BBQ Chicken – Downshiftology


Without a doubt, this BBQ chicken is insanely juicy, perfectly charred, and glistening with my secret homemade BBQ sauce. And if you’re new to barbecuing, this foolproof method will have you shining at your next summer cookout.

BBQ chicken on a grill

First, Let’s Talk Barbecue vs Grill

Often times, grilling and barbecue are used interchangeably (I thought the same). But they’re actually two completely different ways of cooking.

Grilling is what we’re typically used to, where foods are seared hot and fast over a direct heat source. This calls for items like burger patties, steaks, vegetables, and seafood. These types of items don’t need a long cooking time – like my garlic grilled shrimp skewers, grilled salmon steaks, or grilled corn on the cob. Just a short 10 to 20 minutes will have them perfectly cooked.

But when you’re grilling thicker, bone-in foods like chicken thighs or drumsticks, beef ribs, brisket, or pork, you want to barbecue them. Meaning, they need to be cooked low and slow for at least a few hours, away from direct heat. The results are extra tender, juicy, and especially delicious when slathered with my homemade BBQ sauce!

Ingredients for BBQ chicken on the table

Ingredients You’ll Need

In terms of ingredients, you don’t need much really. Just a bunch of chicken thighs and drumsticks, a homemade dry rub, and some BBQ sauce. But what goes into the dry rub and BBQ sauce will make all the difference. So take note below.

  • Chicken Thighs & Drumsticks: Make sure to use bone-in, skin-on chicken for maximum juiciness.
  • Dry Rub: A simple combination of kosher salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, chili powder, onion powder, and black pepper adds heaps of flavor to the chicken.
  • BBQ Sauce: Of course, I love my homemade BBQ sauce (which I use in this recipe) as it has no junky ingredients. But you can use any BBQ sauce that you love. This is going to be the final touch on your chicken, so choose wisely!

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Best Types of Chicken for BBQ

Chicken thighs will always remain a favorite, just because they’re extra tender and don’t dry out as easily as other cuts. But, chicken legs are also a great option for those who like munching on drumsticks! Either way, make sure to leave the skin on. It helps to keep the chicken moist as it undergoes the barbecue process.

Side note: Chicken breasts can be an option, you’ll just cook them to a lower final temperature of 160°F (71°C). But from my experience, bone-in chicken yields the best results.

Become a grill master with just 3 tools – a basting brush, large tongs, and thermometer.

  • Basting Brush: This silicone basting brush is my all-time favorite! Not only is it easy to use, but the cleanup is minimal.
  • Large Tongs: Make sure to grab long tongs! This will make it easier to flip the chicken pieces over a hot and flaming grill.
  • Thermometer: An instant read thermometer is key to making sure your chicken is perfectly cooked through. Just give it a quick poke towards the end!
A plate of BBQ chicken on a white plate and napkin.

How to Make Baked BBQ Chicken

The #1 thing to remember about barbecuing is to create a balanced heat source. You either want your grill to have a cool and hot side (where you can cook in indirect heat), or keep the heat on low the entire time. Either way, the general idea here is to cook your chicken low and slow.

Pro tip: If you have a 3-burner grill, you can turn two burners on and leave one burner off (watch the video below to see how I do that).

Patting chicken dry on a baking sheet for BBQ chicken

Prep the chicken. Place the chicken on a large baking sheet and bring to room temperature. Pat dry with a paper towel.


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