Vertically Grilled Whole Chicken with Sweet & Spicy BBQ Rub

July/August 2014

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This sweet and spicy barbecue rub recipe for chicken performs the double duty of giving chicken a burst of flavor while also creating a pleasant crust. The rub recipe makes enough to prepare 2 pounds of boneless chicken or 4 pounds of bone-in chicken, but you can easily double or triple the recipe and store the extra in an airtight container for up to 3 months so you can have it on hand throughout the grilling season.

Vertically Grilled Whole Chicken with Sweet & Spicy BBQ Rub

Makes: 6 servings

Serving Size: 3-4 oz.

Active Time:

Total Time:

Equipment: Vertical grilling rack


Dry Rub

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • 1 4- to 4 1/2-pound chicken


  1. To prepare rub: Combine chili powder, brown sugar, cumin, salt, paprika, garlic powder, ginger and cayenne in a small bowl.
  2. To season chicken: Remove giblets from chicken and trim any excess skin and fat. Loosen the skin over the breast and thigh meat. Sprinkle and pat the dry rub under and over the skin of the chicken. Let stand for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes before grilling.
  3. To grill chicken: Preheat a gas grill to medium or build a two-zone fire (coals on one side of the grill) in a charcoal grill and let it burn down to medium heat (about 400°F).
  4. Hold the chicken upright and fit the opening of the cavity over a vertical grilling rack.
  5. If using a gas grill, turn off part of the grill (leaving 1 to 2 burners lit, depending on your grill). Place the chicken on the grill rack over the unlit part. Close the lid and grill until the chicken is very tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165°F, 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. (If using a charcoal grill, add 10 coals after the first 30 minutes to maintain the heat.) Transfer the chicken to a clean cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Store the rub, airtight, for up to 1 month.


Per serving: 232 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 98 mg cholesterol; 5 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 3 g total sugars; 33 g protein; 1 g fiber; 722 mg sodium; 336 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (21% daily value), Zinc (16% dv)

Carbohydrate Servings: 0

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