What Are Good Spices For Chicken?

What herbs and spices go well with chicken? The simple answer is just about all of them. Chicken — especially chicken breast — is the ultimate blank slate protein that works well with most of the items in your spice cabinet.

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Lemon pepper

The combination of tart citrus and heat goes well with many food items, but none is better than chicken. Lemon pepper is the easiest to find and easiest to use of the spice blends that provide this flavor combination. While it’s not exactly bland, lemon pepper is a little on the mild side. You will get more from it when you combine it with other seasonings. It works well with most of the other seasonings that you may want to use on your chicken, including garlic and onion.

Madras curry powder

A milder blend of Indian spices like Madras curry powder is great on chicken. Madras curry powder is relatively mild because it was formulated for British taste buds that were unaccustomed to the pungent heat of true South Indian spice blends. It contains several spices that allow you to give a bright color and pungent complexity to your food.

You can make a classic chicken curry or use curry powder as an ingredient in your dry rub. Another somewhat non-traditional option is to add it to the breading for fried chicken.

Jerk seasoning

You can find jerk seasoning past and jerk seasoning powder in many grocery stores and stores that provide West Indian food items. Both of them work well with chicken. Jerk seasoning paste is typically jarred and will include ingredients like scallions, allspice, and thyme. Combine jerk paste with liquid ingredients like vinegar, oil, or soy sauce to make a marinade for the chicken that you plan to grill.

Jerk seasoning powder is more like a typical dry rub with extra allspice. Sprinkle it on your chicken before you grill it just like you would any other dry rub. Don’t be afraid to experiment with jerk seasoning, it’s applications are not limited to open-flame cooking. Feel free to use it in a chicken stew or a stir-fried chicken dish.


Using pesto as a marinade for chicken is a classic use for the basil-centric herb paste. Use it to coat chicken pieces before grilling or baking them to get the rich flavor of basil, garlic, and parmesan cheese, along with the crunch of pine nuts. Pesto will give your chicken a bright herbal flavor and an attractive green color.

Balsamic vinegar

By offering a delightful combination of sweetness and tartness, balsamic vinegar is great as a marinade, or it can work as a rich and flavorful glaze if you reduce it. Balsamic vinegar is made with grape must and has been aged in wooden barrels. It has a concentrated fruity flavor with notes of pomegranate and fig.

Vindaloo curry powder

On the opposite side of the Scoville scale from Madras curry powder lies spicy Vindaloo curry powder, which is sometimes called vindaloo masala. It is the blend of spices used in the Vindaloo, a pork dish from the Goa region of India that was handed down by Portuguese colonists.

Vindaloo curry powder works well on any meat and is fantastic on chicken provided you can handle its concentrated heat. While authentic Indian vindaloo differs from the versions you might get in British curry houses, both have the liberal use of chili peppers in common.