The Only BBQ Chicken Recipe You Need

bbq chicken recipe on serving plate

It is no secret that chicken is Canada’s favourite meat. And while burgers and steak are the first meats Canadians turn to when the fire up their grills, chicken isn’t far behind.

One of the things that makes chicken such a great grilling option is the fact that each part of the chicken lends itself to a different BBQ chicken recipe.

You have the option of:

  • Whole chicken
  • Spatchcocked chicken
  • Drumsticks
  • Thighs
  • Wings

Between succulent grilled chicken breast and BBQ chicken wing recipes, whether you want a hearty main or some delicious, appetizing finger-food, there are lots of options available.

But if you really want to make the best BBQ chicken recipe, you need the must have grilling equipment that is up to the task.

In this article, you’ll find one of the best BBQ chicken recipes around — but you’ll also get the inside scoop on the grilling tools you need to get the most out of that grilled chicken breast.

When it comes to high quality BBQ chicken the options are practically limitless, and checking out these Fire Food Chef cooking tips and product reviews is the best way to educate yourself about the full range of BBQ chicken possibilities.

A Quick Guide to Grilling, Char-Broiling, and Smoking

Before we dive into the recipe, here is a brief run down of some important terms.

Broadly speaking, grilling is used to refer to any approach to barbecuing that uses a grill to produce direct or indirect heat for cooking.

Char-broiling, on the other hand, is grilling that happens using charcoal grills rather than gas grills. While gas makes it easier to control heat, charcoal gives the meat a unique flavour that many barbecue fans can’t get enough of.

Smoking, on the other hand, uses indirect heat that may or may not be generated by a conventional barbecue. For example, if you check out Rec Tec pellet grill reviews you will find plenty of pellet smokers that are used solely to generate indirect heat for the kind of low and slow cooking that smokers excel at.

In this recipe, we will be making use of both types of grilling: indirect smoking to give it that distinct smoky flavour, and char-broiling for that fiery, blackened taste.  

picture of a bqq chicken on a bbq

Making the Perfect BBQ Chicken

Now that you’re clear on the strengths and weaknesses of different barbecuing options, you’re ready to start cooking.  

This recipe uses two kinds of heat to cook the chicken, infusing it with lots of smoky flavour before finishing it over a charcoal fire.

One of the benefits of combination grills is they make it easy to switch between grilling and smoking, but you should be able to prepare the following BBQ chicken recipe on a standard barbecue.

1. Preparation

Preparation is probably one of the most under-appreciated aspects of grilling meat. While you can simply take a chicken breast out of the fridge, slather some store-bought barbecue sauce on it, and toss it on the grill, the best BBQ chicken recipes require a little more forethought.

This recipe is going to use a whole chicken, and the method we’ll be using is called butterflying (sometimes referred to as spatchcocking). The benefit of butterflying a chicken is that it makes it a lot easier to cook the bird evenly, because it is laid out on the grill in roughly equal thickness. 

To start, place a whole chicken on a clean cutting board, breast-side down. Cut along the edge of the spine with a pair of scissors or shears, severing it from the ribs, and remove (you can freeze it to use in soup stock later).

Curl the ribs back and flip over, pressing the chicken down with the heel your palm. This should flatten the bird out, readying it for seasoning.   

One of the eternal questions among BBQ aficionados is the comparative merits of marinade vs. dry rub. While both have their advantages, for the purposes of this recipe we will be using a combination of dry rub and BBQ sauce.

In a bowl, combine the following spices:

  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander

Coat the chicken thoroughly in these spices, and set aside.

2. Making the Sauce

One of the best ways to get the most out of BBQ chicken is to use both a dry rub and a sauce. This will ensure that the chicken stays moist and juicy while it cooks, and infuse it with a variety of complex flavours.

To make the BBQ sauce for chicken, combine the following ingredients in a small mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

3. Grilling

The chicken is now ready to be cooked. Bank the charcoal to one side of the grill, and let it reach a temperature of between 225 and 250 degrees. Throw in some hardwood chips to generate smoke, put the whole chicken on the indirect side of the grill, and cover. Let it cook for about fifty minutes.

Cover the chicken in BBQ sauce, and shift it over to direct heat for ten minutes, or until it starts to char. Try to avoid flipping it more than once or twice.

4. Serving

Remove the chicken from the barbecue, and cut into pieces to serve. This recipe is perfect for two people, as the chicken can be easily divided into two equal parts.

Since you’ve put so much trouble into making your own sauce, having some extra BBQ sauce for chicken on hand for dipping is a great way to maximize the flavour.

One of the great joys of barbecue is fine-tuning your skills and learning different techniques and approaches to help you tackle more complicated recipes.

If you are passionate about grilling, pushing your abilities as a chef will be incredibly reward — and will also mean a steady supply of great food!

And if you want to learn more about the art of grilling or are interested in reading grill and smoker reviews, Fire Food Chef has hundreds more recipes and product guides to help you bring you grill skill to the next level.