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Grilled BBQ Chicken

May 15, 2024

It’s a classic for a reason. BBQ chicken gets a perfect caramelized char on the grill. We love to eat it with almost everything during the summer.

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grilled bbq chicken smothered in bbq sauce on a serving platter
Photography by Gayle McLeod

An Easy BBQ Chicken Recipe To Make The Very Next Time You Grill

If this were a game of Family Feud “Name Things That Go on the Grill,” BBQ Chicken would surely top the list. It’s an essential summertime grilling recipe, and we’re giving you everything you need to know to make the most out of this classic grilled BBQ chicken recipe. Just be sure to plan ahead–different types of chicken take different amounts of time! Serve BBQ chicken with Corn on the Cob and Pesto Potato Salad. Check out Our Best Grilled Chicken Recipes for more great grilling ideas.

3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken wings, legs, thighs and breasts on parchment paper next to bowls of salt and bbq sauce

Ingredients You’ll Need To Make The Best Grilled BBQ Chicken

  • Chicken – 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken wings, legs, thighs, and/or breasts. We like to mix it up because that way everyone gets the chicken pieces they want.

  • Kosher salt – You’ll need to season the chicken before you dunk it in BBQ sauce.

  • BBQ Sauce – Homemade or store-bought, but really the magic lies in the homemade sauce!

3 pounds chicken legs, thighs, wings and breasts being cooked on the grill and brushed with bbq sauce

How to Make Barbecue Chicken On The Grill

  1. Turn up the heat! Heat one side of the grill on high (400° F).

  2. Sprinkle some salt. Season the chicken all over with salt.

  3. Load up the grill. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the side of the grill with direct heat and cook for 10 minutes.

  4. Sauce it up. Turn and brush the chicken evenly with half of the BBQ sauce and transfer to the other side of the grill.

  5. Close and cook. Cover the grill and cook the chicken over indirect heat until tender.

  6. Flip it! Turn the chicken again, brushing evenly with the remaining BBQ sauce, and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant read thermometer.

grilled bbq chicken smothered in bbq sauce on a serving platter

How to Store + Tips For Grilling BBQ Chicken

  • Leftovers – Store leftover BBQ chicken in the fridge for 3-4 days. One of our favorite things to do is shred leftover BBQ chicken and use it in bowls and salads. You can also freeze BBQ chicken leftovers once it has cooled completely to room temperature.

  • Look for a “party pack” of chicken at the grocery store. It’s a perfect mix of chicken pieces, and ideal for making sure that everyone gets the piece of chicken they like most.

  • Indirect versus direct heat – If using charcoal, you can heat the chicken as directed in the recipe, but then move the coals over to one side

  • If you would like to speed up the cooking process, you can cook the chicken closer to the direct heat. However, keep in mind that the BBQ sauce is more likely to char and you will also lose some of the smokiness that results from cooking over indirect heat.

sliced grilled bbq chicken smothered in bbq sauce

More Great Recipes For The Grill From The Modern Proper

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Grilled BBQ Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr 50 min
  • Calories: 500

Ingredients

Method

  1. Heat one side of the grill on high (400° F).

  2. Season the chicken all over with the salt. Place the chicken, skin side down, on the side of the grill with direct heat and cook for 10 minutes. Turn and brush the chicken evenly with half of the BBQ sauce and transfer to the other side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook the chicken over indirect heat until tender, about 30 minutes. Turn the chicken again, brushing evenly with the remaining BBQ sauce, and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant read thermometer, about 30 minutes more (see Note).


Note: Wings and legs will be done after about 70 minutes (35 minutes per side). Thighs will be done after about 85 minutes (about 42 minutes per side). The breasts will be done after about 100 minutes (50 minutes per side).

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories500
  • Protein46 g
  • Carbohydrates30 g
  • Total Fat20 g
  • Dietary Fiber0 g
  • Cholesterol140 mg
  • sodium993 mg
  • Total Sugars24 g

Grilled BBQ Chicken

Questions & Reviews

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  • Claire

    Could you do this with a spatchcock chicken and would it change the technique at all?

    You can grill a spatchcocked chicken. Look up our "Grilled spatchococked chicken" recipe for the grilling technique and then you can just use bbq sauce instead of the spices/marinade listed in that recipe. Hope you enjoy Claire!

  • Kay

    I LOVE your bbq sauce recipe this was not my first time making it, highly recommend over store bought if you have the time. My chicken turned out moist and delicious!

    Thanks Kay, so glad you love it!