1. Use a meat thermometer
Using a meat thermometer is the best way to cook the chicken to perfection. Chicken thighs should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken breast should be cooked to 160 degrees. Make sure the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the chicken and not touching any bones.
2. Consider Brining
Brining improves the chicken’s flavor making it juicy and deliciously tender. However, if you’re short on time, skip this step and season the chicken generously with salt and pepper before cooking.
Important Note: Chicken that has been brined browns faster and you’ll need to careful it doesn’t burn.
Simple brine recipe:
- 6 tablespoons of salt
- 1 quart of cold water
Dissolve salt into water in a gallon zip-lock bag. Add chicken, remove air and seal. Refrigerate for about 1.5 hours.
3. Use a good BBQ rub
Rubs give plenty of flavor without the burning risk of BBQ sauces. As much as we love BBQ sauce, and we really do… it’s best applied in the last couple of minutes as a general rule.
Apply the rub generously to all the chicken pieces, try to run as much under the skin as you can.
Simple spice rub:
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground allspice
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
4. Apply BBQ sauce at the end
The sugar in BBQ sauce will cause it to burn if it’s applied too early. You want to smother the chicken in the sauce during the last 2 minutes of cooking. Bush the chicken with sauce, cook for about 1 minute, turn over, brush again and cook 1 more minute. Before serving, brush the chicken with more BBQ sauce. I like to have even more sauce at the table for dipping.
You should plan on using about 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce for about 8 thighs (not including any sauce you have at the table).
5. Sear first, then cook at a low heat
This creates a delicious browned exterior while keeping the inside from over cooking.
Set up the Grill with one side on High and the other on Med-Low, or bank the coals mainly on one side for a charcoal BBQ.
Starting on the hot side of the grill, sear the chicken for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Be very vigilant during this period, you don’t want the chicken to burn, and if you get any flare ups, move the chicken to a different area of the grill.
Move the chicken pieces to the side with lower heat and finish cooking. If you’re cooking chicken breast it works best to close the lid, this helps the interior cook faster, so it is done before the exterior starts to burn.