Smoky Sweet Chicken Rub

Smoky Sweet Poultry Rub | Savvy Eats

I’ve written a few times about my quest to find the perfect roast chicken recipe. I know how to cook a whole chicken without drying it out, sure (leave the skin on, cook it to 165F, not 175F – still perfectly safe, but not overcooked – and let it rest before carving). But I couldn’t find a way to make it truly flavorful. Nothing I did seemed to convey the flavors of whatever herbs or citrus or other flavoring agents to the chicken itself, just the skin. Until I started using the Zuni Cafe method of cooking chicken (which Deb shared here, years ago). This high-heat, cast-iron pan method has been reliably giving me flavorful and juicy roast chicken for months now, and I actually feel like the herbs and spices I use on the outside are making a difference now.

While the Zuni Cafe roasted chicken is plenty tasty on its own, sometimes I want to mix it up. So I keep a jar of this smoky and sweet chicken rub on hand, and use it in place of the salt and pepper the original chicken recipe calls for. Because it has so many other spices in it, I use it much more liberally than I would plain salt. More rub = more flavor, and you don’t have to worry about over-salting your chicken with this rub!

FYI: While the Zuni Cafe recipe says you should season the chicken 1-3 days in advance, sometimes I forget to get that started. The chicken is still delicious even if you don’t do the seasoning until 30 minutes before you start roasting the bird! Just so you know.

Smoky Sweet Chicken Rub

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Yield: About 3/4 cup

Smoky Sweet Chicken Rub

Though this rub is meant for poultry, it would also be excellent sprinkled over roasted vegetables.


  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander


  1. Stir all ingredients together and store in an airtight jar. Sprinkle liberally over poultry before and/or after cooking.

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  1. says

    I pretty much never roast an entire chicken because like you it can be a little bland. Sure a juicy piece with crisp skin is great but after that third or fourth bite? Bland. Love this rub, I can see using it on cut up chicken and smoking it.