How to Cook Barbecue Chicken

Although those serious about barbecuing may be primarily interested in re-creating the perfect ribs or brisket, barbecued chicken is a delicious crowd-pleaser. This simple preparation should be a part of every barbecue-enthusiast’s arsenal.

We’ve all had bad barbecue chicken. Dried out flesh with burnt sauce on the outside is not appealing and can be frustrating for those who are trying to hone their skills on the barbecue. On the contrary, many people have removed a beautiful-looking piece of chicken from the grill only to find that the inside is raw. However, a few secrets will have you grilling delicious, tender chicken with just the right amount of smoky sauce.

There are a couple methods that result in delicious barbecue chicken. In the first method, you first boil the chicken pieces until done. The advantage to this method is that you ensure that the chicken is completely cooked before placing on the grill. This reduces the risk of food borne illness. Additionally, many believe that the boiling produces a more tender piece of chicken. Once you have boiled the chicken pieces, simply place them on the heated grill and coat in your barbecue sauce of choice. One advantage to this method is that you can do much of the preparation in advance and only worry about heating the chicken when it is served. The major drawback to this technique is that the flavor is one-dimensional. Because you are only saucing the outside of the chicken right before serving, only the outer layer of chicken will be flavored. This can be mitigated by flavoring the poaching water, however, it is difficult to infuse flavor in chicken using this method.

The other option for barbecuing chicken is to cook it for a long time over very low heat. First, take your chicken pieces and rub them with a spice rub, or simply salt and pepper. Place it on the well-oiled grates of a grill that has been pre-heated to 230-250 degrees Fahrenheit. Slowly cook the chicken until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. At this point, baste your chicken with your preferred barbecue sauce and let cook for a bit longer, until the sauce is browned and caramelized. Saucing your chicken at the end ensures that it does not burn or blacken. Don’t worry, the spice rub and slow cooking method will provide plenty of flavor to the interior of your chicken.

The above-listed methods for cooking chicken are designed for chicken pieces. Another option is cooking an entire chicken on the grill. To do this, remove the giblets from your chicken and rinse the bird. Season the inside and outside of the chicken with salt, pepper, and whatever other spices you would like. Flavors that pair well with chicken include rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme. Prepare a charcoal grill by raking the hot coals to one side so that you can cook on the indirect heat of the coal-less side. Alternatively, use a gas grill and light only one of the burners, reserving the unlit space for cooking your chicken. Coat the grates with oil and place the chicken, breast side down, on the unheated side of the grill for 30 minutes. Flip the bird over and repeat on the opposite side for 30 minutes, until the skin is browned and the meat is done. Chicken is safe to eat when it has reached a temperature of 180 degrees. Let the chicken sit for 15 minutes before carving, and enjoy!

Whether you want a simple chicken addition to add to your picnic spread, or you are interested in preparing roast chicken dinners on your grill, barbecuing chicken is easy. By following the directions above, you will be able to create moist, succulent chicken every time.

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