This easy BBQ chicken is flavored with both a smoky dry rub and a homemade BBQ sauce. Perfect alongside baked beans, grilled veggies, or a simple salad!
Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe
This BBQ chicken recipe has a secret that’s not really a secret at all, but 90% of people don’t do it. It all starts in a ziploc bag hours, or even a full day before you start grilling, and no, it’s not BBQ sauce being dumped in there. We’ve tried marinating BBQ chicken, but that sauce just doesn’t soak in and flavor the chicken enough.
Our little trick is life changing.
Every year we end up having friends over for a couple of BBQ potlucks and every year we go back and forth on what meat we want to eat. We don’t always want a burger — though you should for sure check out our Homemade Hamburger recipe your life will be changed forever.
What do you make if you’re not serving hamburgers but still need easy for BYOM potlucks?
We are always disappointed in plain BBQ chicken as it doesn’t have a ton of flavor, but adding a BBQ dry rub the chicken and a drizzle of oil to help it stick in a bag for as many hours as you can (up to 24 hours) will flavor the chicken in a whole new way!
Grilled BBQ Chicken Ingredients
Here’s what you’ll need to make this grilled bbq chicken breast recipe:
- Homemade BBQ Chicken Dry Rub
- Olive oil
- Skinless chicken breasts
- BBQ sauce (homemade or your favorite store brand)
Can I Use a Store-Bought BBQ Rub?
Yes, you can use any store-bought seasoning for BBQ chicken, but we have perfected our Smoky BBQ rub and store it in a mason jar all year round. So, pretty much you can use anything for the BBQ chicken seasoning, but that would just be silly when our rub recipe is the best. 😉
How to Make BBQ Chicken
I’ve given detailed instructions on how to make BBQ sauce chicken in the recipe card below. Here are the basics:
- Start out by adding our Smoky BBQ Rub, a drizzle of oil, and the chicken breasts to a Ziploc bag and let it sit in the fridge.
- When you’re ready, let the chicken sit out on the counter for 5 minutes before you stick it on a preheated grill.
- Preheat your grill to high heat, then add your chicken and turn it down to medium heat, or even medium low if you have more time. Heating your grill this way will give those beautiful grill marks on the chicken and then turning it down allows it to cook a little slower so it stays juicy!
How Long Do You Grill Chicken?
Not sure how long to bbq chicken? We first grill the bbq chicken breasts for 4-6 minutes, or until the chicken releases from the grill. Then, we flip the chicken and grill for another 3 minutes before flipping one last time and grilling for 3 more minutes. In total, that’s roughly 10-12 minutes.
Do You HAVE TO Preheat Your Grill?
Oh yes, please preheat your grill. Just because it’s fire doesn’t mean it’s perfectly up to temp just because you turned it on. Think of it like adding chicken to a cold oven.
How to Tell When Grilled Chicken Is Done
Color, according to the USDA doesn’t indicate doneness, so instead you should be more worried about it being 165 degrees Farenheit. Especially with BBQ since the rubs, smoke, etc. all can leave a little pink on meat.
Can You Grill Chicken from Frozen?
You really shouldn’t BBQ chicken from frozen as the higher temperature means that you’ll be cooking the outside faster than the frozen center, which can lead to over cooked, burned or undercooked meat.
Can I Make BBQ Chicken in the Oven?
If you don’t have a BBQ or live in an area where you can’t have a BBQ — hello, NYC! — then you can cook BBQ chicken in your oven instead of a grill.
You have two options: 1) cook in the oven 100%, and 2) cook on a stove top and transfer to the oven.
Cooking in the oven just means placing the chicken in a pan at 350ºF for 30 minutes, basting with bbq sauce for the last 10 minutes.
I really like to cook stove top because I can get the color and that caramelized flavor by starting the chicken in a sauté pan or grill pan. Just like the grill, start the pan at high heat, add the chicken and turn to medium heat. Once color is achieved, flip it over and repeat. Once you have browned both sides, remove to a pan and cook at 350ºF for 15 to 20 minutes.
Can BBQ Chicken Be Frozen?
Freezer meal BBQ chicken is a big yes, just add your rub and freeze in a sealed bag for up to 2 months if you’ve used a Food Saver. Freezing cooked chicken is a little different. Yes you can do it, but absolutely make sure you use that Food Saver I linked to above or the chicken will quickly lose flavor and will become tough.
How Long Will BBQ Chicken Last in the Fridge?
BBQ chicken will last in the fridge for up to 2 days after cooking if it is properly stored.
What Goes With BBQ Chicken?
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone else would always pick the sides for a BBQ? Don’t worry, I’ve totally got you covered with these BBQ chicken sides:
- Pasta Salad Recipes, and we have a lot!
- Easy Green Beans with Bacon
- Southern Mac ‘N Cheese
- Pesto Butter Veggie Foil Packets
- Fruit Salad with Lemon Dressing
- Best Broccoli Salad
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
Is BBQ Chicken Healthy?
Because of the sugar in the BBQ rub and the sugar in the BBQ sauce, it’s not perfectly healthy, but compared to a creamy chicken pasta or something, this simple grilled bbq sauce chicken is healthier so don’t fret too much.
Is BBQ Chicken Keto?
Boy, I had to double check google on this one as I often forget what’s keto, but if you cut down on the sugar and choose a low sugar BBQ you could actually call this BBQ chicken a Keto friendly recipe.
Is BBQ Chicken Gluten Free?
Yup! Unless you pick a BBQ sauce that for some crazy pants reason has gluten.
Is BBQ Chicken Paleo?
Sadly BBQ chicken isn’t paleo as the sugars and such wouldn’t have been found years ago.
Tips for the Best BBQ Chicken
Here’s the trick, do not put BBQ sauce on the chicken until after you’ve flipped it for the first time. The BBQ sauce will just burn too quickly because of the sugars.
After you’ve flipped the chicken, baste it with BBQ sauce and let it cook for 3 minutes, flip and baste and turn it right back over, quickly baste that side and flip it right back for the last three minutes of cooking. We like to add a little more sauce right before serving, but that’s up to you.
In general, when grilling it’s important to always have a cooked and raw plate by the grill so that no cooked food touches raw juices. Also, keep the meat apart on the grill so that no meat touches another raw meat.
Tip: You can baste your grilled chicken with either our Classic BBQ Sauce or our Vinegar-Based BBQ Sauce.
More Grilled Chicken Recipes:
Looking for more chicken recipes? We always are too, so make sure you try the following:
- Grilled Hawaiian Chicken
- Grilled Huli Huli Chicken
- Garlic Parmesan Grilled Chicken Wings
- Grilled Honey Lemon Basil Chicken
- Quick Oregano Grilled Chicken
- Balsamic Grilled Chicken Salad
- Grilled Sweet and Sour Chicken
- Tuscan Grilled Chicken Kabobs
- ALL OF OUR GRILLING RECIPES!
Favorite BBQ Chicken
- 6 Tablespoons [smoky BBQ rub]
- olive oil
- 4 chicken breasts, skinless
- [homemade BBQ sauce], , or your favorite store brand
- Add the rub, chicken breasts, and a small drizzle of oil to a ziploc bag. Smoosh the chicken around in order to coat all sides with the rub. Set in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
- Pull the chicken out of the fridge to rest for 5 minutes while you preheat the grill.
- Heat the grill to high heat. Using oil drizzled over paper towels pinched in tongs, brush the oil on the grates of the grill.
- Add the chicken, top side down, and turn the heat to medium.
- Cook the chicken for 4-6 minutes or until the chicken releases from the grill.
- Flip the chicken and baste with BBQ sauce.
- Cook for 3-4 minutes, flip the chicken and baste the other side then turn it right back over to finish cooking for 3 more minutes or until 165 degrees F.
- Set on a plate, tent with foil and serve in 5 minutes.
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I love the BBQ sauce for this recipe however I found the rub to be too salty for my taste. Next time I will use less salt.
Hi Paula! Thank you so much for the feedback!
This looks amazing! Do you use boneless chicken breasts?
Thanks Denise! Yes, boneless chicken breasts.
This recipe was even better than the last one of yours that I tried! Everything perfect! Tender, juicy, not too sweet, not too hot for the kiddos and so easy. I put my grill at 450 degrees for about 7 minutes and dropped it down to 225 (since I had stuff to do in the barn and you said I could do that if I had more time. ) I had about an hour and a half extra and I thought the smoke flavor might be nice.
I was a little nervous that it would dry out but I checked the internal meat thermometer a couple of times and all seemed fine. I finished my work and turned up the grill to 350, lathered on the barbeque sauce the way you said to, and finished things out. Wonderful.
Macaroni and cheese tomorrow night!
Yay! Love to hear this! Thank you so much Dana!
I love your receipt, but you need to specific about the temperature of the grill. High? Medium? My grill goes up to 600….
Preheat your grill to high heat, then add your chicken and turn it down to medium heat, or even medium low if you have more time.
Heating your grill this way will give those beautiful grill marks on the chicken and then turning it down allows it to cook a little slower so it stays juicy!
Nice going through this and nice chicken too..lolz but i can’t get that. I guess i’m funny
Hey! Looks very delicious. Moreover, it’s not too difficult to make so I will try soon. Thanks for your sharing!
Thanks Juliana! Enjoy!!
Brittany Audra @ Audra’s Appetite
Love BBQ grilled chicken…perfect for summer cookouts! 🙂