Grilled BBQ Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce

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Grilled BBQ Chicken with Homemade BBQ Sauce
Grilled BBQ Chicken enveloped in a tantalizing spice rub, slathered with Homemade Barbecue Sauce and grilled to perfection for the best juicy, smokey flavorful chicken every single time!

  • 8-10 skinless chicken drumsticksapprox. 3 pounds
  • 1tablespoon olive oil


  • 2teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2teaspoons salt
  • 1tsp EACH chili powder, onion, powder, garlic powder, brown sugar
  • 1/2tsp EACH chipotle chili powder, dried thyme, pepper

Barbecue Sauce

  • 1cup ketchup
  • 1/4cup molasses
  • 1/4cup packed brown sugar
  • 2tablespoons seedless blackberry preserves
  • 2 1/2tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2teaspoons reserved Spice Rub(from above, in directions)


  1. Whisk together all of the Spice Mix Ingredients. Remove 1 1/2 teaspoons to a saucepan to use later in your Barbecue Sauce.
  2. Drizzle chicken with 1 tablespoon olive oil and rub it all over the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken with half of the Spice Mix and rub into chicken. Flip chicken over and sprinkle with remaining spice mix (it will seem like a lot but use it all). Rub spice mix into chicken. Let chicken sit 30 minutes at room temperature OR you can cover and refrigerate up to overnight and cook later. (If you refrigerate chicken and grill later, let chicken sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling for more even cooking.)
  3. Meanwhile, add all of the Barbecue Sauce ingredients to the saucepan with the reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mix. Whisk together and simmer for 5-10 minutes for the flavors to meld.


  1. Grease grill and preheat grill to high heat. Once hot, add chicken and sear, uncovered, for 5 minutes, flip chicken over and sear an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Cover, and turn heat down to low so the temperature stays around 325 degrees F when the lid is closed. Cook 5 minutes with the lid closed, flip and cook an additional 5 minutes with the lid closed.
  3. Baste chicken with barbecue sauce and cook 1 minute, flip and cook an additional minute. Using an instant read thermometer, check temperature of chicken at the thickest part without touching the bone. Chicken is done when it registers 165-180º F on an instant read thermometer. If chicken isn’t done, continue to grill (covered) and flip chicken and baste with barbecue sauce every 3 minutes until it reaches temperature.
  4. Remove chicken to a serving platter brush with barbecue sauce. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.


  1. Line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and top with a baking/cooling rack if you have one. Lightly spray rack with nonstick cooking spray. Line drumsticks on the baking rack without touching. Let chicken set at room temperature for 30-60 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 F degrees. Bake chicken at 425 F degrees for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through.
  2. Remove chicken to a serving platter brush with barbecue sauce. Let rest 5 minutes before serving. Serve with additional barbecue sauce.

Recipe Notes

  • Remove Skin. I remove the skin from my chicken drumsticks because I am not a fan of soggy skin.  Even if the skin is crispy initially when grilled, it gets soggy when coated in the barbecue sauce. It is also more prone to cause flare-ups and burn.  If you want to grill with the skin on, eat it with the skin on or you will losoe the flavor from the rub.  Also be prepared with some water nearby the grill in case of flare ups.
  • Use all the seasonings.  The spice mix might seem like a lot of seasonings, but I promise it is the perfect amount, use ALL of it!
  • Let chicken rest.  After you rub the chicken with seasonings, let it rest for 30 minutes on the counter or tightly wrap/transfer to freezer size Ziploc bag and refrigerate up to 24 hours.  Letting it rest is life changing!
  • Don’t cook chicken straight from the refrigerator!  If your chicken has been refrigerated, let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes, this will allow your chicken to come closer to room temperature so it will cook more evenly.
  • Preheat grill with lid closed.  Preheat your grill with the lid closed so your grill gets nice and hot but sear with the lid open.  Follow specific instructions on whether grill should be open or closed.  If instructions do not specify, then that means to grill uncovered, with the lid open.
  • Use a instant read thermometer!  When it comes to checking the temperature of chicken, there is no accurate way to check without cutting your chicken open and loosing juices, then by using an instant read thermometer.  They are fast, highly accurate, and save you all the guesswork and possibly food poisoning.
  • Close lid.  With the exception of chicken breasts, and thighs,  keep the grill  lid closed as much as possible after searing. Drumsticks, leg quarters and bone-in chicken thighs need to be roasted which is accomplish when the lid is closed causing heat to surround the chicken.
  • Cook to 165°F for LIGHT meat or 180°F for DARK  meat.  While 165°F is a safe internal temperature for all chicken, 180°F will produce more tender, fall-off-the-bone dark meat.
  • Add BBQ sauce at the end.  We want to develop a nice sear on our chicken, so hold the barbecue sauce until the last few minutes of grilling.  It is also important to not add barbecue sauce until the end of grilling otherwise the sauce will burn due to the sugars in the sauce.   I like to add the barbecue sauce when my chicken is almost done, then let it grill on each side for a minute or so so the barbecue sauce caramelizes slightly then I slather my chicken with more barbecue sauce off of the grill.

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