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Published May 27, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
You will love the simple-to-prepare marinated and grilled BBQ chicken recipe that is bursting with tasty barbecue flavors. Be sure to see my video for this below and don’t skip the marinade, grilling techniques, and BBQ sauce tips to really take grilled chicken over the top.
Grilled BBQ Chicken
Grilled BBQ chicken consists of grilling chicken at high heat to sear and then cooking over lower heat to finish cooking while occasionally basting with BBQ sauce. It is the most common practical way to make BBQ chicken if you do not have a smoker. This easy-to-make recipe is a popular recipe at backyard BBQ get-togethers.
If for some reason you have a smoker and want to learn how to make it, then please check out my Smoked BBQ Chicken Recipe. This recipe requires more time to prepare and the taste is exceptional, however, this grilled BBQ version is right up there in the flavor department.
Ingredients You Need
- Chicken – Any chicken parts will work, and I like to use a combination of skin-on split chicken breasts, thighs, and drums
- Oil – Any neutral-flavored oil will work.
- Spices – I prefer to use cumin, paprika, chili powder, ground mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Worcestershire Sauce – This will add some umami natural salts to the flavor of the marinade.
- Onion – Use peeled yellow, white, sweet, or red onion.
- Garlic – A few garlic cloves will go a long way in this marinade.
- Apple Juice – Any apple juice will work to help sweeten up the sauce.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – You can use any cider vinegar.
- BBQ Sauce – Use any BBQ sauce as long as it is not vinegar-based BBQ sauce.
- Butter – Always use unsalted butter.
How to Make Grilled BBQ Chicken
Use these easy-to-follow instructions and images to make this amazing Grilled BBQ Chicken recipe:
Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl until combined.
Submerge the chicken parts in the marinade and rub and move everything around so to infuse the flavors in the chicken.
Cover or transfer to a plastic zip bag and marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 48 hours.
When ready to start grilling, combine the BBQ sauce with the apple cider vinegar, apple juice, and butter, and heat over low heat to warm up and melt the butter. Set aside.
Next, add the chicken skin side down onto the hot portion of the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. See the video to keep from burning.
Move the chicken to the middle portion of the grill where the heat is on medium without flipping it over and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Flip the chicken over to the same area on the grill and immediately baste with the BBQ sauce and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Turn the chicken over and transfer it over to the low hear area on the grill and immediately baste with BBQ sauce on the bottom side of the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes.
Lastly, flip the chicken over, baste 1 more time and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, covered for 15-20 minutes, or in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 155° to 160°.
Remove the chicken and let rest for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with more BBQ sauce and an optional garnish of chopped chives, green onions, or parsley.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this up to 30 minutes ahead of time, cover with foil and keep in the oven at 200° until ready to serve.
How to Store: Cover and keep the grilled BBQ chicken for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze this covered for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1 day before reheating.
How to Reheat: Place the desired number of grilled BBQ chicken pieces on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and cover with foil and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes or until hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to cook BBQ chicken on the grill?
- It takes roughly 40 to 45 minutes to grill BBQ chicken.
Do you put BBQ sauce on the chicken before grilling?
- You can, but I chose to add the BBQ sauce after the first flip on the grill.
How do you grill the chicken without drying it out?
- Be sure to not overcook it and account for carry-over cooking. Remove the chicken from the grill once it reaches 155° internally.
Chef Notes + Tips
- All parts of the chicken are good for this recipe, so feel free to use a combination or just 1 cut like drums or thighs.
- If there are a lot of flames coming through the flames, tone them down with a few ice cubes in the places where they are most prevalent.
- Substitute the fresh onion in the marinade with 1 ½ tablespoons of onion granules.
- You can swap out the fresh garlic for 1 tablespoon of garlic granules
- This same grilling and marinating technique can be applied to pork chops.
- If you do not have the option to split the grill into different heat sections then only heat 1 side of the grill and leave the other side completely off and let it cook by indirect heat with the grill covered.
More BBQ Recipe
Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe
For the Marinade:
- ¾ cup neutral flavored oil
- 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- ½ peeled and finely grated yellow onion
- 4 finely grated garlic cloves
- 2 split chicken breasts
- 6 skin-on chicken drums
- 5 skin-on thighs
For the Sauce:
- 2 cups BBQ sauce
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- Marinade: Add everything except for the chicken to a large bowl and whisk until completely combined.
- Place the chicken into the marinade and thoroughly to ensure the chicken is completely covered.
- Place plastic wrap over top of the bowl or transfer to a plastic zip bag and marinate for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours.
- Sauce: Right before you are ready to start cooking add the sauce ingredients together to a medium-size saucepot and cook over low heat until the butter has melted in and the sauce is hot. Set aside.
- Preheat the grill in 3 sections with one side being hot (550°+) the middle section over medium heat (350° – 400°) and the last section over low heat (300° – 350°). See Chef notes if this is not an option.
- Once the chicken is done marinating transfer to a platter lined with parchment paper to make it easy to place right on the grill without marinade going everywhere.
- Add the chicken skin side down onto the hot portion of the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes. See video to keep from burning.
- Move the chicken to the middle portion of the grill where the heat is on medium without flipping it over and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over on the same area on the grill and immediately baste with the BBQ sauce and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Turn the chicken over and transfer it over to the low hear area on the grill and immediately baste with BBQ sauce on the bottom side of the chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Lastly, flip the chicken over, baste 1 more time and cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, covered for 15-20 minutes, or in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 155° to 160°.
- Remove the chicken and let rest for 3-5 minutes.
- Serve with more BBQ sauce and an optional garnish of chopped chives, green onions, or parsley.