Classic Barbecue Chicken 4.000

(Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Smoke Signals Oct 15, 2014

There is something nostalgic about the flavor of grilled chicken slathered in barbecue sauce. The sense memory of barbecued chicken, moist and succulent and dripping with sauce (see related recipe), gives the dish a timeless appeal.

You'll cook over a direct fire for a few minutes, over indirect for a while, then again over direct heat. Grilling the meat over the fire crisps the skin, while cooking it indirectly keeps the skin from burning and the meat from drying out.

Make Ahead: The sauce, if you are making it rather than using a commercial sauce, can be prepared up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

4 - 6

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-6 servings

  • 4 to 4 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces, such as drumsticks, thighs, chicken breast halves (6 pieces total)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup Kansas City-Style Barbecue Sauce or your favorite sauce, plus more for serving (see related recipe)

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Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal; when the coals are ready, distribute them on one side of the cooking area. For a medium fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange them skin side down on the direct-heat side of the grill; cook, uncovered, until the skin begins to blacken, 5 to 10 minutes. Use long-handled tongs to move the chicken to the indirect-heat side of the grill, turning the pieces over so they are skin side up. Close the lid; cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until the interior temperature of the thickest part of the meat on each piece (taken away from the bone) registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (The meat will not be cooked through; move smaller pieces sooner as needed.)

Liberally coat the skin side with some of the sauce; move the pieces to the direct-heat side of the grill and cook uncovered for 5 minutes. Turn the chicken over, skin side down, coat with more sauce and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.

Turn the chicken over one more time, so the skin side is up. Slather with more sauce. Cook uncovered for 2 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees on the thermometer.

Transfer to a platter; let the chicken rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the remainder of the sauce at the table.

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Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Becky Krystal and Andrew Sikkenga.

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