Glazed BBQ Chicken is finger licking delicious. This recipe comes with tips and tricks for getting incredible flavor from smoked chicken, including using a chicken dry rub and dipping in a flavorful BBQ glaze during the final minutes of cooking. You’re gonna love this barbecued glazed chicken!
We are huge fans of chicken on the smoker or grill. Though it hasn’t always been the case. My husband, for example, was never much of a chicken fan until I forced him to eat it over and over because one cannot live off beef alone. True story.
Over the years we have learned a few things about making the very best smoked BBQ chicken. Here are all the tips, tricks, and secrets we have to share.
The Best Cut for BBQ Chicken
We’ve learned that we definitely want to cook the bird in pieces. Yes, an entire smoked chicken is fun, but to be able to monitor the internal temps of a chicken makes it so much easier to have the breast, thighs, drums separated. You are also able to season each piece more thoroughly when they are separated. We still do the occasional smoked whole roaster chicken, but for that it’s usually when we’re looking to do shredded (or pulled) chicken for other recipes, like smoked chicken chili or smoked buffalo chicken dip.
We also love to source our chicken from local ranchers at farmers markets or direct. You can also find online retailers like D’Artagnan that sources quality meats direct from small farmers around the country and delivers right to your door.
How to Prepare Chicken for Smoking
- I really like a start my bbq chicken with a dry rub, savory to be specific. Yes, you can brine chicken. But one challenge with brining is the impact that it can have on the skin (as in more rubbery). When cooked at a lower temp the skin often comes out rubbery (gross!). And ideally we are trying to avoid the rubbery chicken skin. That just means the fat hasn’t rendered out. So when cooking low and slow, the key is avoiding too much excess moisture, but without skipping flavor. So that’s why we start with a good dry rub.
- Next, trim excess fat off the chicken. In some cases you can get really technical on say, the thighs, and actually remove the skin, scrape off the fat, and then put it back on again. But really, that’s a pain when you are in the backyard. So for this example, start by using a dry rub and we’ll talk about getting a crispier skin.
BBQ Chicken Secret – Dehydrate the Chicken
There are two ways to achieve a good texture for bbq chicken skin. Either cook at a higher heat, or dehydrate and dry brine the chicken.
To dehydrate, place the seasoned chicken in the refrigerator uncovered (like we do for our Smoked Buffalo Wings). This allows the airflow in the fridge to dehydrate the chicken while the salt in the rub help to dry brine. This will assist in the skin rendering down while smoking the chicken.
How to Smoke Chicken
Cooking at 275 degrees is the sweet spot. It’s hot enough to help render out some fat (for that crispy skin), while still allowing that low and slow smoke to infuse your meat. The key is watching the temp in each part of the bird, thus why it’s helpful separating the parts (each piece will cook a different length of time based on its size, so you can monitor each piece with a thermometer like our Thermoworks MK4 Thermapen).
Consider using fruit woods like apple or cherry for a sweeter style of smoke. If you want a stronger smoke flavor, oak or hickory are great options.
This recipe will yield a nice bite to the chicken, but the skin texture still won’t be like grilled chicken. If you want to achieve a stronger crunch, then smoke at 300 – 325 degrees F.
Easy Chicken Glaze
Use 2 cups BBQ sauce and combine with 2/3rds cup honey to get a nice shine and flavor. It’s that easy.
This is where your favorite flavors can stand out. Like mixing sweet with heat and savory. In our case, we use a Carolina style BBQ sauce, honey, and the heat from the rub. All three make for a complex flavor bomb when you bite into the chicken with minimal work. It should still be moist and delicious in every bite, both white and dark meat.
If you like a sweeter and stickier style sauce, check out our Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce recipe too! But if you have your favorite store bought sauce, use that in the same ratios.
When to Glaze
Here is where the flavor really pops. Right before the chicken is done (an internal temperature of 150 degrees F versus fully cooked at 160) dip the chicken into a bowl of your prepared glaze then place back on your cooker for those final minutes.
This is a different technique than brushing a BBQ sauce on. The dipping method allows for a uniform sauce application, and it also creates this gorgeous glossy look! So pretty!
This allows a few minutes to set the glaze but avoid burning. After the bird reaches 160 degrees F internal temp, remove and dip again in the glaze. Let sit for about 10 minutes and then enjoy.
If you are wondering about the chicken temperature, check out this great article from Thermoworks about when chicken is really done and safe to eat.
Side Inspirations for BBQ Chicken
Wine Pairing With BBQ Chicken
We’ve got a few things going on here that will effect the wine pairing. We love Syrah for this recipe. There’s the savory, slightly sweet, and just barely spicy dry rub. And then we have the chicken glaze. For our glaze we went with a Carolina style sauce and some honey, so that means vinegar (acid) and sweet. You’ll find lovely integration of fruit, herbs, spice, and even some floral notes, without becoming rich or jammy. Those from Santa Barbara are a wonderful match. But feel free to find a Syrah from your favorite region.
If you go with a KC, or sweeter-style BBQ sauce that will create an even sweeter and smokier glaze. We strive for a balance of savory/smoky/sweet, which we achieved. This allows for more options with wine (otherwise your best bet would be something like a Zinfandel, or super fruity style wine). Zinfandel or Barbera also work quite well.
Want more BBQ Chicken Recipes?
Follow our guide to How To Grill Chicken perfectly or try these amazing dishes.
- Smoked Whole Chicken
- Wine Can Chicken
- Grilled Chicken with Cranberry Chipotle Citrus Glaze
- Grilled Chicken with Cherry Chipotle BBQ Glaze
- Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina Glaze
- Grilled Chicken with Ancho Chilies and Prunes
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This BBQ Chicken Recipe was originally published in April of 2016 and updated in May of 2021 to include new photos, recipe instructions, sourcing chicken, and details to the sauce.
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Glazed BBQ Chicken Recipe
For the Chicken:
For the Glaze:
- 2 cups Carolina style BBQ sauce (see notes for our recipe)
- ⅔ cup honey
- Trim meat of excess fat, and pat dry. Apply dry rub all over the chicken pieces and place in a refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours uncovered to dry brine.
- Preheat smoker to 275 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using fruit wood like apple or cherry. Oak and Hickory also work well.
- Place chicken pieces in the smoker until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 150 degrees F.
- Dip the chicken pieces into the bowl of glaze and place back onto the smoker. Continue smoking until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160 degrees F using a good instant read thermometer.
- Remove from the smoker and then dip again into your glaze, let it rest for 10 minutes allowing glaze to set.
- Serve and enjoy.