Gallery: 5 Great Spices for Grilled Chicken

  • Aleppo Chile

    Robyn Lee

    The tart, oily flavors of aleppo brighten chicken's mild taste, and act as a nice counterpart to the dark, super-savory flavors of grilling. Chiles burn if exposed to direct heat for too long, so whisk some aleppo into a basting sauce and brush on during the end of cooking.

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    Mustard Seeds

    Max Falkowitz

    The hot, pungent flavor of mustard seeds is unleashed only when they cook over high heat and pop open. In other words, they're perfect for grilling. Mustard seeds take well to a range of flavors: cumin, coriander, chiles, soy and hoisin, or green onions. Take mustard seed as a base flavor and customize away.

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    Max Falkowitz

    The earthy, spicy, crazy complex Ethiopian berbere most famously accompanies chicken in the country's national dish: doro wat. But berbere's great for grilling as well as braises. The raw pungency of the spice will be replaced by roasted, caramelized flavors—sheer magic on chicken in a dry rub before grilling.

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    [Photographs: Max Falkowitz]


    Robyn Lee

    When you slowly dry peppers over fragrant wood fires, you get pimentón, one of the world's great spices. It's smoky, sweet, and hot in a restrained way all at once. When you roast those peppers on a chicken's fatty skin over open get the idea. It's ridiculous. I like paprika most as part of a garlicky marinade for chicken before it meets the grill. Just dry the skin thoroughly before grilling.

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    Max Falkowitz

    You may not think of turmeric as grill-fodder, but you should. It's earthy, rich, and lightly fragrant, and it won't overwhelm the chicken. Coat your chicken in yogurt mixed with turmeric and garam masala for a tandoori-style preparation that forms a fantastic crust.

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    There are entire restaurants devoted to yakitori—grilled chicken parts ordered by the piece on skewers, but at the fair, you'll find only the most popular menu items. Grilled breast or thigh meat served simply with salt or a dip into sweet soy and mirin-based tare, chicken skin folded around a skewer and grilled over coals until crisp, or perhaps tsukune, a chicken-based meatball.