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A nifty guide to barbecue chicken from Big K

Pieces of barbecue chicken cook over charcoal on a two tier grill

Chickens can be hypnotised: fact (to use a David Brentism). Now that you’re picturing a clutch of our feathered friends mooing like cows on stage – thanks to the nefarious suggestion of a bow tied hypnotist – we clearly have your attention…kind of. It’s barbecue chicken time! Now that’s a segue if ever there was one. In case you are totally lost, we’re going to dive into all things barbecue chicken related. We’re talking barbecue chicken recipes, barbecue chicken ideas, cooking times and techniques, as well how to cook your chook on the grill.


How to make barbecue chicken at home?

Barbecue chicken is slightly misunderstood amongst the usual BBQ suspects out there. Why? This plucky dish is usually thrown around in the same conversation as hamburgers and hotdogs due to its apparent culinary simplicity. This is a mistake guys. We don’t barbecue chicken with a quick blast of direct heat like we do for steaks, hamburgers and hotdogs. Grilling barbecue chicken is a slower and lower exercise, meaning a slower indirect cook at lower temperatures. If you’re looking for quick barbecue chicken blitz over your charcoal, you’ll most probably end up with carbonised skin and a pinky internal disaster – that’s one way to ensure some terrible toilet trips. Fear not Big K Fam – we’ll fill you in the barbecue chicken basics.


Barbecue chicken lies on a grill surrounded by orange flames


How to grill barbecue chicken? Get to know your charcoal, heat and timings.

To recap for the uninitiated, or those with short attention spans, the best and most succulent barbecue chicken recipes come from grilling low and slow over indirect heat. To achieve an indirect grilling environment is super straight forward. All you need to do is move all your hot charcoal to one side of your grill base. This creates two heat zones: a direct heat zone above your charcoal pile and an indirect heat zone in the empty void next to your charcoal pile. You should be placing your chicken above the void, allowing it to cook from indirect heat radiating from the adjacent charcoal pile. This is how the majority of barbecue chicken ideas are created. Get up to speed on charcoal arranging here as well as how to light your charcoal.


The best barbecue chicken ideas need the best charcoal.

There are certain points that we will continue to reiterate until the earth stops spinning. When it comes to barbecue chicken or any BBQ dish, charcoal is the most important ingredient. Many people are so excited to unleash their inner Jamie Oliver that they often overlook these unassuming black lumps of loveliness. We totally get it. However your charcoal is the fuel that lies at the heart of BBQ itself.

All the characteristics of your charcoal affect all the characteristics of whatever you’re cooking. We’re talking taste, texture, infusion of flavour and overall aesthetics on the plate – to name a few. With this being said you need quality charcoal that always delivers the BBQ goods. Enter Big K. With over 50 years in the charcoal industry we know a thing or two when it comes to BBQ. We’ve spent our time diversifying and refining our range, offering everything from restaurant quality charcoal, to more basic home options and of course sustainable products too. With such a variety of amazing lumpwood charcoal and charcoal briquettes to choose form, we’re sure you’ll find the right charcoal for you


Barbecue chicken wings lie covered in barbecue sauce and cook on the grill


How long to cook barbecue chicken?

Ok so now you know a little more about barbecue chicken, how to set up your charcoal as well as the importance of charcoal in the whole process, what’s next? It’s time to explore some cooking times. All you barbecue chicken ideas and recipes will live or die depending on your cooking times – so you need some temporal knowledge to always hit that sweet spot of succulence. As a general rule, if you’re all about a perfectly crisp skin and mouth-watering internal moisture, then you should be aiming for a cooking time of between 1 and 2 hours using indirect heat, depending on the thickness and cut of your barbecue chicken.  For barbecue chicken breasts you can probably get away with some direct heat grilling, however chicken wings, thighs and legs always need the low and slow treatment.


Barbecue chicken grilling times

Bone in – chicken wing – 10,12 ounces 20-30 mins over indirect heat.

Bone in – chicken thigh or leg – 30 to 40 mins using indirect heat.

Bone-in chicken breast – 10 – 12 ounces – 30 to 40 mins using indirect heat.

Boneless and skinless chicken breast,– 6 – 8 ounces – 8 to 12 mins using direct heat.


Some additional barbecue chicken notes here

Summary leads to singularity of focus so here’s a sumptuous summation for you. Barbecue chicken breasts need some direct heat TLC. If you cook your barbecue chicken breasts using indirect heat, there is a higher chance that they will dry out and become super chewy. Moving on, we also suggest that you keep the skin on your barbecue chicken as it acts as a kind of barrier, trapping flavour and moisture in the flesh, which means more moist perfection for your palate. If you are not a fan of barbecue chicken skin, you can remove it before serving.


When is my barbecue chicken ready to eat?

Ah yes, the final nom nomage is the BBQ end game. There are tests you can do with the eye such as squeezing the meat and observing the juices. If your barbecue chicken juices are running clear then you’re basically good to go. However we are all about precision here at Big K, especially when it comes to ensuring that your BBQ food is cooked and safe to eat. Here’s a few additional tips on BBQ food storage and serving.

To know if you’re barbecue chicken is done, you should change your mind set and start thinking in terms of temperature. Basically the heat destroys the nasty bacteria in the meat, so once you hit a certain cooking temperature your barbecue chicken will be safe to devour. All you need to do is place a finely calibrated instant-read thermometer into your barbecue chicken meat as you approach the end of your designated grilling time. If you are getting an internal temperature of between 165°F (74°C) and 175°F (80°C), your poulet is ‘A OK’.  When it comes to barbecue chicken breasts, we suggest that you aim to BBQ your breasts at 165°F for a totes juicy juicy (and safe) taste experience. Finally moving to legs, thighs and wings: the temp sweet spot is between 170-175°F.


Perfectly prepared barbecue chicken is covered in barbecue sauce positioned on a wooden platter


To sauce or not to sauce? That is the BBQ question.

For the majority of BBQ fans out there the answer to this question is a resounding yes we’re sure. However it’s not just a case of drowning your chicken in barbecue sauce. There is a science behind the saucer. No seriously…there is literally a scientific explanation behind the appropriate moment to add barbecue sauce to your grilled chicken. We can all agree on the fact that you are looking for golden, crispy and well-seasoned outer skin with melt-in-the-mouth meat on the inside. To hit these BBQ-based aspirations you need to add your barbecue sauce at just the right time. This is because your BBQ sauce contains water and water will effect the Malliard reaction when your barbecue chicken is cooking. Essentially this just means that the crisping and browning process will not take place to its maximum potential if you add your sauce too early. What’s more some premature saucing will result in an inferno as your barbecue sauce will burn up long before your barbecue chicken is cooked through.

The best time to splash and slather your barabecue sauce all over your chicken? Just before it is finished cooking. Think of it this way: you don’t want to cook the sauce, you just want it to bind and stick to the skin. This process only takes a few minutes. 3 to 4 coats heated for about one min per coat should do the trick no worries at all. This is plenty of time for your barbecue sauce to reduce down to a delightfully delicious glaze. Sound epic? Great – here’s a tremendous barbecue sauce recipe

to help you on your way.


A barbecue chicken thigh and leg are cooking on a barbecue over hot charcoal


How to make barbecue chicken marinade?

A marinade always adds a base foundation of flavour to any meat including barbecue chicken. We can’t get lost in the marinade minutia here, but feast your eye on this marinade deep dive and get up to speed. In terms of the relationship between chicken and marinade here’s what you need to know. Chicken is a light and thin protein, meaning its composition is not as dense as beef or pork. The result? Marinades tend to penetrate the meat and do their thing fairly quickly. Most people don’t realise this, drowning their barbecue chicken in a sea of marinade for an infinite amount of time. Following this approach you will end up with some serious sogginess or terrible toughness depending on if your marinade is enzymatic or acidic respectively. No need for guesswork. Here’s a quick table breakdown on barbecue chicken and marinades.

Whole chicken   4-12 hours

Boneless, skinless breasts 30 mins to 2 hours

Bone in, Skin on breasts 1 to 4 hours

Skinless thighs (bone in)  1 – 4 hours

Wings (skin on)    2 –  6 hours

Legs (skin on) 2 – 6 hours


Chicken recipes and barbecue ideas

So we have ticked all the theoretical boxes, but theoretical doesn’t taste so good in your mouth. We get it.  So we thought that we’d leave you with a salivating barbecue chicken recipe to whet your appetite. Feast your eyes on this Greek barbecue chicken delight

You’re welcome and we will be in touch via the blogametric medium soon.