My Ultimate BBQ Rub (& how to use it)

16 June 2024 Dairy Free Gluten Free
This rub earned the title of Summer Pantry Staple almost a decade ago in my kitchen and has never fallen from its no 1 position. Now that’s saying something. So I figured it was finally time for me to share it with you…..

The beginning of BBQ season is always announced by ceremoniously mixing up a large jar of this rub and keeping it in the cupboard ready to have on hand to sprinkle on chicken, salmon, lamb or beef of any cut all summer long, working its magic as the coals heat up.  

As we have also experienced a few inclement Summers here of late, I can also confirm that this works as a fake BBQ rub as it can be used to roast inside in a conventional oven as well as outside over the coals.  Technically this can be considered an all year around concoction, but being someone who loves to celebrate and punctuate the seasons, I prefer to keep this for the summer months, even if we have to pretend there’s sunshine. 

My bbq sauce is the icing on the cake here and I always have some ready to serve alongside and for a final baste glow up before serving.

Note:  Below I’m sharing how to use this on a spatchcocked chicken, wings or thighs and legs, but I also regularly sprinkle it over a side of salmon, a shoulder of lamb or chops, beef brisket, ribs or steaks.

For the BBQ Rub

  • 200g (1 cup) dark muscovado sugar
  • 130g (1 cup) malden salt
  • 100g (1 cup) ground espresso
  • 30g (1/4 cup) ground peppercorns
  • 40g (1/4 cup) garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp aleppo pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a jar or resealable container and shake well to combine.  This will keep stored in a cool dark place for two months (or longer depending on the freshness of the coffee)

For a BBQ Spatchcocked Chicken

This is my favourite way to grill chicken on a coal BBQ. I do it on indirect heat with skin facing up for the first 45 minutes, and then turn it over to brown the skin for the last 15 minutes.  

I also like this best on a spatchcocked chicken.  If your butcher has not already done this for you, my simple hack is to cut directly through the breastbone to flatten out the chicken.  

If the weather is unforgiving, or if you just want that BBQ flavour in the winter, you can make this in the oven.  Simply cook the chicken for an hour at 200C, basting with BBQ sauce in the last few minutes. (Note I use a little less rub for the indoor version)

Rub the chicken all over with a few small handfuls of The Ultimate BBQ Rub (above).  Allow to marinate for at least the hour that the chicken will need out of the fridge to come to room temperature, but preferably overnight (uncovered in the fridge will produce crispier skin).

An hour before you want to cook the chicken, light the BBQ coals, remove the marinading chicken from the fridge and soak 2 small applewood logs in water (if using smoke).

Give the coals the full 45 minutes –  an hour to heat up, and make sure the grill is set for indirect heat.  Add the soaked wood pieces, and a shallow tray filled half way with water, and allow the smoke to start building.  

Place the chicken on the grill skin side up, making sure it is over indirect heat.  Close the lid and leave to cook for 45 minutes.  

After that time, remove the water tray and turn the chicken skin side down to cook for the final 15 minutes.  If you want you can baste the chicken with a thin layer of BBQ sauce for added flavour.  

Allow to rest for 15-30 minutes covered in two layers of foil before carving and serving.

To oven cook:

Take the chicken out of the fridge an hour before you want to cook it.  Preheat oven to 200C.  Place the chicken in a shallow roasting dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and cook for an hour, basting every 20 minutes or so.  In the last 15 minutes, you can baste the chicken with a layer of BBQ sauce.  

Either way you cook the chicken, allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes, covered in two layers of foil before carving and serving.

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on