You don't have to be a pitmaster to make finger-lickin'-good barbecue chicken.
First, start with the sauce. Homemade sauce can be surprisingly easy to whip up using pantry staples. The recipe here is a basic barbecue sauce. but you can doctor it up by adding ingredients like honey, hot sauce and even bourbon.
When preparing your chicken for the grill, be sure to let the meat stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before putting it on the grates. Taking away the chill will help your chicken cook more evenly and quickly.
For a boost of flavor, an easy trick is to season the chicken with a spicy dry rub instead of just salt and pepper. Brushing the chicken with a little oil before adding the rub will help the rub better adhere to the meat and keep it from sticking on the grill.
Two-zone grilling is especially helpful for cooking foods like bone-in chicken. Sear the chicken first over direct heat, and then move it to an area with no heat to finish cooking by indirect heat. To create an indirect heating zone on your gas grill, simply turn off the burners on one side. For a charcoal grill, place the hot coals only on one side of the grill. Also, closing the lid is essential when using indirect grilling. A closed lid helps the grill mimic an oven and evenly cook the chicken.
Finally, the key to perfect barbecue chicken is to apply the sauce when the chicken is almost done. This prevents the sauce from burning.
Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99), "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99), and "Simply Grilling" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99. She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters. For more recipes and dinner time solutions, visitcookwithjennifer.com.
Homemade Barbecue Sauce:
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. ground dry mustard
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
Vegetable oil, for grates
2 tbsp. paprika
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 lbs. mixed chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings
1 cup barbecue sauce
To make the barbecue sauce:
In a large saucepan combine the ketchup, water, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, red pepper flakes, onion powder, dry mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Over high heat, bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 20 to 25 minutes. Measure out 1 cup of sauce. Refrigerate the remaining sauce for another time.
To make the chicken:
Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.
In a small bowl combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brush the chicken with the olive oil. Generously season the chicken with the dry rub.
Place the chicken on the grill. Close the lid and cook, turning once or twice, until no longer pink in the middle, about 12 to 15 minutes per side. During the final 5 minutes of cooking, baste the chicken with the barbecue sauce. Remove the chicken from the grill.