Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs are incredibly flavorful and juicy. Bone in skin on chicken thighs are basted while grilling and finished with a homemade BBQ sauce.
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Why Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs Are What You Want To Cook for a Crowd
Grilled barbecue chicken thighs may be the ultimate crowd pleaser. They are economical, go with just about any side dish, easy-to-eat, and most people love them.
The biggest reason they are not more popular is they’re not as foolproof as hot dogs and burgers. But if you follow this simple grilled BBQ chicken thighs recipe, you’ll be grilling chicken thighs like a master in no time.
Why This Is the Recipe You Want To Try
The two different sauces combine to create a complex flavor profile and ensure that the chicken thighs remain moist even if you cook them for a few extra minutes.
The vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in the basting sauce imparts the chicken with a slight tang while the sweeter finishing sauce forms a crispy glaze.
Ingredients For Barbecue Chicken Thighs
For this barbecued chicken thighs recipe, you'll need:
- Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
For the basting sauce, you'll need:
- White vinegar
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- Unsalted butter
For the finishing sauce, you'll need:
- Tomato sauce
- White onions, minced
- Brown sugar
- Black pepper, freshly ground
- Mustard powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Liquid smoke
Making BBQ Chicken Thighs on Grill
To make the basting sauce:
- Place all the basting sauce ingredients in a saucepan.
- Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
To make the finishing BBQ sauce:
- Place all the barbecue sauce ingredients in a saucepan.
- Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- For less chunky sauce, use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until smooth.
To grill chicken thighs:
- Dry the chicken with a paper towel and trim off any excess fat.
- Place the chicken pieces on a baking tray and let them come up to room temperature.
- Heat the grill to medium, about 350°F to 375°F. It is critical for the grill to reach the correct temperature, and since built-in thermometers are not always accurate, use a separate grill thermometer or temp gun if you have one.
- Place the chicken bone-up on the grill directly over the heat and baste with the basting sauce. Close the lid.
- Grill for ten minutes, basting midway through the cooking time.
- Flip the chicken thighs over and baste. If the thighs are cooking too quickly, move them to the cooler part of the charcoal grill or lower the temperature on the gas grill.
- Grill the thighs for another five minutes with the lid down, then give the chicken a good slathering of finishing sauce.
- Close the lid and grill until the thighs’ internal temperature reaches the desired temperature. And if you are wondering, what temp to grill chicken thighs to, the answer is 165° to allow for carry-over cooking.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs on Gas Grill VS How to Grill Chicken Thighs on Charcoal Grill
Grilling with charcoal is more involved than grilling with gas. Using charcoal requires patience and planning since you must control the heat naturally. But the trade-off is that one-of-a-kind charcoal flavor.
You will need to create a two-zone grilling surface when setting up your charcoal grill for this recipe. This video from Weber shows how to do it. After setting up your grill, you will want to continue to monitor the chicken, check the grill temperature, and regulate the heat using the venting system.
You can use different chicken pieces or go with boneless chicken thighs if you prefer. However, you will need to keep a close eye on the chicken to make sure it doesn’t overcook since chicken from different parts of the bird cook at different rates.
Don’t feel like you must use a particular basting or finishing sauce for this recipe. If you already have a favorite sauce, go ahead and use that one instead. You can still use the other tips and tricks in this recipe to make the best-grilled thighs ever.
Equipment For Barbecue Chicken Thighs
When it comes to grilling chicken thighs, there are some must-have tools and some stuff that is nice to have. The essentials include:
- A grill. Anything from an inexpensive kettle grill to a top-of-the-line gas grill will work. But what won’t work are camp grills or any other style of grill without a lid.
- Long-handled tongs. Choose long-handled tongs that will not tear the chicken wings.
- Basting brush. A good silicone basting brush won't catch on fire and will last a long time.
- Instant read thermometer. A good meat thermometer is important to know you are not serving undercooked chicken.
Some nice-to-have- equipment includes:
- Temp gun. For great grilling, you need to know the exact temperature of each part of your grill. A temp gun makes it easy.
- Grilling gloves. These heat-resistant gloves make burns a thing of the past and give you more confidence when grilling.
- Chimney starter. This device makes lighting charcoal much easier. Choose a chimney starter that fits the size of your grill.
What Goes With Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs
Anything that comes off the grill will pair well with this recipe. Grilled vegetables, such as corn, asparagus, and zucchini, are perfect. Baked beans, mashed potatoes, and cornbread are also wonderful choices.
How To Store Extra BBQ Chicken Thighs
Let leftover chicken thighs cool to room temperature, then put them in an airtight container. The thighs should keep in the fridge for up to three days. You can freeze the thighs for up to two months.
- Spread the chicken thighs on a baking tray and put the tray in the freezer until frozen.
- Transfer the chicken thighs to a freezer bag and put them in the back of the freezer.
What’s the Best Way to Reheat BBQ Chicken Thighs
A good way to reheat grilled barbeque chicken thighs in the oven:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the chicken from the thawed chicken from the fridge and place the thighs on a baking dish. Let the chicken come up to room temperature while the oven is preheating.
- Sprinkle some water between the pieces of chicken. The water will create steam which will prevent the thighs from drying out.
- Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil.
- Reheat the chicken until the internal temperature to ensure it is 165°F, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs
- 3 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon red pepper
- ½ cup butter
- 18 ounces tomato sauce
- ¼ cup minced onion
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2-3 teaspoons liquid smoke
- Mix all the ingredients for the basting sauce in a medium pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Mix all ingredients for the finishing sauce in a medium pot and simmer for about 30 minutes.
- Heat the grill to about 350°F.
- Place the chicken thighs skin-side down on the grill, baste with the basting sauce, and then baste again every 5 minutes.
- At the 10 minute mark, flip the chicken over and baste once.
- After five minutes, add the finishing sauce to the chicken thighs.
- The chicken should be done after about 20 to 25 minutes. Test for doneness to ensure the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F before serving.