11 Spice Rubs That Make Chicken Mind-Blowingly Delicious

Cooking a big batch of chicken breasts on Sunday is one of the easiest ways to prep protein for your entire week. But eating the same thing day after day is boring as hell.

Enter: spice rubs. Whip up several of these mixtures so you can roast Creole chicken, mocha chicken, Middle Eastern chicken, and barbecue chicken all at once.

Here’s the drill: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat each boneless, skinless chicken breast with the spice rub of your choice (see below), then spray very lightly with cooking spray to help the spices stick.

Bake the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165°F, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Store excess rub in an airtight container.

These rubs work equally well with bone-in, skin-on chicken, and on the grill. The cooking times will vary with other methods; just aim for the 165°F internal temperature.

Easy as that! Banish bland chicken forever with these tasty spice rubs:

Smoky Red Rub

This rub from John Stage, founder of the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, New York, combines paprika, cayenne, and sugar for a caramelized, spicy-sweet coating.

In a medium bowl, combine:

Makes about ½ cup

Middle Eastern Rub

This mix from chef Troy Guard of Denver’s TAG restaurant brings Middle Eastern flavor to the table with ground sumac, a tangy spice you can buy on Amazon or at a specialty spice store like Penzy’s.

In a medium bowl, combine:

Makes about ¼ cup

Mocha Brown Sugar Rub

Coffee and Mexican chocolate lend a rich taste to this rub. Add a little ancho power and it’s like a mariachi band of flavor in your mouth. Eric Brennan, head chef of Post 390 in Boston, says the chocolate helps the seasoning stick to the chicken.

In a medium bowl, combine:

Makes about 1 cup

Autumn Spice Rub

Harness the deep, savory flavors of fall with this complex combo of spices, via Daven Wardynski, executive chef at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation.

In a medium bowl, combine:

Makes about 1 cup

Creole Rub

Love the taste of jambalaya? Check out this potent Louisiana-inspired rub from Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s John Stage.

In a medium bowl, combine:

Makes about 1 cup

Grilled Chipotle Chicken Rub

“This is a great summer time recipe that I use all the time. Friends and family will be extremely happy to see this bird coming off the grill and [it] can easily be turned into a beer can chicken by sitting it on 1 can of tecate or you favorite beer,” says Chef Cedric Harden of River Roast in Chicago.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Then rub the inside and outside of the chicken with the mixture. Let the chicken marinate on the counter for 30 minutes or in the refrigerator overnight. Start your grill—if you’re using coals, when they are hot, push them to one side of the grill and place the chicken on the other and then cook with the lid closed with medium airflow. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Summertime Chicken Rub

“This recipe is perfect for beer can chicken. This rub tastes just like summer time on the East Coast,” says Bob Broskey, Executive Chef at Beacon Tavern.

Let the rub sit for at least 3 hours before applying to the chicken. For the best results, cook the chicken on a beer can on a grill on medium heat until it’s golden brown and the internal temp is 165 F. Or cook it in an oven at 350 degrees on a roasting rack until golden brown and the internal temp is 165 F.

Mediterranean Protein Spice Mix

“Spicy yet sweet these flavors will transport you to the Mediterranean coast [and] if you’re looking for a bold flavor to spice up your protein this is the rub for you. The coriander and caraway seeds add a punch of extra fiber and vitamins, too,” says Executive Chef Moosah Reaume from Virgin Hotels Chicago.

If possible, add to a food blender or mix well with a whisk in a bowl. Pulse for four times if you have a blender and store, label, and keep in a cool dry space. You can also save a humidity pack (the small white packet that says do not eat that comes with most jerky packets or other spices that need to be very dry), and place that into the spice mix container to store with the rub.

Stefani Prime Rub

“The hint of lemon imparts a light, citrus taste to any chicken cut, while the paprika brings gives subtle heat to each bite,” says Chef Matteo Lo Bianco of Stefani Prime in Lincolnwood, IL.

In a large bowl, combine with a whisk or toss all ingredients into a large zip lock bag and shake. Rub your mixture into the meat and get it in all nooks and crannies, including bony or fatty parts. Wrap your meat in plastic for at least an hour (up to a day) and let things mingle. Although you can grill, broil or bake things immediately, the longer the rub sits on the meat, the more flavor will develop further into it, he says.

Chili Spiced Rub

“The balance of the sweet aromatic spices and the pungency of the chili go hand in hand with the delicateness of the chicken, bringing out the natural juices in the bird and enhancing its flavor profile, ”says Chef Danny Grant of Etta in Chicago.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and slowly toast in a pan over medium or high heat, until golden brown and fragrant. “You can grind in a spice grinder (mortar & pestle, rolling pin and/or blender as an alternative),” he says. Season your bird with the spice mix and roast. When you remove from the oven, drizzle with EVOO, lemon juice, honey, Maldon salt, and fennel pollen.

Smoky, Herbal Spiced Rub

“This is a great rub recipe with bold flavors to really enhance your chicken. We always make sure to toast off our peppercorn and fennel seed first to extract their oils,” says Chef Jimmy Bannos Jr. of The Purple Pig in Chicago. The coriander gives a nice earthy note, the smoked paprika gives the smallest touch of heat and smokiness, and the fennel and oregano give some sweet herbal notes.

Pull your chicken out the fridge and season well with the spice rub (if you can marinate overnight, the better). Preheat oven to 375F. If your cut is skin-on, sear skin side hard in a pan with a tablespoon of oil and then place it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165F.

Additional reporting by Phillip Rhodes

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