Not only is chicken inexpensive, packed with nutrients, and less controversial compared to red meat, it’s also quick to cook and is quite versatile. There are so many chicken recipes out there that you can effortlessly include in your meal plans. And if you’re a fan of grilling, know that with the simplest spices for grilled chicken, whether you’re doing it indoors or outdoors, you can grill chicken as often as you want to!
But before we go into the list of spices for grilled chicken, first thing’s first. Choosing the cut. You can opt for white meat which is the part with less fat and more protein like the breast, or go for dark meat which is the parts with more flavor and doesn’t dry out as quickly as the legs or thigh part. And of course, you should take time to choose quality chicken from your grocer or local butcher shop. You can also try buying fresh chicken online where you can have better access to information about the source of the meat you’re buying.
As mentioned previously, chicken is less controversial compared with other meats. However, for those who are still concerned about consuming chicken meat and still want to go for one that is not just healthier in every sense of the word but is also environmentally friendly, then there are chicken alternatives. We now have many plant-based chickens out there that actually taste good and would also surely make even non-vegans happy.
They say nailing a simple dish can get tricky sometimes because it’s so easy and simple that there’s no room for mess-ups. When it comes to grilled chicken, though, it would seem that more often than not, it’s the actually grilling that many find hard to perfect. Because flavoring the meat itself is quite simple. You can start from a simple spice combination for a grilled chicken rub and work your way from there as you experiment with more interesting spices.
To ace grilling chicken, here are a few tips.
First off, prepare your grill. For grilling aficionados, they know that keeping the grill clean is a must especially when you have the really good ones or those smoker-grill combo types. For most of us who occasionally just grill – well, yes please do clean the grill as well. Not only will cleaning prolong your equipment’s longevity but it will also help ensure your food is safe from any kind of food contamination.
Before you start grilling, don’t forget to preheat. Remember to oil your grill grates as well before you start adding your chicken. This will prevent your food from sticking. You’ll fair well with medium heat – you can still get a good sear without burning your chicken. If you’re using a charcoal grill, know which area of the grill is on maximum heat and designate an area with a lower level of fire to have better control once you start grilling.
Secondly, know when to flip. Depending on the cut of meat you are grilling, the time to flip of course varies. Chicken drumsticks, for instance, will take a good 8 minutes before you start flipping, chicken breast on the other hand can be flipped after 6-8 minutes. If you’re a newbie at grilling, it’s best to follow the time indicated in the recipe. Once you get used to it, you’ll be able to tell by touching it or simply by eyeing it, if it’s ready for flipping.
And worry not, because the chicken will pretty much tell you when it’s ready to be flipped. If the grill is properly preheated and oiled, the chicken will naturally release itself from the grill and should be easily flipped. If it’s sticking or feels like it’s stuck, give it a bit more time – say about 30 more seconds to a minute or two.
Thirdly, cover your grill. Covering your grill will not only speed up the cooking time but will also ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly. It will also prevent your chicken from drying out. You’ll also have fewer flare-ups because you’re basically cutting off oxygen when you put down that lid.
If your grill doesn’t have a lid, you can improvise by using a disposable foil pan and simply turning it upside down to cover your chicken. If you have an aluminum basin, then simply use it for cover. Just be careful in lifting these covers up to check your chicken. Watch out for the steam!
Fourthly, use a thermometer. Don’t be hesitant about using a thermometer if you really want to make sure about your chicken’s doneness. For grilled chicken to be safe for consumption, it should have a safe temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. And to ensure you’re getting an accurate reading, insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone.
If you don’t have a thermometer, worry not. You can simply make a cut into a thick piece so that you can have a peek inside. It's cooked already if the juice runs clear and the meat is already opaque and is no longer translucent.
And lastly but equally important as well, let it rest. Just like when grilling pork, beef, or what have you, it’s important that you let it rest. You have to give it time to redistribute the moisture back throughout the meat. This will ensure that your chicken is moist and that you’ll be able to enjoy its flavor more – you know, the flavor that you work hard for. You wouldn’t want to let it drain and go to waste just because you cut early and couldn’t wait for a few minutes more.
About five minutes for chicken breasts should do the trick. For bigger cuts, especially when it’s butterfly chicken – it will take about 20 minutes. Keep in mind that internal temperature continues to rise even after cooking. So, make sure you take that into consideration as well since you don’t want to overcook your chicken either.
Feeling confident now to grill some chicken?
Alrighty then, it’s time to get your spices together for the ultimate grilled chicken rub. Here’s a list of the best spices for grilled chicken that you can mix to create your own perfect seasoning blend. See how these spices combinations actually work by giving the accompanying recipes a try.
Table of Contents
Spices for Grilled Chicken
Turmeric powder is made from grounded dried turmeric rhizomes. Its active ingredient, curcumin, is known for its anti-inflammatory property. It’s also rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and vitamin B6.
This Malaysian grilled turmeric chicken called Ayam Panggang Kunyit is not only super simple (only five ingredients) but it’s also delicious and aromatic at the same time. Careful though when working with turmeric powder, it can leave stains so make sure you put on your apron.
Allspice is the dried berries of the plant Pimenta dioica. This spice is rich in plant compounds that may help in relieving pain, increasing circulation, improving mood, eliminating fungal infections, reducing inflammation, and lowering blood pressure.
If you want grilled chicken prepared Mediterranean-style, then this recipe is for you. In addition to the amazing spice combination, the recipe also includes dill Greek yogurt sauce which pretty much sealed the deal here!
Cumin seeds came from a flowering plant in the family Apiaceae. It’s a good source of magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. It’s good for improving digestion and boosting memory.
If you’re not a fan of Grilled Tandoori Chicken yet, then perhaps you’ll be after trying this one. It’s packed with all the right Indian flavors, juicy, and perfectly tender. And if you’re up for it, it’s best paired with jeera rice.
Mustard seeds came from various mustard plants. These seeds are usually about 1-2 millimeters in diameter. It’s rich in fiber, magnesium, manganese, and selenium. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can make this grilled chicken rub in big batches and have them ready whenever you feel like grilling. You can opt for chicken breast if you prefer white meat and if you’re really after that lean protein. But of course, if you love the more flavorful parts, try chicken thighs!
Paprika is made from grounded dried red peppers. It contains calcium, potassium, folate, vitamin A, and phosphorus. Paprika can aid in building strong teeth, bones, and muscles. Its antioxidants content can help in alleviating gas, boosting the immune system, and reducing the risk of cancer and heart diseases.
This recipe, Peruvian-style grilled chicken, involves grilling a whole butterflied chicken – so it’s slow-cooked to ensure it’s evenly cooked. Of course, aside from the marinade, nailing the green sauce is equally important as well, after all, it’s Peruvian chicken!
Crushed red pepper
Crushed red pepper is made from different types of capsicum peppers. It’s known for its spicy heat and capsaicin content. It also has carotenoids, fiber, and vitamins A, B6, and C. Its antioxidants content may help in warding off heart diseases and cancer.
Worry not because this spicy-hot vinegar marinade for the Lexington-style Grilled Chicken is not overly spicy. It got enough crushed red pepper to balance out the tartness from the cider vinegar and sweetness from brown sugar. But of course, you can also adjust accordingly if you’re really not up for spicy foods.
Italian seasoning is a blend of herbs that usually contains basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, and oregano. Depending on the amounts of herbs in the blend, Italian seasoning contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
What’s so great about grilled chicken breast is that they cook really fast, and if done properly you can enjoy juicy and tender chicken in just under 30 minutes. The marinade for this recipe is highlighted with the addition of Italian seasoning which gives the dish a welcoming touch of freshness.
Lemongrass is an herb that came from a tropical plant that is native to Southeast Asia. It contains antibacterial and antifungal properties in addition to other natural plant compounds with anti-inflammatory effects. It’s actually used traditionally to relieve pain and reduce fever.
This Thai grilled chicken called Gai Yan is no doubt flavor-packed. The marinade itself will make you look forward to it. Not to mention that it also includes a wonderful dipping sauce recipe called nam jim jaew.
Chinese five-spice is a spice blend that usually contains cloves, star anise, cinnamon, fennel, and Sichuan pepper. It’s rich in antioxidants and minerals like iron, copper, and manganese. It also contains essential oils like vanillin and acetyl eugenol. Chinese five-spice has antioxidant, antiseptic, and anti-diabetic properties.
Here is another super simple grilled chicken dish, with just five ingredients, you’re already set to enjoy an awesome grilled chicken dinner! Sometimes, it really doesn’t take much to make a great-tasting dish. The key really is knowing how to nail the right spice combination.
Chives came from a flowering plant in the family Amaryllidaceae. It’s particularly rich in vitamin C, riboflavin, potassium, vitamin A, iron, thiamin, and beta carotene. It may help in preventing fever and the common cold, increasing blood count, maintaining blood pressure, and boosting the immune system.
As the name suggests, Five-herb Grilled Chicken is herb-heavy – and for good reasons! It’s absolutely delicious especially if you give it time to really marinate. The herb pesto is used both for the marinade and for the sauce as well.
Garlic powder is made from grounded dehydrated garlic. It contains vitamin C, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, sodium, protein, and dietary fiber. Its antioxidants content helps in strengthening the immune system, preventing flu and bacterial infections, and reducing the risk of contracting colds and other infections.
This recipe used chicken breast but of course, you can also use thigh parts if you’re more of the dark meat type. Simply adjust the cooking time. Other than that, you’ll basically get the same chicken goodness with this grilled chicken rub whatever chicken part you chose to use.