Barbecue Chicken

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs

The juiciest chicken on the grill starts with bone-in, skin-on pieces. Ask your butcher to cut up a whole chicken or watch our helpful video here. Then dry-brine the chicken with a simple salt-and-pepper rub and let stand; prepare your sauce and get your grill going while you wait.


  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 chicken (4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (breasts halved crosswise)

  • ½ cup ketchup

  • cup apple-cider vinegar

  • ½ cup light-brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 3 finely minced garlic cloves

  • Extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Combine 1 tablespoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle mixture evenly on chicken, then set chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Let stand uncovered 1 hour.

  2. Meanwhile, bring ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic to a simmer in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer sauce to a bowl.

  3. Heat a charcoal grill, creating a two-zone fire with vents partially open. Position coals on one side of the grill for direct high heat, and leave the other side empty for indirect lower heat. (On a gas grill, turn one side on high, and leave the other burners off.) Lightly coat chicken with olive oil and place over indirect heat. Cover and cook, turning occasionally, until pieces are cooked through and a thermometer inserted into thickest parts (not touching bones) registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.

  4. Uncover grill; transfer chicken to direct heat. Brush with sauce and cook, turning frequently, until caramelized and lightly charred, about 3 to 4 minutes. Brush on more sauce as pieces come off the grill, or serve it on the side.

    test kitchens favorite grilled chicken
    Armando Rafael

Cook's Notes

Make-Ahead Tip
Our trusty barbecue sauce is ready in 10 minutes and can be made up to a week in advance.

Cooking for a Crowd
The day before serving, bake chicken in your oven at 350 degrees until pieces are cooked through, about 35 minutes; then let cool and refrigerate. About 30 minutes before it's time to eat, remove chicken from fridge. Set up your grill for direct-heat cooking, and finish as directed in step 3.

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