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Spice Rub for Smoked Chicken (Dry Brine Rub)

This rub for smoked chicken is easy to make, is packed with flavor, and it will keep your meat moist and tender. It's my go-to recipe for this Whole Smoked Chicken Recipe, and it's also incredible on smoked wings, breasts, chicken legs and more. The rub acts like a dry brine, drawing in moisture to keep the meat moist while smoking. The olive oil creates deliciously crispy skin. The cayenne give the chicken skin a delicious spicy kick, but you can omit it or reduce the quantity if you prefer.
Prep Time5 minutes
Total Time5 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken rub, rub for smoked chicken, spice rub for chicken
Servings: 1 whole chicken


  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (I recommend Diamond Crystal brand)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion (or onion powder)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  • In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.


Do Ahead: You can make the rub without the olive oil up to 3 weeks in advance—store it in an airtight container or jar. Add the olive oil right before using.
  • You can cook the chicken on a smoker or pellet grill (such as a Traeger), or you can grill the chicken on a gas grill or charcoal grill! If using a smoker, you can use any kind of wood chips or pellets.
  • One of the great things about this chicken dry rub recipe is that it allows you to skip the wet brine (water brine) step.
  • You can make this homemade dry rub up to 3 weeks ahead without the olive oil (store it in an airtight container or glass jar). Add the oil before using.