Barbecued Chicken

There are few dishes as American as barbecued chicken, even though cultures across the world have their own variations. When you plan a backyard party or just desire some quality comfort food, you want this fantastic barbecued chicken recipe.

History of Barbecued Chicken

Barbecue holds roots in the Caribbean, most likely from the Taino Indians. They smoked meats over frames made from green sticks. In a travel account from 1706, an Englishman recorded an evening in Jamaica when they had three whole pigs cooked with a rack over sticks with the natives.

Barbecue then made it to American through Virginia, where it continued to move south and west. By the early 1800s, it had made its way to Texas. It’s still a staple in the south and west. During the Civil War, families hosted public barbecues where they rallied support for local troops.

During the late 1800s, barbecued meat started becoming commercially available. It’s been common for potluck and communal meals. Barbecue tents also became popular where cooks could share their love for the food.

During the 1900s, it became strongly connected to African American culture. The slow cooking process of inexpensive meat cuts created a cost-effective way to feed the family. That’s why it’s an integral part of the soul food cuisine.

Unique Characteristics of Barbecued Chicken

While many people believe that barbecuing and grilling meat are the same thing, they aren’t. Grilling is a basic form of cooking over an open flame or high heat source. Authentic barbecue, on the other hand, requires cooking slowly over indirect heat.

Many recipes today create the same flavor without spending hours cooking. While the taste is there, what’s missing is the tender, moist texture that comes from the slow-cooking process.

Real barbecue is best suited for tough, big cuts of meat. It’s used for pulled pork, ribs and brisket. Grilling is best for quick-cooking foods such as steaks, hamburgers, vegetables, seafood and hot dogs.

Barbecued Chicken Recipe

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Our barbecued chicken recipe from Taste of Home helps you to achieve the same flavor without spending hours slow cooking.

Total Time

Prep: 15 min. Grill: 35 min.

Makes:  12 servings


  • 2 broiler/fryer chickens (3 to 4 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces each
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot pepper sauce


Step 1

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Grill skin side down, uncovered, on a greased grill rack over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Step 2

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, make barbecue sauce by heating oil over medium heat. Add onion; saute until tender. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Turn chicken; brush with barbecue sauce. Grill 15-25 minutes longer, brushing frequently with sauce, until a thermometer reads 165° when inserted in the breast and 170°-175° in the thigh.

Here’s one old-school way to make barbecued chicken.

If you would rather cook it in the oven, try this recipe instead.


There are some ways to vary the barbecued chicken recipe to make it more worldly. In Asia, the chicken is cubed and marinated in a soy-based sauce instead. Then, it’s put on skewers and grilled. For an Australian feel, you’ll want to add the barbecue sauce to grilled chicken wings for a unique flavor. It’s also possible to use a jerk spice to make it like they do in Jamaica.

Cook the chicken in your pressure cooker or slow cooker to get maximum tenderness from it. You might also opt for a regional variation. For example, in the southeast, cooks often use a mayonnaise or egg-based white sauce to dip the chicken in. Just like with California Pizza Kitchen, you can add the barbecue chicken to pizza for a combination of two fun flavors.

There’s also the option to make a sweeter sauce with mustard or add vinegar for a bite. In the northeast, cooks like to batter the chicken with egg and make it crispy before cooking. You might even consider beer-can chicken, which involves grilling a chicken with a can of beer open inside the chicken.

Enjoy the Meal

There’s no limit to the ways you can make a barbecue chicken recipe your own. Experiment with the flavors and taste test each one. We are sure you can find some friends and family to give their opinions until you find a favorite.