Spice-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Everything Sauce
When the first burst of warm weather arrives each spring, I get so excited to cook outside. There is something so relaxing and enjoyable about a meal centered around the grill. This recipe ranks high on my list of all-time grill favorites and is perfect for a quick weeknight meal and absolutely worthy of company.
Typically, I bypass recipes with a laundry list of ingredients. As much as I love to cook, life gets busy, and I know I can cook delicious meals that don’t have 14 ingredients! This spice rub, however, is different. Taking a few minutes to mix a jarful of this rub will reward you with an incredibly fast and flavorful dinner. What’s more, there will be plenty left over for several more meals. (I now make double batches because I use it so often!) Simply sprinkle the mixture over the chicken minutes before grilling. No need for an extended marinade. No need for advance planning. That’s the beauty of a good rub.
The accompanying sauce is my “everything sauce” because it compliments so many foods. The spice-rubbed chicken is wonderful without it but reaches new heights when drizzled with the tangy blend of vinegar, honey, and Dijon. This recipe has evolved over the years, from a thin vinegar sauce to a light and tangy dressing with a hint of sweetness. The use of Greek yogurt creates a creamier sauce with loads of flavor and little fat.
A helpful tip is to pound the chicken for grilling. You can easily do this by placing the chicken between two pieces of wax paper or plastic wrap and pounding with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy jar. If you want to avoid this added and somewhat messy step, any butcher will do it for you, creating an even thickness that allows the chicken to cook evenly without becoming dry.
If available, consider buying boneless chicken breasts with the skin on. Even if you don’t eat the skin, it will hold in the moisture during the cooking process, ensuring a juicier finished product. While all supermarkets do not offer this option, it is worth asking. (For those who live near me, I did a little checking; while Shenk’s Poultry in Central Market has long offered this choice, all of the Stauffer’s stores are now carrying it as well.)
For the rub, use the freshest spices available. The flavor will be better than you ever imagined. If you use this rub occasionally throughout the summer, you will find it is an excellent way to turn over spices that typically get little use.
When grilling this dinner, I always plan for leftovers. (Doggie bags have occasionally gone home with delighted guests!) A second round of this meal tastes as delicious as the first and is faster than a drive-thru on a busy night. Click here for my simple Round Two Pasta recipe.
I adapted the following rub from a Bobby Flay recipe to reduce the number of ingredients and adjust for a few hard-to-find spices. While mixing, consider doubling the batch to have plenty to last through the grilling season. Packaged in a small jar, it also makes a welcome gift.
- Chicken breasts (I prefer boneless, skin-on and pounded to an even thickness; see notes)
- Everything Sauce (recipe follows)
- 2 ½ tablespoons ancho chili powder (may substitute regular chile powder)
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- ¼ – ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Combine the chile powder through cayenne pepper and store in an airtight container.
- When ready to grill, liberally sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with the spice rub. I use about a teaspoon or so per breast half. Rub the mixture a bit so it really coats the chicken. Over high heat, grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side or until the breasts are golden brown and just cooked through.
- Allow the chicken to rest for five minutes and serve with the sauce.
While pounding is not critical, this will allow the chicken to cook more quickly and evenly. If you cannot find boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, feel free to use boneless, skinless.
While the sauce is perfect when paired with Spice-Rubbed Grilled Chicken, let your imagination be the guide for any leftovers. I particularly like the sauce drizzled over green vegetables and pasta…even as a novel pizza sauce. Initially, the sauce will appear thin but will thicken as it chills.
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt (I typically use 2%, although non-fat may be used)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
- The sauce may be prepared in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature. The sauce will last at least a week stored in the refrigerator.