Cumin Chicken

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This juicy Cumin Chicken with the most delicious homemade spice rub is ready in just 15 minutes! Tender, perfectly seasoned chicken that can be cooked on the grill or in the oven.

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If you are looking for an easy chicken recipe, this Cumin Chicken Breast is for you! It's made with common spices, comes together in just 15 minutes, and can be used for so many different dishes. 

Last week I defrosted some chicken in the fridge and then almost forgot to use it. Opening the fridge right before dinner, I realized I had some chicken breast I needed to use immediately. Without too much time to marinate the chicken or extra ingredients on hand, I pulled open the spice drawer to make a quick spice rub. It was so good, that I knew I needed to share it. 

This cumin spice rub with paprika, garlic, and a hint of spice from red pepper flakes reminds me a little bit of Chipotle's grilled chicken. It has that slightly smoky flavor without being overpowering. This chicken is great for so many dishes. Use it for grilled chicken tacos, in burrito bowls, or simply paired with some brown rice and grilled vegetables

Grilled cumin chicken sliced and served over a bed of greens with red onion and lime juice.

What You'll Need

  • Chicken: This easy spice rub works great with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, and chicken drumsticks. It works with almost any protein. 
  • Cumin: Ground cumin is the star of this dish with its smoky, slightly earthy flavor.  Cumin is a warming spice and will bring out the savory flavor in meat and chicken. 
  • Paprika: The sweet spice of paprika is the perfect way to balance the smoky flavors in the cumin. Look for sweet paprika. Smoked paprika will add too much smoky flavor to the chicken.
  • Garlic powder: Layering flavors is essential in a seasoning mix and garlic powder adds a nice boost of flavor.  Onion powder could be added as well.
  • Red pepper flakes: To add some heat, red pepper flakes are a great addition. Chili powder, ancho chili powder, or cayenne pepper could be used as well. Leave it out if you don't want any heat in the dish.
  • Salt and pepper: Salt and pepper are critical to bringing out the flavor. If your chicken ever tastes bland, it is probably a lack of salt.
  • Olive oil: Any neutral oil works in this dish, but olive oil adds a nice subtle flavor to the chicken. 
  • Lime juice: Finishing the dish with some fresh lime or lemon juice, makes the flavors pop. 

Side Dish Ideas

This flavorful chicken recipe pairs well with so many different side dishes. It's a versatile recipe. 

How to cook Cumin Chicken in a skillet?

This recipe works great in a skillet if you want to cook it indoors. Always start by gently pounding the chicken (or slicing it in half horizontally) so the chicken is a uniform thickness. This ensures it will cook evenly. 

Cover the chicken on both sides with the cumin spice rub. Heat about one tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes per side.

Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes, tented with foil, before serving. 

Chicken breast coated in cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper served with a salad and fresh limes.

Recipe Tips and Ideas

  • Add even more flavor by turning this spice rub into a marinade. Double the olive oil, add a tablespoon of vinegar or lime juice, and the spices. Add to a ziploc bag and marinate for 1-2 hours. 
  • Add dried herbs to the spice rub for another layer of flavor., Oregano, parsley, basil, or rosemary would all be delicious. 
  • Finish the dish with fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, or chives. 
  • Turn this chicken into skewers or kabobs. Add fresh veggies like peppers, onions, or zucchini.

Frequently Asked Questions

Find the answers to the most common questions about making this cumin chicken.

Cumin has a smoky flavor but in general, it doesn't have any spice in terms of heat. It is made with ground seeds and the flavor is usually described as slightly smoky, earthy, and warming. 

This spice rub works great for chicken thighs. If the chicken thighs are boneless and skinless, the chicken will cook in the same amount of time. 

Cumin and coriander are two different spices that come from different plants. Coriander comes from the seed of the cilantro plant. It is sweeter than cumin and has a bright, almost lemony flavor. Cumin has a stronger flavor with smoky undertones. Cumin is darker in color than coriander as well.

Chicken breast coated with cumin spice rub and served with lettuce, red onions, and lime juice.
The Recipe
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Cumin Chicken

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  • 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 lime (or lemon, for serving)

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Preheat the grill or grill pan over medium-high heat. Mix together the cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

Cumin, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, pepper, and red chili flakes in a small bowl.

Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil. Sprinkle over the chicken and rub it in to evenly coat the chicken.

Chicken breast being coated with a cumin seasoning rub.

Grill for 4-6 minutes per side or until cooked through. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with freshly squeezed lime juice.

Cumin chicken breasts grilling on a grill pan.
Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 6 oz. chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 189
Calories from Fat 34
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 74mg
Sodium 350mg
Total Carbohydrate 0g
Dietary Fiber 0g
Sugars 0g
Protein 32g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.

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About the author Meet Kristen McCaffrey
Hi, I’m the cookbook author, recipe developer, and food enthusiast behind Slender Kitchen. I am obsessed with making healthy food that is easy to prepare and absolutely delicious. Meal planning is my secret weapon and I hope I can make meal time easier for you with our tried and tested recipes and foolproof meal plans. Learn More
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