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This BBQ grilled chicken is moist, juicy, and smokey. A simple spice rub infuses the chicken with flavor, then it is basted at the end of cooking with a sweet and tangy BBQ Sauce. Grill this perfect summer chicken recipe today!

Large white platter with grilled BBQ  chicken thighs and drumsticks.

Easy grilled BBQ Chicken

BBQ Chicken is one of those recipes that seems like it should be easy, but so often turns out only OK. I still have a very strong memory from childhood of excitedly biting into a piece of BBQ chicken, only to be disappointed with how bland and unappetizing the chicken was.

The problem with most barbeque chicken is that the recipe relies on the BBQ sauce to give all the flavor to the chicken. Unfortunately, the bbq sauce can’t penetrate the meat of the chicken and so everything other than the outside layer is bland and unseasoned. The solution? A quick and easy spice rub that can be applied to the chicken ahead of grilling, which lends loads of flavor and gives you a moist and juicy piece of chicken.

Chicken drumsticks and thighs on a grill, with grillmarks

Spice Rub for BBQ Chicken on the grill

Using a spice rub for grilled BBQ Chicken allows you to infuse tons of flavor without worrying about burning BBQ sauce on the grill. The sugar in barbeque sauce makes it burn quickly when subjected to high heat. With the spice rub, the chicken is well seasoned, and the BBQ sauce is able to add the finishing touch at the end of the grilling process.

Spice Rub

  • chili powder
  • smoked paprika
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • black pepper
  • oregano
  • cayenne (optional)

Mix all ingredients for the spice rub together and liberally season chicken pieces all over. Allow to sit for several hours if possible, overnight is even better.

What is the best Barbeque sauce for BBQ Chicken?

Use whichever BBQ sauce is your favorite! You can make your own (here is my recipe!) or use store bought. My go to store bought BBQ sauce is Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Chicken drumsticks on a grill, being brushed with BBQ sauce

How to grill bbq chicken on a gas grill

I am only a recent gas grill owner, and despite my resistance as a “charcoal forever” person, there is something to be said for both the convenience and larger cooking surface that comes with a gas grill. Here is how to grill BBQ Chicken on gas or propane.

  1. The only way to know that your chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer, like this one. Be sure to have one on hand.
  2. Heat all burners on the grill to medium heat. Arrange chicken skin side down on the grates and cook with the lid closed for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over, then close the lid and cook for another 4 minutes. Repeat this until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F. This should take about 15-20 minutes total.
  3. Towards the end of the cooking time (after flipping chicken 3-4 times) brush chicken with BBQ sauce. Brush one side, flip, and brush the other side. Chicken should be done or almost done when you brush with the BBQ sauce so the sauce doesn’t burn. The chicken can stay on the grill for a few minutes after brushing with sauce to allow the sauce to thicken and glaze the chicken.
Grilled Chicken Thigh and drumsticks

How to grill BBQ chicken on a charcoal grill

I am a big fan of our Weber Charcoal Grill and most of the time that is what we use to grill. Although it does take a little more time than a gas grill, I usually prefer the flavor of charcoal grilled foods. Here is how to grill BBQ chicken on charcoal:

  1. The only way to know that your chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer, like this one. Be sure to have one on hand.
  2. Light charcoal using your preferred method (chimney or lighter fluid). When flames have died down and charcoal has ashed over (usually this takes about 20 minutes) arrange the charcoal in an even layer in the bottom of the grill.
  3. Arrange chicken skin side down on the grates and cook with the lid closed for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over, then close the lid and cook for another 4 minutes. Repeat this until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F. This should take about 15-20 minutes total.
  4. Towards the end of the cooking time (after flipping chicken 3-4 times) brush chicken with BBQ sauce. Brush one side, flip, and brush the other side. Chicken should be done or almost done when you brush with the BBQ sauce so the sauce doesn’t burn. The chicken can stay on the grill for a few minutes after brushing with sauce to allow the sauce to thicken and glaze the chicken.
Grilled BBQ Chicken thighs and drumsticks

When to put BBQ sauce on grilled chicken

Because BBQ sauce is high in sugar, it will burn if you put it on the chicken too early. It is best to brush the chicken with BBQ sauce in the last few minutes of cooking. This will allow the sauce to caramelize and intensify the flavor, but not give it time to burn.

What are the best chicken parts for BBQ chicken?

You can use whatever cuts of chicken you like – personally, I like thighs and drumsticks with the bone in and skin on. The bone and skin will help keep the chicken moist and give it more flavor. Even if you don’t eat the skin (I don’t), it is worth it to leave it on during cooking to keep the chicken juicy. If you choose to make chicken breasts, try to use bone in as well to avoid drying the chicken out.

What sides are good with BBQ Chicken

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Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe

Prep 5 minutes
Cook 17 minutes
Marinating Time 1 hour
Servings 8 Servings

Ingredients 

  • 3.5 pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks bone in, skin on
  • 1 cup BBQ Sauce

For Spice Rub

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp cayenne optional

Instructions 

  • Mix together all spices for spice rub in a small bowl.
  • Liberally sprinkle spice mixture all over chicken. Use your hands to lightly rub into chicken, getting under skin when possible. Allow to sit for at least an hour, but overnight is better.

On a gas grill

  • The only way to know that your chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer, like this one. Be sure to have one on hand.
  • Heat all burners on the grill to medium heat. Arrange chicken skin side down on the grates and cook with the lid closed for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over, then close the lid and cook for another 4 minutes. Repeat this until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F. This should take about 15-20 minutes total.
  • Towards the end of the cooking time (after flipping chicken 3-4 times) brush chicken with BBQ sauce. Brush one side, flip, and brush the other side. Chicken should be done or almost done when you brush with the BBQ sauce so the sauce doesn't burn. The chicken can stay on the grill for a few minutes after brushing with sauce to allow the sauce to thicken and glaze the chicken.

On a charcoal grill

  • The only way to know that your chicken is fully cooked is to use an instant read thermometer, like this one. Be sure to have one on hand.
  • Light charcoal using your preferred method (chimney or lighter fluid). When flames have died down and charcoal has ashed over (usually this takes about 20 minutes) arrange the charcoal in an even layer in the bottom of the grill.
  • Arrange chicken skin side down on the grates and cook with the lid closed for about 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over, then close the lid and cook for another 4 minutes. Repeat this until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 F. This should take about 15-20 minutes total.
  • Towards the end of the cooking time (after flipping chicken 3-4 times) brush chicken with BBQ sauce. Brush one side, flip, and brush the other side. Chicken should be done or almost done when you brush with the BBQ sauce so the sauce doesn't burn. The chicken can stay on the grill for a few minutes after brushing with sauce to allow the sauce to thicken and glaze the chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 361kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 1207mg | Potassium: 389mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 873IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Did you like this recipe?Please comment, rate and share! And don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @foxandbriar AND #foxandbriar so I can see what you made!
Hello! I’m Meghan.

I am so glad that you are here! I am the recipe developer, photographer, and writer here at my blog Fox and Briar. I am a passionate, self-taught home cook and believe that most things are better homemade and that good food doesn’t need to be complicated.

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