Barbecued Chicken Thighs

While it has been awfully freakin’ cold outside, and I feel myself called by the siren song of our new pans, I have not forsaken my BGE. During a brief break from the cold, I fired up these barbecued thighs.

As any grillmeister worth their kosher salt knows, barbecue is a style of cooking, not a sauce. To make these barbecued thighs, I went with a low ‘n’ slow cook to give them that rich, smoky flavor and bite-through skin.

8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
2-3 tablespoons of your favorite barbecue rub (I used Tasty Licks Original BBQ Rub)
1/2 cup Sticky Hog barbecue sauce

At least 2 hours before cooking, dust the thighs with the rub, lay them out in a single layer on a sheet pan, and let them sit uncovered in the fridge. This step seasons the thighs and also helps to dry out the skin a bit to keep it crispy.

Set the grill up for a raised direct cook at 250°. On the BGE I didn’t use a heat diffuser or drip pan, but I did set my grate on a Woo 2 rig to give me another 8 inches of clearance above the firebox. So the thighs would smoke and not get too crispy, I filled my firebox about 1/2 of the way up and made sure I had a uniform layer of well-packed lump charcoal. I added a chunk of apple wood for smoke.

Put the thighs on the grill skin side down, close the lid, and let them cook for 30 minutes. Flip them and let them go another 30 minutes.

Check to make sure that there aren’t any hot spots and that none of the thighs are cooking too fast. Rearrange them on the grid if needed. Leave them on skin side up for another 30 minutes.

Check for doneness – when the juices run clear and the internal temperature in the largest thigh hits 180°F (after 2 hours total in this case), brush the thighs on both sides with the barbecue sauce. Let them cook 10 minutes more and brush them again. Let them cook  5 more minutes, brush one last time, remove them to a warm plate, and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

The Verdict: ★★★★☆
This wasn’t just grilled chicken with some sauce slapped on it. This was proper barbecue – smoky, sweet, spicy, and tangy. The thighs were very juicy, and while the skin wasn’t as crisp as I would have liked, it wasn’t rubbery either. Just a little longer cook once the sauce was on, or maybe a longer rest uncovered in the fridge, and they would have been perfect.

3 thoughts on “Barbecued Chicken Thighs”

  1. I’ve been using your tip about putting the rub on the meat and letting it sit uncovered in the refrigerator and it’s worked great. One thing I like to do to crisp the skin is sear it over higher heat to begin and then lower the temp and smoke it as you do for the remaining cook. Thanks for the great posts. Keep ’em coming.

    1. Thanks! Somebody told me that if you do a sear like that skin side down it gets even crispier because it renders that fat right under the skin. I’ve not had a chance to try it out, but bumping the temp does help.

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