Grilling, Sunday dinner, Weeknight dinner
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Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

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I know the power of the dark side…of the chicken. Now, look on in despair as I use that power to annoy the barbecue purists! Ha! Haha! Hahahahaha! Ha..ahem. Sorry.

I’m cooking dark meat chicken thighs high and hot, not low and slow.2 I love the chicken shreds when I cook it low and slow, but the skin? Flabby and chewy. Blech. When I do make pulled chicken, the skin is the first thing I throw away.

That’s a tragedy. Browned, crackling chicken skin is my favorite part of the bird – almost more than the dark meat – and I don’t want to toss it aside. High heat roasting on the grill gives me the crisp skin I love. (It’s also much faster – only 45 minutes of cooking, instead of the two hours needed for low and slow chicken.)

Now, I’ve gone on and on about the benefits of homemade barbecue rub and barbecue sauce, but don’t let that stop you from trying this recipe. Good store bought rubs and sauces work just fine. But, if you find yourself at the store every other weekend in the summer, buying another bottle of sauce or jar of rub, try making a big batch of your own. You’ll be amazed how easy it is to do.


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Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x


BBQ chicken thighs recipe. Chicken thighs with a spice rub and glazed with BBQ sauce, grilled with indirect high heat.


  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)

Barbecue Rub

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Serve with


  1. Rub the chicken thighs: Sprinkle a heavy coat of the rub over the chicken thighs. Gently pat the rub to help it stick, and work it into any natural seams in the meat. (Don’t vigorously “rub” the chicken, or most of the spices will wind up on your fingers.)
  2. Set the grill up for indirect high heat: Set your grill up for indirect high heat, 450°F, with a drip pan in the middle of the grill and the fire on the sides. In my kettle grill, I light a chimney starter full of coals; when the coals are lit and covered with gray ash, I pour them in two piles on the sides of the grill, with the drip pan in the middle. (If your grill comes with charcoal baskets, use them to keep the piles together.) Then I put on my grill grate and brush it clean.
  3. Cook the chicken thighs: Add the smoking wood to the coals, put the chicken thighs on the grill grate directly over the drip pan, and close the lid. Cook the chicken until the skin is browned and it has an internal temperature of at least 175°F, about 30 minutes. Brush the chicken with a layer of sauce, then cook for 15 more minutes, brushing with another layer of sauce every five minutes, keeping the lid closed as much as possible. Remove from the grill, brush with one last coat of sauce, let the thighs rest for five minutes, and serve.


  • The barbecue rub is from my homemade rub recipe. I make a large batch and keep it in my spice rack so I always have barbecue rub ready to use.


  • Grill (I love my Weber Performer)
  • 2 fist sized chunks of smoking wood or 2 cups soaked wood chips (I used oak wood chips)
  • Drip pan (I use the Weber extra-large pans that fit perfectly between the charcoal baskets)
  • Probe thermometer (Like my Thermoworks ChefAlarm. Makes it easy to check the temperature without opening the lid, and the temperature alarm will let you know exactly when the chicken is done.)
  • Basting brush (I prefer silicone brushes)
  • Category: Grilling
  • Cuisine: American


Chicken thighs over indirect heat - away from the fire

Chicken thighs over indirect heat – away from the fire

Thighs roasting over the drip pan

Thighs roasting over the drip pan

Glazing with BBQ sauce

Glazing with BBQ sauce



  • Chicken thighs are almost impossible to overcook. 175°F is the starting temperature for “done”, 185°F is better, 195°F is OK, and they’re fine up to 205°F. Once they reach 175°F, I worry more about glazing them without burning the sauce than I do the internal temperature of the chicken.

Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs-1028

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts

Espresso Chipotle BBQ Sauce

Easy BBQ Sauce

Homemade Rub

My other Grilling Recipes

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Filed under: Grilling, Sunday dinner, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. This recipe is fantastic. I’ve made it twice now and look forward to making it again. It’s a family hit! Easy to make, excellent flavour and love the homemade easy BBQ sauce to go with it. Definitely worth a try.

  2. Stephen says

    Here’s a cool new trick I tried tonight. After the cooking is done let them rest and cool a little so you can handle them easy enough. Then, remove the bone from the meat without disturbing the crispy bark that you’ve created.

    • Chicken thighs have a lot of fat in them; if I don’t use a drip pan I have a grease fire the next time I use the grill.

  3. Made this tonight. Really good! My wife thought it was a bit too salty, so I might cut back on the kosher salt next time. Used a Stubbs BBQ sauce and it was fine.

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