Barbecued chicken is a staple of summer cookouts—no matter that it’s actually grilled chicken slathered in sauce rather than proper barbecue (the term barbecue is generally reserved for food cooked slowly over a smoky fire). This is a simple back-pocket recipe that, once you get over the naming discrepancies, you can keep on hand for whenever the urge for juicy, saucy, crispy-edged chicken hits.
Watch Lisa Lavery of the CHOW Test Kitchen make this simple chicken dish in an episode of our video series The Easiest Way.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for coating the grill
Freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce:
Combine all of the ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring until completely incorporated. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the flavors have mingled and the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If not using right away, cover and refrigerate the barbecue sauce for up to 2 weeks.
For the chicken:
Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium (about 350°F to 450°F) and rub the grates with a towel dipped in oil. Meanwhile, if you’re using chicken breasts (either boneless or bone-in), cut them in half crosswise. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and place them on a baking sheet. Coat them on all sides with the measured oil, and season with salt and pepper.
When the grill is ready, place the chicken on it (skin-side down if using skin-on), close the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the bottom of the chicken pieces, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken over, close the grill, and cook until grill marks appear on the second side, about 5 minutes more.
Reserve 1 cup of the barbecue sauce in a separate bowl. Flip the chicken again and brush about a quarter of the remaining sauce on the chicken pieces. Close the grill and cook for 5 minutes. Flip and brush the chicken, and continue to flip and brush every 5 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece reads 160°F to 165°F and the meat near the bone is no longer pink, about 10 to 15 minutes more (about 25 to 30 minutes total cooking time). Remove the chicken to a clean serving platter and serve immediately, passing the reserved bowl of barbecue sauce on the side.