Grilled BBQ Chicken enveloped in a tantalizing spice rub, slathered with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and grilled to perfection for the best juicy, smokey flavorful chicken every single time!
Grilled BBQ Chicken is super quick and easy and doesn’t require a marinade so it is perfect for last minute dinners or entertaining. You can use my insanely delicious Homemade Barbecue Sauce or your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce. I’ve included tips and tricks and cooking times for different cuts of chicken so you are fully quipped to make Grilled Barbecue chicken in all its juicy, saucy, caramelized-edged glory.
GRILLED BBQ CHICKEN RECIPE VIDEO
What Makes the Best BBQ Chicken on the Grill?
Grilled BBQ Chicken is always a crowd pleaser – when it’s done right. And this Grilled BBQ Chicken is done right. Both Patrick and I were expecting to love this Barbecue Chicken but we were inhaling this chicken. This Grilled BBQ Chicken deserves to become a dinner time staple along with favorites Nashville Hot Chicken and Baked Fried Chicken.
What sets this Grilled BBQ Chicken recipe apart from the rest is the homemade spice rub and homemade Barbecue Sauce. I’ve scaled down both the rub and barbecue sauce from my BBQ Brisket, BBQ Ribs, and BBQ Brisket Sandwiches because you don’t mess with perfection. If you haven’t tried any of these barbecue recipes yet, then it’s time, starting with this Barbecue Chicken! Here are just a few comments regarding the Homemade Barbecue Sauce (on my ribs post):
“Absolutely incredible!! My husband is a huge BBQ rib fan. He’s been to rib competitions always looking for the best BBQ sauce. He was blown away. I haven’t even finished digesting and felt the need to leave this comment asap. Lol thank you...” – Danielle
“The BBQ sauce is some of the best I have tasted!” -Beth
“….The best part is your BBQ sauce. That is the best I have ever had and I will be making my own (your recipe) from here on out. I was skeptical reading all the posts about how good it was and I now know why. Absolutely amazing…” – Terry
“…That bbq sauce is amazing, I will definitely be using that sauce from now on!” – Kristen
So while it’s easier and more convenient to squeeze a bunch of store-bought barbecue sauce on your grilled barbecue chicken, I promise the homemade barbecue sauce is very simple to make and tantalizingly delicious!
What Should I Season Grilled BBQ Chicken with?
Along with the homemade barbecue sauce, your chicken needs a dynamite rub. If you just slather a piece of grilled chicken in barbecue sauce, I promise you will be disappointed. If you just marinate your chicken in barbecue sauce, I promise you will be disappointed. If you want multi-dimensional restaurant delicious Grilled Barbecue Chicken, then it needs a spice rub and barbecue sauce.
I am a huge believer in the elevating power of spice rubs. I use a spice rub in my Carne Asada recipe and I use a spice rub in my Buffalo Hot Wings which I believe transforms them into some of the best out there.
For this Grilled BBQ Chicken spice rub we whisk together:
- smoked paprika
- chili powder
- chipotle chili powder
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- dried thyme
- brown sugar
Once you rub your chicken with olive oil and the spice rub, you can let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, or cover or transfer to a freezer size bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. 24 hours is optimal but even with just 30 minutes of resting, your chicken will be taken to a whole new level of YUM.
Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast
If you want to make Grilled BBQ Chicken Breasts, you might want to consider using a brine because chicken breasts can easily dry out when cooked due to their low fat content.
- WHY BRINE CHICKEN BREASTS? In short, brining is the quickest way (15 minutes) to ensure juicy chicken every single time because the salty brining bath increases the moisture capacity of the chicken. It does this by breaking down the proteins of the bird so they can no longer contract when cooking. This means less water will be squeezed out and lost, resulting in juicier chicken.
- HOW TO BRINE CHICKEN: Combine 8 cups warm water and 1/2 cup kosher salt together in a glass dish. Stir until the salt dissolves. Add chicken and let sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes. Rinse chicken and pat dry – that’s it!
How long does it take to BBQ chicken on the grill?
I chose to use chicken drumsticks in this Grilled BBQ Chicken recipe because they are always the first to fly off the plate (pun intended). Chicken drumsticks are inherently juicy, hard to overcook and easy to eat with just one hand without any utensils required.
That being said, you can certainly use any part of the chicken to grill. I have outlined the different cooking times for each cut of chicken below, but keep in mind these will be slightly different for each individual due to grill variables and the actual size of each cut of chicken. The only certain way to know if your chicken is done is to use an instant read thermometer. If you don’t own one, they are available at every grocery store, so add it to your list today :)!
You will note below that I say some cuts of chicken are done when an instant read thermometer reads 165°F and on some cuts I say 165-180° F. While 165° is safe, some cuts of chicken, such as the drumsticks and leg quarters, actually taste better when they are cooked closer to 180°F because they (unlike chicken breasts) will become more tender.
HOW LONG DO I GRILL CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS?
- Grease and preheat grill to high heat.
- Season chicken and add to hot grill and sear for 5 minutes, uncovered, flip and sear an additional 5 minutes, uncovered.
- Cover, and turn heat down to low so the temperature stays around 325°F when the lid is CLOSED.
- Cook 5 minute then flip and cover; cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Check chicken temperature. It should register 165-180°F. If chicken is not cooked to this temperature yet, flip and repeat steps until chicken is fully cooked through.
HOW LONG DO I GRILL CHICKEN THIGHS?
- Grease and preheat the grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
- Season chicken thighs and grill undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through. An inserted thermometer should read 165° F.
HOW LONG DO I GRILL BONE-IN CHICKEN THIGHS?
- Grease and heat grill to medium heat.
- Season and add chicken to grill.
- Cover, and reduce heat so it stays around 350-375°F with the lid CLOSED.
- Grill chicken thighs 6-10 minutes per side, depending on size, or until no longer pink and an inside thermometer registers 165° F
HOW LONG DO I GRILL CHICKEN BREASTS?
- Grease and preheat grill to medium heat, 375-450°F.
- Pound chicken breasts to an even thickness.
- Season chicken breasts and grill undisturbed for 5-7 minutes per side, depending on thickness, or until chicken is cooked through. An inserted thermometer should read 165°F.
HOW LONG DO I GRILL CHICKEN LEG QUARTERS?
- Grease and heat grill to high heat.
- Season chicken and add to hot grill and sear for 5 minutes. Flip chicken over and sear 5 minutes.
- Cover and reduce heat to low so that the heat stays around 350°F when the lid is CLOSED.
- Grill with the lid closed for 12 minutes.
- Flip chicken over, cover and grill and additional 12 minutes.
- Check chicken temperature. It should register 165-180° F. If chicken is not cooked to this temperature yet, flip and repeat steps until chicken is fully cooked through.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR GRILLED BARBECUE CHICKEN
- Remove Skin. I remove the skin from my chicken drumsticks because I am not a fan of soggy skin. Even if the skin is crispy initially when grilled, it gets soggy when coated in the barbecue sauce. Chicken with the skin on is also more prone to cause flare-ups and burn. If you want to grill with the skin on, eat it with the skin on or you will lose the flavor from the rub. Also be prepared with some water nearby the grill in case of flare ups.
- Use all the seasonings. The spice mix might seem like a lot of seasonings, but I promise it is the perfect amount, use ALL of it!
- Let chicken rest. After you rub the chicken with seasonings, let it rest for 30 minutes on the counter or tightly wrap/transfer to freezer size Ziploc bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours. Letting it rest is life changing!
- Don’t cook chicken straight from the refrigerator! If your chicken has been refrigerated, let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes, this will allow your chicken to come closer to room temperature so it will cook more evenly.
- Preheat grill with lid closed. Preheat your grill with the lid closed so your grill gets nice and hot but sear with the lid open. Follow specific instructions on whether grill should be open or closed. If instructions do not specify, then that means to grill uncovered, with the lid open.
- Use a instant read thermometer! When it comes to checking the temperature of chicken, there is no accurate way to check without cutting your chicken open and loosing juices, other than an instant read thermometer! They are fast, highly accurate, and save you all the guesswork and possibly food poisoning
- Close lid. With the exception of chicken breasts, and thighs, keep the grill lid closed as much as possible after searing. Drumsticks, leg quarters and bone-in chicken thighs need to be roasted which is accomplish when the lid is closed causing heat to surround the chicken.
- Cook to 165°F for LIGHT meat or 180°F for DARK meat. While 165°F is a safe internal temperature for all chicken, 180°F will produce more tender, fall-off-the-bone dark meat.
When Should I add Barbecue Sauce to the Grilled Chicken?
You don’t want to add any BBQ Sauce to your chicken until the last 3 minutes or so of cooking otherwise the sauce will burn due to the sugars in the barbecue sauce. I like to add the barbecue sauce when my chicken is almost done, then let it grill on each side for a minute or so so the barbecue sauce caramelizes slightly then I slather my chicken with more barbecue sauce off of the grill.
What Should I Serve with Grilled BBQ Chicken?
- Cowboy Pasta Salad
- Million Dollar Macaroni and Cheese
- Award Winning Sweet Cornbread
- Baked Beans with Bacon and Brown Sugar
- Perfect Fruit Salad
- Grape Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing
- Kicked Up Classy Creamy Potato Salad
- Cheesy Pull Apart Pesto Bread
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Corn Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing
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