Seasoning Grilled Chicken

Enhance the flavor of your grilled chicken for your next barbecue using this easy dry rub mix that seasons your bird to perfection. You’ll instantly infuse that juicy meat with flavor without marinating.

Create a fast and healthy barbecue meal. While marinated chicken can take hours, this easy seasoning rub I like to use is easy to prepare and requires no extra time, unlike my favorite grilled chicken marinade. This BBQ chicken recipe uses a mix of colorful and bold spices, such as cumin, paprika, onion, garlic, salt, coriander, and black pepper, to enhance the chicken’s flavor.

And if there’s any seasoning mix left over, I store it for later use. Try this on drumsticks, chicken leg, chicken thigh pieces, and grilled chicken wings as well. The mix is very versatile, so you can use it on other kinds of meat or veggies to give them an extra kick. So get your grill fired up and ready because juicy and tender BBQ chicken is only a few minutes away!

grilled chicken

The Tastiest Seasoning for Grilled Chicken

Making different blends of spices is one thing I genuinely enjoy playing around with in the kitchen. And when it came to this spice recipe, I decided to create a season base that’s Latin-inspired, featuring:

  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Cumin
  • Paprika (smoked or sweet)
  • Coriander
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder

Salt and pepper work as a base in many seasoning mixtures, adding a mildly spicy and essential savory element. Salt was once so popular that it was used as currency as it was valued for its preservative qualities and ability to add flavor to any meal.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Moorish merchants at one time regularly attributed salt with the same value per ounce as gold. In fact, in Ethiopia’s Danakil Plains, there are still nomads who trade in salt.

Cumin is another fun spice to use. It has an umami, nutty, and bitter flavor, while the coriander contributes a sweet, lemony flavor with floral notes. Meanwhile, the onion and garlic powder give your mix a roasted allium flavor instead of intense and raw.

And with this recipe, you’ll make about double the seasoning needed. But you can use as much or little as you’d like or save a bit of time and money for the next time you grill chicken. And you can also turn this recipe into a blackening mix by adding chili powder which offers extra heat and brown sugar for a touch of sweetness.

Oiling Your Chicken Before Grilling

One step before putting your chicken on the grill is rubbing it with no oil. You want to use an oil with a higher smoke point and neutral flavor. I like using avocado and olive oil. Oiling helps keep your meat from sticking to your grill plates. Another great benefit is how the oil will dissolve into the chicken, which releases additional fat-soluble flavor compounds in the mix that further enhances the meat’s flavor.

Additionally, oil gives your spice rub a protective layer, reducing how much it will burn. Regarding how much oil you should use, you need around half to 1 teaspoon per side. You can also do this for baked chicken breast.

The Best Way to Grill Chicken

Preheat your grill to guarantee you get those fantastic grill marks on your chicken. I prefer the medium-high setting, which is between 400-500ºF (204-232ºC). When cooking on a gas grill, make sure you have one burner turned off to produce indirect heat allowing thicker pieces to finish cooking without burning the surface.

It’s best to set up a dual-zone that uses indirect and direct heat when cooking on a charcoal grill. Before you throw on your chicken, you want to ensure your grates are clean and well-greased with oil.

Start by placing your chicken in the direct heat zone. I usually gently press the meat down into the grill to ensure good contact on the grates, which gives the meat great color. I also close the lid, which reduces heat loss while ensuring even cooking for all the pieces via dry heat.

How Long You Should Grill Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

The cook time for chicken breast mostly depends on the chicken’s thickness and if it’s cooked whole or in cutlets. Typically, it takes around 5-8 minutes per side for thicker pieces to cook, while about 3-5 minutes for thinner pieces. Dark meat, such as legs, grilled chicken thighs, and wings, needs a couple of extra minutes because it contains more fat and connective tissue.

If you need to, you can finish cooking your chicken using the indirect heat zone of your grill until it’s fully cooked. The zone should be between 160-165ºF(71-74ºC). Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes, then serve. Allowing it to rest promotes carryover cooking while giving the savory juices time to redistribute throughout the meat.

Ideas for Using Grilled Chicken

season chicken to grill

  • Pulled Chicken Nachos
  • Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Sandwich
  • Grilled Chicken Salad
  • Pizza with BBQ Grilled Chicken
  • Chicken Alfredo Pasta
  • Loaded Baked Potatoes with BBQ Chicken
  • Chicken Fajita Egg Scramble

Serve Grilled Chicken With

  • Potato Salad
  • Lemon juice
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Soy Sauce
  • Vinegar Coleslaw
  • Oven-Roasted Zucchini Strips
  • Cornbread
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Macaroni Salad
  • Traditional Coleslaw
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts


Can I Use a Grill Pan to Cook the Chicken?

Absolutely! A grill pan is an excellent option if you need to cook on a stovetop. First, oil the grill pan to prevent sticking, then heat medium-high. Cook your chicken breasts for about 3-5 minutes per side, or a bit longer, depending on thickness. If you need to, reduce the flame to medium after you flip over thicker pieces to allow them to cook more slowly.

How Long Should I Cook Grilled Chicken?

The length of time you should cook grilled chicken depends on the chicken piece and its thickness. For example, dark, light, and bone-in pieces have different cook times. Boneless chicken breasts can take about 10-16 minutes on medium-high heat. Bone-in thighs and legs take about 20-30 minutes, Drumsticks 16-24 minutes, and wings 16-22 minutes.

How Can I Make Diamond Marks on My Grilled Chicken

The trick to charring easy grilled chicken breast without drying it out is to ensure your grill is hot enough. You’ll want to set the chicken at a 45-degree angle on the grate (smooth side down) with the ends turned at 4 and 10 o’clock. After about 2-3 minutes, char marks should form. Once you have your char marks, turn your chicken 45 degrees clockwise to the 8 and 2 o’clock position to complete your diamond pattern. Allow the meat to sear for another 2-3 minutes before flipping to finish cooking.

Picking the Right Spices for Seasoning Grilled Meats

grilled chicken seasoning

When using dry rubs on the best grilled chicken, you can season the meat as soon as you pull it out of the fridge. However, you will want to allow the chicken’s temperature to come down to room temperature before you put it on the grill. When adding rub to chicken, the amount you use will largely depend on how much salt is in the mix. If the mix contains a to of salt, you want only lightly to coat all sides of the chicken, and if it has lower salt content, you can be more liberal in the seasoning’s application.

As for spice pairings, the general rule of thumb for meats such as pork, lamb, beef, and poultry is using prices such as onion, garlic, pepper (green, white, black), chilies, paprika, coriander, cumin, oregano, thyme, ginger, bay leaf, rosemary, and mustard.

Sage is also an excellent seasoning for poultry, tarragon, and lemon peel. Tarragon is impressive on chicken as it has a sweet herbal flavor. And, when it comes to chicken breasts, it’s one of the easiest meats to season since it’s so versatile and takes well to all kinds of spices. You would be hard-pressed to think of a spice that would not work with chicken.

However, when it comes to grilling, some spices work better. Spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika contain oil-soluble flavor compounds that are ideal for grilling. When these flavor compounds come into contact with olive oil, they disperse and dissolve better. Also, cooking using dry heat allows the spices to bloom and intensifies the flavor of the seasoning. If the heat is too high, it can char the seasoning, which can be desirable for BBQ to a certain extent.

grilled bbq chicken

grilled chicken

Our Best Grilled Chicken Recipe

You need to try this amazing recipe!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 273 kcal


  • 1 Instant-read thermometer
  • 1 Small-medium-sized bowl (for seasoning mixture)
  • 1 Tsp measuring spoon or cup
  • 1 Tbsp measuring spoon or cup
  • 1 Baking pan or tray (for raw chicken)
  • 1 Baking pan or tray (for cooked chicken)


  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Paprika smoked or sweet
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Coriander.
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts


  • Preheat Grill - Preheat your grill by setting it to medium-high until it reaches 400-450ºF (204-232ºC).
  • Prep Grates - Carefully clean and grease the grill grates using oil. Leave one burner turned off to create an indirect cooking zone.
  • Mix Seasoning - Using a small-medium bowl, combine cumin, salt, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, coriander, and black pepper.
  • Chicken Preparation - Season the meat evenly using the spice mixture. Use around ½ tsp per side. For storage, use an airtight container. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil per side, rubbing the chicken to ensure an even coat.
  • Grilling the Chicken - Set the chicken in the direct heat section of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 5-8 minutes before flipping. Then cook an additional 5-8 minutes or more based on thickness. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160-165ºF (71-74ºC).To brown quickly, remove the chicken from direct heat to the indirect heat area of the grill to finish cooking.
  • Serving - Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it or serving.


I am cooking Other Chicken Pieces on the Grill: Thighs (10 to 15 minutes on each side), drumsticks (8 to 12 minutes on each side, and wings (8 to 12 minutes on each side).
How to Use a Grill Pan: Heat your pan using medium-high heat. Then grease your pan using avocado or olive to prevent sticking. Cook chicken for about 3-8 minutes per side or until it reaches an internal temperature of 160-165ºF (71-74ºC). With thicker pieces, reduce the cooking heat to medium after turning over.
Storage: Store your grilled chicken in an airtight container for five days. You can also freeze inside a freezer bag for up to 6 months. You can store leftover seasoning inside a container for no longer than one month.
Reheating Grilled Chicken: Since thicker pieces of meat can take more time to heat up in the center, try heating your chicken in the microwave for 30 seconds until the center is hot enough. You can then throw it on the grill again, fry it in a pan for 1-3 minutes to recapture that crispy grilled texture, or eat it as is.
Making it Whole30: Use sea salt and extra-virgin olive oil.


Calories: 273kcalProtein: 45gFat: 1gCholesterol: 145mg
Keyword grilled chicken recipe, grilled chicken seasoning, seasoning for grilled chicken
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
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