This Dry Rub BBQ Chicken Breast is so easy to prepare in large batches, and is perfect for storing in the freezer! I typically make this chicken in a smoker, but I’ve also tested it in the oven, and it still comes out great. The chicken breast is coated in a simple brown sugar spice rub, then slow roasted/smoked, resulting in pieces with a tough outer bark and tender center.
After preparing, the cooked chicken can be stored in the freezer and defrosted later for use in sandwiches, salads, pasta, or whatever you can think of! My favorite way to use this chicken is in these BBQ Chicken Melts (aka loaded grilled cheese sandwiches)! I’ll be adding more recipes to the site that call for this chicken in the future.
Smoking this chicken in a smoker is my suggested preparation, but you can also prepare it in the oven if you don’t have a smoker. Please note, the flavor will not be quite as interesting when prepared in the oven.
If you don’t have a smoker, but are considering buying one, I can highly recommend my Traeger Pro Series 780 Pellet Smoker. It comes with a hefty price tag, but will last a very long time and is packed with awesome features. The wifi capability is pretty incredible, you can monitor and control the temp of the smoker from your phone, which has come in handy so many times! Pellet smokers are a great option for beginner’s because they’re very simple and easy to operate.
Some people may argue that smoked chicken breast comes out dry, but I haven’t had that issue with this chicken, in fact it’s one of my new favorite things to smoke! Just make sure you’re monitoring the internal temp, so it doesn’t get overcooked. I originally developed this recipe as an alternative to pulled pork, to make sure I had an option for my friend who doesn’t eat pork, but I was blown away with how much I liked this recipe. Now I make some to stock up my freezer almost every time I run my smoker. I love to pull this cooked chicken out on a busy weeknight for a super quick meal.
Key Tips – Dry Rub BBQ Chicken Breast
Monitor the internal temp with a meat thermometer.
- It’s very important to make sure you don’t overcook the chicken, so for best results, I strongly recommend investing in a meat thermometer. Meat thermometers are often listed as one of the best small things you can buy to significantly upgrade your cooking, and they can be as cheap as ~$10.
- The best option is to use a meat thermometer that has multiple probes, sticking them into chicken breasts in different locations in the smoker/oven. I have this multi-probe meat thermometer, and I love it! This one is ideal for use in the smoker, because you can monitor the temps from a connected app while you’re away from the grill.
- If you want to save some $, I also recommend this single probe meat thermometer, which usually runs about $20, or this instant read meat thermometer, which is the cheapest option (usually around $10). Instant read thermometers will help you confirm that the meat is cooked through, but they won’t be able to alert you when your meat has reached the proper temp.
Stock up your freezer.
- This recipe is so easy to make in bulk, and I love to pack it up in freezer packs for easy meals another day. Pretty much every time I run my smoker, I’m throwing some of this chicken on to replenish my supply.
- You can package the chicken in freezer safe zip bags, but the best option is to use a vacuum sealer. I absolutely love my vacuum sealer and I use it all the time. I have this (surprisingly affordable) Anova brand vacuum sealer. I also recommend these vacuum bags!
Make a smaller batch, if desired.
- You don’t need to make such a large batch, you can easily cut the dry rub recipe in half, or save extra dry rub for another time, just store it in an airtight container at room temp.
Bump up the spice.
- If desired, you can make this recipe a little spicy by adding more chili powder, or using a particularly hot chili powder. As written, the chicken will not be spicy.
Stock up when you find chicken breast on sale!
- I love to make this recipe when I find a good sale on chicken breast. Since it lasts for a long time in the freezer, stocking up when you find a sale is the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
Store extra dry rub for later.
- This dry rub recipe can be made in bulk and stored in an airtight container at room temp, along with your other pantry ingredients. I like to make a jumbo (4X) batch of it, then it’s ready to go when I need it! This dry rub is also perfect for pulled pork.
Dietary Restrictions – Dry Rub BBQ Chicken Breast
This dish is naturally Dairy-Free!
This dish is naturally Gluten-Free!
A Note On Serving Sizes
Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. I consider “one serving” of this to be about 6 oz of cooked chicken (which is about 8 oz of raw chicken). This may be a rather large serving size for some people. There are about 315 calories in one 6 oz portion.
Dry Rub BBQ Chicken
- 10 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or make a smaller batch)
- Begin preheating a smoker or the oven to 250° F. If preparing in the oven, line a baking sheet with foil then place a wire rack on it, lightly spray with oil (will need 2X if cooking 10 lbs of chicken).
- Mix together all of the dry rub ingredients and set aside.
- Trim any excess fat off the chicken breasts, then dust them with the dry rub. Use clean hands to rub the dry rub into the meat, flip and repeat with the other side, so the chicken is fully coated. The dry rub should stick to the meat without needing any additional binders.
- Place the chicken breast in the smoker or oven and cook until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165° F in the thickest portion. Use a leave-in meat thermometer to monitor the temperature, if you have one. For large breasts, this should take 1.5 to 2.5 hours in an oven or a smoker. If you don’t have a meat thermometer available, slice into one of the breasts to make sure it’s cooked through.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, cut the breasts into small cubes on a large cutting board and gently shred the meat. The breasts should have a tough outer skin and tender, juicy center.
- Separate into the portions you expect to use at a time (I use 10-12 oz per meal for two adults). Seal these portions in a freezer-safe zip bag with the air pressed out, or vacuum seal if you’re able to. Place the packets in the freezer until ready to use.
- Place the sealed bag of frozen chicken in a bowl of cool water, let it sit until it's mostly defrosted, about 20 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a microwave safe container and warm in the microwave, tossing every 30 seconds, until heated through.
- There are endless possibilities for what you can add this chicken to! I hope to add some recipes using this chicken to the site, but in the meantime here are my favorite uses: loaded grilled cheese sandwiches, quesadillas, on pizza, on pasta, on salads, and in soup!
Try this chicken in:
- My favorite BBQ Chicken Melts!
- More recipes that use this chicken are coming soon!
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