This BBQ chicken is unbelievably juicy, precisely grilled, and dripping with my secret homemade BBQ sauce. Even if you're new to grilling, this surefire approach will make you the star of your next summer picnic.
FIRST, LET’S TALK BARBECUE VS GRILL
Grilling and BBQ are frequently used interchangeably. Yet, these are two very distinct methods of cooking.
- We're used to grilling, where dishes are seared hot and quickly over a direct heat source. This includes burger patties, steaks, veggies, and seafood.
- But, when grilling thicker, bone-in items such as chicken thighs or drumsticks, beef ribs, brisket, or pig, you should barbecue them. That is, they must be cooked low and slow for several hours, away from direct heat.
INGREDIENTS YOU’LL NEED
In terms of ingredients, you don't really need much.
- Chicken Thighs and Drumsticks: For maximum juiciness, use bone-in, skin-on chicken.
- Dry Rub: A simple mixture of kosher salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and black pepper gives the chicken a ton of flavor.
- BBQ Sauce: Of course, I love my homemade BBQ sauce (which I use in this recipe) because it contains no preservatives. However, you can use any BBQ sauce you like. This will be the finishing touch on your chicken, so choose wisely!
BEST TYPES OF CHICKEN FOR BBQ
Chicken thighs will always be a favorite since they are especially soft and do not dry out as quickly as other portions. Yet, for those who enjoy eating drumsticks, chicken legs are a terrific alternative!
HOW TO MAKE BAKED BBQ CHICKEN
The most important thing to remember while grilling is to have a balanced heat source.
Make the chicken. Bring the chicken to room temperature on a large baking sheet. With a paper towel, pat it dry.
Combine the dry rub. In a small dish, combine the dry rub and sprinkle it over each piece of chicken, then massage it all over with your hands to coat. Don't forget to rub the spices into your skin as well!
Preheat one side of your grill for high, direct heat while turning off the burners on the other. If you're using charcoal or wood, make sure the grill has a cold side with few to no embers.
Cook the chicken on the grill. Place the chicken on the grill's indirect heat side, but close to the heart. Cook the chicken for 30–35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes until an instant-read thermometer reads 160°F (71°C)–165°F (74°C).
Brush with barbecue sauce. Coat the chicken with BBQ sauce and cook, covered, for 3 to 4 minutes. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes after flipping, brushing with additional BBQ sauce. Continue until the chicken thighs and drumsticks have reached 170°F (77°C) to 175°F (80°C).
Transfer the chicken to a serving platter and top with additional BBQ sauce!
- To store: Make sure the chicken is completely cold before placing it in an airtight container. It can be stored in the fridge for up to 4–5 days.
- To freeze: Place the BBQ chicken in a freezer-safe container and place it in the freezer for up to 3 months.
BBQ CHICKEN (GRILLED)
- 3 ½ to 4 pounds (about 12 to 14 pieces) chicken thighs or drumsticks (bone-in and skin-on)
- teaspoon kosher salt
- teaspoon garlic powder
- teaspoon smoked paprika
- teaspoon chili powder
- teaspoon onion powder
- teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup BBQ sauce
- Prep the chicken. Place the chicken thighs on a large baking sheet and bring to room temperature. Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Mix the dry rub. In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Sprinkle the rub over the chicken and use your hands to make sure the chicken is well coated on all sides (and under the skin if you'd like).
- Prep the grill. Prepare one side of your grill for high, direct heat, leaving the burners on the other side off. If you are using charcoal or wood, make sure there is a cool side to the grill where there are few to no coals. Watch the video above to see how I do this!
- Grill the chicken. Lay the chicken on the indirect heat side of the grill, yet close to the heat. Cover, and cook the chicken for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping the chicken every 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reaches 160°F to 165°F.
- Brush with BBQ sauce. Brush the chicken with BBQ sauce and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, covered. Flip the chicken, brush with more BBQ sauce, and cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Repeat this process until the chicken thighs and drumsticks reach 175°F.
- Serve. Remove the chicken to a serving plate. Serve with extra BBQ sauce if desired.
- If you’re using my BBQ sauce recipe, you can always make that the day before to simplify prep work and grilling. Just store it in the fridge until you’re ready to use it!
- If you don’t have a grill, you can bake your chicken thighs using my crispy baked chicken thighs recipe. Just slather the BBQ sauce on the pieces towards the end!