Does it get any better than BBQ chicken cooked slowly on the grill and slathered with your favorite barbecue sauce? Here’s the best recipe for grilling perfect BBQ chicken for summer gatherings and cookouts.
Along with hot dogs and hamburgers, barbecued chicken is about as classic as it gets when it comes time for grilling.
The Trick to Good Grilled BBQ Chicken
But chicken takes longer to cook than either hot dogs or hamburgers and loves lower cooking temperatures, so it’s easy to mess up by under-cooking, over-charring, or both. The trick to good BBQ Chicken?
How Long to Grill Chicken
Done right, it will take at least an hour, and even up to 2 hours. Remember that barbecue is slow and low, grilling is hot and fast. You can grill a chicken breast, but chicken thighs, legs, or wings are far better barbecued.
The key here is to moderate your heat, however you can. Either set the coals of the grill all on one side so you have a cool spot, put the chicken on the top rack of the grill, farther away from the heat, or, if you have a gas grill, just turn the heat to low. Slow and steady makes the best BBQ chicken.
How to Grill BBQ Chicken
5-10 minutes, depending on how hot the grill is (you do not want the chicken to burn).
Once you have a good sear on one side, turn the chicken pieces over and move them to the cooler side of the grill.
If you are using a gas grill, maintain the flame on only one side of the grill, and move the chicken pieces to the cooler side, not directly over the flame. Reduce the temp to low or medium low (between 250°F and 275°F, no more than 300°F).
Cover the grill and cook undisturbed for 20-30 minutes.
Turn over, baste, and cook until done:
Turn the chicken pieces over and baste them with with your favorite barbecue sauce. Cover the grill again and allow to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Repeat, turning the chicken pieces over, basting them with sauce, covering, and cooking for another 10-30 minutes.
The timing will depend on your grill set-up, the size of your chicken pieces, and how cold your chicken pieces are to start with! If you’re grilling smaller pieces of chicken on a charcoal grill, they may be done much earlier. The goal is to maintain a low enough grill temp so that the chicken cooks “low and slow.”
The chicken is done when the internal temperature of the chicken pieces are 160°F for breasts and 170°F for thighs, when tested with a meat thermometer.
Or if you insert the tip of a knife into the middle of the thickest piece and the juices run clear, the chicken is done.
If the chicken isn’t done, turn the pieces over and continue to cook at a low temperature.
Sear a final time, then remove from heat:
If you want, you can finish with a sear on the hot side of the grill. To do this, put the pieces, skin side down, on the hot side of the grill. Allow them to sear and blacken slightly for a minute or two.
Use a clean brush to paint the cooked chicken with more barbecue sauce and serve.