Quick Tips, Reviews & Cool Stuff



Product Reviews






BBQ Chicken

Cook that bird like it should be cooked

BBQ Chicken is often overlooked as real bbq, but when cooked well, our fine feathered friend can become a gloriously tasty treat indeed.



The most forgiving piece of the chicken to cook is the bone-in thigh. Compared to the breast, the thigh has a higher fat content and is less-likely to dry out over your fire.


I have two different methods of cooking chicken (for the sake of this website). First is slow and low at 235-250 degrees until done. Second is indirect heat on my weber kettle, somewhere around 400-450 degrees.


The walkthrough below is for slow and low, but I actually prefer high heat cooking, as I tend to get a much better bite through and crispier skin. Bite-through is the term used for judging in competition for how well skin remains on the chicken when a judge "bites through" the piece. The bbq judge should be able to bite cleanly through the skin without it pulling off the bird, being chewy, or leathery. When I do my next high heat chicken cook, I'll post it up here, and link off this page so you can see both methods.


First thing you should do with nearly all meats after removing from the packaging is rinse it off and pat it dry.


Lay your chicken out on a cutting board, and separate the skin from the meat on one side of the thigh. This will allow you to lift the skin, exposing the meat underneath to add your rub.


bbq chicken


I like to remove the triangle of fat and gristle that runs along the bone. Most folks don't even realize it's there, but once I started removing it, it just became habit.


removing chicken trianble


The next step is optional. I show it, simply because it seems to be catching on in the world of competition. I myself, am not a huge fan of the process, but it's "showy" in its own way.


With a sharp knife, scrape the underside of the skin to remove the extra fat hiding there.


Chicken with skin removed


Next, apply your favorite rub. Note, chicken is more delicate than pork ribs, or shourlder, so you don't need to put a thick coating of rub. Also, because its under the skin, you have less rub cook away or fall off. Therefore, a good sprinkling will suffice. Make sure to hit the whole piece of chicken with your bbq rub. Top, sides, and bottom.

Fold the skin back onto the thigh and sprinkle rub on it as well.


rubbed chicken


Allow your rubbed chicken to sit in the fridge for a few hours if possible, to give the rub time to set and penetrate the meat a bit.


I like to "roll" my thighs a little bit. Basically it's just tucking the edges underneath to give an even appearance.


rubbed bbq chicken on plate


Fire up your smoker and get it dialed in to approx 235. Add a small chunk of wood to the coals, if you want smokiness. Don't overdo the wood. Chicken will readily absorb smoke flavor and is easy to turn it bitter from too much.


Now.. leave it alone. If you've paid attention to the other pages on this site, you know 2 important rules. 1. It's done when it's done. 2. You NEED a thermometer. Insert your thermometer probe into one of the thighs and cover up your smoker.


bbq chicken on the smoker


After 30-40 minutes, you can spray or mop if you desire.


Next comes another decision. You can cook these completely over the smoker, or you can finish them off over direct heat on a regular grill. Finishing on a grill does wonders for skin and to caramelize your sauce.


When the internal temp reaches approxmiately 150 degrees, Coat your chicken with your favorite bbq sauce (if sauce is desired). Return the chicken to the smoker until it hits an internal temp of 160 degrees, or move to direct heat and grill until done.


Be careful when grilling over direct heat that you do not burn the sauce you just applied. After a few times cooking this way, you will figure out how far to keep your bbq chicken from the fire to allow it to finish cooking without charring.


When done, remove the bbq chicken thighs from the grill/smoker and put on a plate to rest. LET IT REST. As with all meats, when chicken is cooked, the juices migrate to the center of the bird. Resting the thigh after cooking allows time for the juices to redistribute throughout the piece of meat.

So let it rest for 5 minutes or so.


finished bbq chicken finished cut chicken


Hope you get some use out of this walkthrough. Remember, if you see anything of interest, help support this site by clicking through our ads.