How To Get Dry Rub Seasoning To Stick To Chicken?

My family is an active bunch, and I struggle to cook healthy meals in a quantity that satisfies them and provides leftovers that I can use for lunch the following day. Chicken is one of my favorite proteins as it’s relatively inexpensive and versatile, meeting both the above criteria. However, I sometimes struggle to get my seasoning to stick to the meat.

The best thing for making seasoning stick to chicken is oil. Olive oil or any other vegetable oils can be used interchangeably. Melted butter, mayonnaise, or mustard would be an acceptable substitute for oil. But be aware that your choice may influence the taste of your meat.

how to make seasoning stick to chicken

While the above binding agents work well in terms of helping our seasoning stick to the chicken, there are a few more tricks & tips that can help you BBQ like a boss! Keep reading for more information and some killer seasoning recipes!

What Helps Seasoning Stick To Chicken?

The best thing to help the seasoning stick to the chicken is oil. We’re not talking about the kind of oil used to operate a vehicle, but cooking oil that you likely already have in your kitchen pantry. 

There are a couple of other options we’ll cover later, but I find oil the best as it doesn’t interfere with the flavor of the chicken & the seasoning.

I use extra virgin olive oil, but if you don’t have olive oil, you can use grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, or other vegetable oil. Oil, known as a binder, helps the seasoning stick to the meat, so it is less likely to come off during the cooking process. 

Do You Put Oil On Chicken Before Seasoning?

putting oil on chicken before seasoning

Because we are using the oil to ensure that the seasoning adheres to the surface of the meat, we would put the oil on first. If you put the seasoning on before the oil, the oil will probably wash it off.  

Pour an amount similar to the size of a coin into your hand and thoroughly rub the whole chicken carcass or the chicken pieces you are seasoning. 

Don’t use too much, as if the oil is dripping off the carcass or chicken pieces; it will take the seasoning with it.

Do You Add Seasoning On Chicken Before Or After Cooking?

Chicken is the kind of meat that benefits from plenty of seasoning. Therefore, you should season the meat before cooking. Also, do not forget to season the inside of the cavity if you are BBQing a whole chicken.  

I like to take out the meat and season it again once or twice during cooking. If you follow this method, you shouldn’t need to season the meat after cooking.

How Long Should You Leave Seasoning To Sit On Chicken?

The longer the seasoning or dry rub sits on the chicken, the more flavourful the cooked meat. Leave the chicken standing with the seasoning for at least 15 – 30 minutes. 

Letting it stand for a few hours or even overnight in the fridge will make for a better taste. But no more than 24 hours, otherwise it may become too salty. 

What Should I Season My Chicken With?

Many types of seasoning go well with chicken, and there are many pre-blended chicken seasoning mixes that you can buy in stores. I like to mix my seasoning, so I have included a few recipes that I recommend using common spices found in most kitchens.

Recipe 1: General Chicken Seasoning

This seasoning is an excellent all-purpose seasoning that uses herbs and spices that most people already have in their cupboards. It is great for fussy eaters as it is not too strong or spicy and has a pleasant savory taste.

  • one teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • one teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • one teaspoon garlic powder
  • one teaspoon onion powder
  • one teaspoon dried thyme
  • one teaspoon dried basil
  • one teaspoon dried rosemary
  • one teaspoon dried parsley

Recipe 2: Smokey Chicken Seasoning

This seasoning works exceptionally well if you smoke the BBQ’s meat and also complements pork. You can increase or reduce the chili powder according to your personal preferences.

  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • One teaspoon cumin
  • One teaspoon dried thyme
  • One teaspoon mustard powder
  • One teaspoon dried basil
  • One teaspoon ground pepper
  • One teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • One teaspoon salt
  • One teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar

Recipe 3: Cajun Rub

The Cajun rub can be pretty peppery, but you can reduce or increase the pepper as you prefer. Use any type of peppers you like, even ghost peppers, which will make it nice and spicy. 

This rub also works well with pork, and I like to serve it with a side of sweet potato.

  • One teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • One teaspoon white pepper
  • One teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One teaspoon dried thyme
  • One teaspoon dried origanum
  • One teaspoon brown sugar
  • One teaspoon paprika
  • One teaspoon garlic powder

Recipe 4: Basic Dry Rub

If you don’t have time and are looking for something quick & straightforward yet tasty, this recipe is for you. You only need four ingredients, and you get a tremendous basic rub that works well on any white meat!

  • Four tablespoons mustard powder
  • Two teaspoons paprika
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • One teaspoon dried thyme

How To Apply Dry Rub To Chicken

We often refer to seasoning mixed from various spices as a “dry rub.” The idea is to rub the seasoning into the meat you are trying to season. 

If done with an efficient binding agent, or something that helps the seasoning stick to the flesh, a dry rub can give the meat a wonderful flavor.

It’s important to pat the skin of the chicken dry first with a paper towel to ensure that the oil sticks properly. It may seem as if leaving the meat a bit damp might help the seasoning stick, however as soon as it begins to cook, the water will evaporate, allowing the seasoning to fall off.

Wash your hands often while handling the chicken and place it in a baking dish while seasoning it to prevent cross-contamination.

If you are not worried about time, you can leave the chicken carcass or pieces uncovered in its baking dish in the refrigerator for an hour or two to let the skin’s natural moisture evaporate off the skin’s surface. 

Doing this ensures that the oil, or binding agent, sticks better to the skin or flesh of the chicken.

Next, drizzle a small amount of oil into your hand and massage over the entire surface of the chicken or chicken pieces. The oil serves several purposes. It assists the seasoning stick to the meat, keeps the chicken moist, and makes the skin crisp up nicely in the BBQ. The skin should feel slick to the touch, but the oil should not be dripping off the chicken.

Rewash your hands, and then, using a clean metal spoon, sprinkle the dry rub over the chicken. 

Next, massage the seasoning into the skin and flesh of the chicken. Once again, there is a reason it is called a dry rub. Rubbing the seasoning into the skin or flesh of the meat will help it stick and ensure that it retains the flavor.

Cover the baking dish with your seasoned chicken and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before cooking. It’s even better if you can refrigerate overnight and BBQ the next day as it allows the meat time to absorb the flavors of the seasoning.

If I am BBQing my chicken in a gas BBQ, I like to cover it until it’s almost done in order to keep it moist. 

Then uncover for the last twenty to thirty minutes of the cooking time, so it will brown and crisp up.

Final Word

A well-seasoned chicken is the perfect meal and makes yummy leftovers for use on sandwiches or in wraps for the next day. I have even used leftover chicken for soup, pasta, and chicken a la king. 

The trick is to ensure the seasoning sticks, so your chicken is a flavorful addition to any meal!

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