When my two favorite seasons – grilling season and berry season – combine, you get Grilled Chicken with a delicious Blackberry BBQ Sauce!
We featured this recipe for Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce live on Portland’s KATU News program, AM Northwest. You can view the segment below.
Berry season is a universal favorite in my household. We take the kids out berry picking almost weekly during the summer. But my kids tend to go a bit overboard, picking more berries than we can eat before they start to go bad.
Not being huge bakers around here, we like to experiment with berries in savory dishes and sauces, like this blackberry BBQ sauce.
And using it on one of the most under-appreciated proteins, chicken, this sauce is an excellent way to jazz up an otherwise boring cut of meat.
Best Parts of Chicken for Grilling
We like to get a whole chicken, and then cut it into quarters. If you don’t see this at your store your butcher should be able to cut up a whole chicken for you. Just ask!
Otherwise, feel free to use the equivalent of your favorite cut of chicken. Ideally with the bone-in and skin on to maximize flavor.
- Season Chicken: First coat your chicken with olive oil then season it liberally with your favorite dry rub. We like this dry rub for chicken.
- Prepare Grill: Set your grill for indirect (or 2-zone) cooking, like this.
- Grill Chicken: The key is to start with the chicken cooking over the direct heat to get that crust on each side, then move to the indirect side so you can slowly bring the meat up to temperature.
Blackberry BBQ Sauce
What we’re doing is infusing some berries into your favorite style of BBQ sauce. The naturally sweet flavors from the berries will add great flavor to your typical BBQ sauce.
Which Berries to Use for BBQ Sauce?
You can use whatever berries you like, and whatever is in season. Berries that are in season will have the freshest and sweetest flavor.
If strawberries are in peak season, feel free to use those. You can also use blackberries, marionberries, blueberries. Make it your own and use your favorite. Just know that the riper the berries the sweeter they will be. If you buy store-bought berries they tend to be less sweet and possibly less ripe. So feel free to adjust the amount of berries based on the sweetness when you taste them.
What kind of sauce to use as a base?
For this recipe we’re using a Carolina style sauce as a base. This is a vinegar-based sauce. But if you prefer a Kansas City style, which are tomato-based, less acidic, and usually sweeter, then do that!
How to make Blackberry BBQ Sauce
- Add the berries and BBQ sauce ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Cook about 10-15 minutes until the berries are soft and the sauce has reduced a bit.
- Blend. You can transfer the sauce into a blender or food processor and mix until smooth, or just pour everything through a strainer (the blender method will make for a thicker sauce, while the strainer method will be just a touch thinner since you will have removed some of the remaining berry pulp).
- Brush the sauce over the grilled chicken during the remaining few minutes of grilling.
When to glaze the Grilled Chicken
Once your chicken is almost at proper temperature, glaze the meat. You don’t want to do this too soon otherwise you risk burning the sauce and the meat.
High heat + sugar sauces = easily burned.
Wait until your chicken is about 155 degrees, then glaze the meat. You can do this by dipping your pieces of chicken into the sauce, OR just brush the chicken with a food-safe paint brush.
Let the chicken finish cooking over indirect heat, which will help caramelize the sauce onto the meat, until the internal temperature of the meat is 165 degrees.
Each piece of meat will finish cooking at different times. The legs and thighs will cook quicker since they are smaller, and the breast meat will take the longest, since it’s the biggest.
Make sure to always use a good digital thermometer so you make sure you cook your meat to the perfect temperature and don’t overcook it (causing the dreaded dry overcooked chicken!).
Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce Recipe
Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce
For the Chicken:
- 1 whole chicken, quartered (about 4 lbs)
- Extra virgin olive oil, to coat (roughly ¼ cup)
- ¼ cup dry rub
For the Blackberry BBQ Sauce:
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup ketchup
- ¼ cup hot sauce (we love Valentina hot sauce)
- ¼ cup cane sugar
- ¼ cup agave nectar (honey works too)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 6 oz blackberries (or other favorite berry, about 1 ½ cups)
For the Chicken:
- Set your grill for direct and indirect (2-zone) cooking.
- Coat chicken with olive oil and then season liberally with your dry rub.
- Place chicken on direct heat, paying close attention to the flame to get a nice crust, about 3-4 minutes (or until you see nice grill marks) then flip.
- Repeat and get a nice crust on the other side of the chicken and then move to the indirect side. Cover grill and monitor temperature after 10 minutes. Legs and thighs will cook faster than your breast.
- When chicken reaches 155 degrees, glaze once with your sauce and continue cooking. Remove chicken from the grill when internal temperature reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the meat.
- Reglaze chicken once more and let sit for at least 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute and then enjoy.
For the Blackberry BBQ Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan add all BBQ sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce has reduced a bit and the berries have softened (using a potato masher or fork to break up the berries a bit).
- Transfer to a food processor or blender to make smooth, or pour the sauce through a strainer to remove some of the pulp and seeds.
- Serve with the grilled chicken.
The Video Segment on AM Northwest
To see us cooking this up Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce on AM Northwest click below.
If this doesn’t play click here to be taken to the AM Northwest site to view it there.
And thank you so very much to the amazing crew at AM Northwest for inviting us back again and again! We are truly honored to cook for you!
If you like this recipe we’d truly appreciate it if you would give this recipe a star review! And if you share any of your pics on Instagram use the hashtag #vindulge. We LOVE to see it when you cook our recipes.