sauce, etc. 

But, once you put something on the grill after marinating, you will have to deal with the moisture level since it is pretty done. In fact, you can still adjust dryness with a glaze, but you have no control over moisture.

Dry Rub Chicken For Grilling - SpiceRally

Therefore, we could say that a dry rub would give both flavor and controllability over meat. Meanwhile, using a marinade provides a lot of concentrated flavors but can be hard to adjust later. 

Moreover, when you don’t have much time to prepare chicken perfectly, you can go for a dry rub as a quick and flavorsome option. 

Aesthetically speaking, if you need very tender meat, you could reach out for marinating. But, if your preference is slightly tender yet crunchy meat with a depth of flavor, then you could choose a dry rub.

So, Why Don’t You Give Your Rub A Go!

When you learn how to dry rub chicken for grilling in the perfect way, no one will be able to beat the inner master chef in you! And that’s what we helped you with throughout this article, elaborating on each and every fact.

To dry rub chicken for grilling, you need to use good seasoning in the first place. And it is generally applied right into the pieces or your whole chicken after thoroughly pat-dried, following with or without a gentle oil coating. You can either do this right before you put your meat into the grill or leave it for some time after rubbing before hitting the fire. 

So, once you do your dry-rubbed grilled chicken in the right way, do not forget to share your experience in the comment section below!

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