Chef John's Barbecue Chicken Recipe -
Chef John's Barbecue Chicken  Recipe
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How to Make Barbecue Chicken
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Chef John's Barbecue Chicken

Recipe by  

"When it comes to barbecued chicken, everyone wants that nice thick glaze of sauce attached to the skin, and the only way to do it, is brush it on as it cooks. Therein lies the problem. Because of the sugar content, it only takes a minute for a barbecue sauce to go from brick-red to solid black. I just 'mark' the chicken's vulnerable skin side, then cook it all the way through in a closed grill, brushing on the glaze as it cooks."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 6 servings Change Servings
  • PREP

    20 mins
  • COOK

    40 mins

    2 hrs


  1. Cut 1/2-inch deep slashes in the skin-side of each chicken half; 2 cuts in each breast, 2 in the thigh, and 1 on the leg; remove wing tips.
  2. Whisk rice vinegar, barbeque sauce, and garlic together in large bowl. Place chicken in bowl and turn to coat chicken in the marinade. Arrange chicken halves, cut-side down, in the bottom of the marinade bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil the grate.
  4. Remove chicken from bowl, pat chicken dry with paper towels, and discard marinade. Place chicken halves, skin-side up, on a plate and season with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
  5. Cook chicken, skin-side down, on the preheated grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn chicken over, close the lid of the grill, and cook, basting with remaining barbeque sauce ever 6 minutes, until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 35 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
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Reviews More Reviews

May 27, 2014

Rack up another hit for Chef John! We woke up Memorial Day morning, looking for a simple grilled bbq chicken recipe..... This Is It! Super-Simple and Tasty. A Big Hit at our celebration. This recipe has definitely earned a spot in the regular rotation. Thanks, Chef John!

Jul 05, 2015

The chicken was good, but preparing it with the marinade is more complicated than necessary. Not sure the marinade contributed much, but if you are concerned about burning the barbecue sauce the tip to baste the chicken with it periodically is a good one.

Mar 22, 2014

Really liked this and will use it again. Did it per the recipe and video other than I used leg and thigh quarters. My only adjustment I will make the next time is to cook the skin side down longer and at slightly lower temp. I didnt cook it long enough and then my fire was so how that the bottom no skin side burnt even with no barbecue sauce applied. The part eaten was delicious and moist and a different flavor that I attribute to the vinegar.

May 27, 2014

Took quite a bit longer than 35 minutes but it was worth the wait.

Feb 02, 2015

I made this as directed, except I didn't have any rice vinegar so I used the red wine vinegar that I had. I took longer than 35 minutes, but it was the juiciest grilled chicken I've ever made! I will make this again and again.

Sep 26, 2014

I cooked this for my wife and I, and we loved it. Simple, and really, really good !

Sep 21, 2014

So finger-licking good! Made this on a whim at 9:00 p.m. and it was just fantastic. I prepped this exactly as directed and it was perfect. Flavorful, juicy, and exactly what you want in BBQ chicken. Loved it!

Jul 30, 2015

I saw this recipe in the magazine and made it one night on a whim when we lost power for a week after a big storm. I used chicken quarters with the skin removed and prepared it as described using sweet baby rays BBQ sauce. It was amazing! Quick, easy to prepared and flavorful. I've made this 6 times since that storm and family raves about it. Thank you chef John!


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  • Calories
  • 464 kcal
  • 23%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 10.6 g
  • 3%
  • Cholesterol
  • 149 mg
  • 50%
  • Fat
  • 24.2 g
  • 37%
  • Fiber
  • 0.5 g
  • 2%
  • Protein
  • 47.5 g
  • 95%
  • Sodium
  • 1583 mg
  • 63%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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