Dry-Rub BBQ Chicken

Dry-Rub BBQ Chicken
Lauren Volo © 2020

I grew up in Mississippi, so barbecue was a big part of my life. There was pulled pork and beef brisket, sure, but my favorite was the barbecued chicken—complete with sweet baked beans, sharp, mustardy coleslaw, and a slice of white bread—that my local baseball team would sell each spring to raise money for the team. My boyfriend, who is also from the South, and I bonded over barbecue when we first met. For us, it’s become a special meal we indulge in on occasion when we eat out, particularly on Valentine’s Day, when everyone else is jockeying for a table at a white-tablecloth restaurant. Whenever we bring the tradition inside, though, I always make the closest thing I can to those baseball fundraiser chickens: a spatchcocked chicken rubbed with tons of spices like they do in Memphis. The dry rub, mixed with butter for extra richness and to help tame all the spices, has time to work its way into the skin and meat thanks to a one-hour rest in the fridge, and then again as an extra hit of crunchy flavor sprinkled on after cooking.


  • 1 whole chicken (3½–4 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ÂĽ teaspoon cayenne
  • ÂĽ teaspoon ground fennel seeds (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • Sliced white bread, sweet baked beans, and mustardy coleslaw


  1. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Working on a large cutting board, use kitchen shears to cut along each side of the chicken’s backbone, then remove the backbone. Turn the chicken breast side up and press on the breast bone to flatten the chicken.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the salt, brown sugar, paprika, oregano, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, mustard powder, cumin, cayenne, and fennel seeds, if using. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the dry rub into a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Pour the butter into the larger bowl of dry rub and stir to combine, then use your hands to rub the spiced butter all over the skin of the chicken. Transfer the chicken, skin side up, to the prepared baking sheet on top of the wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  6. Roast the chicken in the oven until golden brown and crisp, and until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the breast meat reads 160°F, about 1 hour.
  7. Transfer the chicken to a clean wire rack set on another rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle with the reserved dry rub. Tent loosely with foil and let stand for 15 minutes, then carve.
  8. Serve the chicken hot with sliced bread, baked beans, and coleslaw alongside.

Reprinted with permission from Tasty Pride: 75 Recipes and Stories from the Queer Food Community by Jesse Szewczyk and BuzzFeed's Tasty, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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