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The Secret to Perfect BBQ Chicken

I know.  Everyone says they have the perfect BBQ chicken recipe. But when you try it out , you often end up with a dry piece of chicken that tastes pretty good but is not in the slightest bit tender.

I have tried putting the chicken on the grill for a long time, for a short time, at high heat and at low heat.  Nothing seems to help with the dryness that normally happens.

The reason for this is that the word barbecue is not the correct term.  Unless you are cooking the meat over a very low indirect heat with wood smoke, you are not barbecuing. 

You are grilling. And grilling can dry out chicken pretty quickly.

My secret tips to perfectly cooked BBQ chicken -

So what is the answer?  A fancy wood cooker and tons of time?  Sure.  If you have both. But sometimes, I decide at 4 pm that I want BBQ chicken that night and I want it to be juicy.

That is where my special smoky rub and my microwave come into the equation.   I’ll be honest.  I cheat.  

I precook my chicken at a very low speed in the microwave for about 30 minutes (power 2 in my large microwave.)  You can also precook the chicken in the oven but it takes much longer and the aim is to have a short cut here so the microwave is my choice. 

Precooked chicken breastsI know. The chicken needs to go outdoors and get a sun tan.  It’s pretty horrible looking and pasty at this stage, and not at all appealing.  But that will change before you know it.

The main thing is that is is juicy right now. Even though the microwave does not brown meat but for this recipe, it does not matter.  All I want to do is have the chicken come out juicy.  The low speed is the key.  If you nuke it at high speed, you’ll end up with a piece of shoe leather after it is grilled.

Drain all the juices that have collected during cooking, and you are ready for the next step.

Once the chicken has precooked, it’s time to add my special BBQ smoky dry rub. The rub is a wonderful mix of spices, that costs a fraction of normal store bought rubs.

It’s easy to make (about 10 minutes) and is perfect for any protein choice.

Precooked chicken with the BBQ smoky dry rubThere…isn’t that better?  The rub adds some color already! I used split breast with the bone in tonight but any chicken pieces with bone in will do. 

Boneless chicken tends to dry out a bit too much for my taste even cooked this way so I save them for oven roasting and stove top cooking.

Sprinkle the chicken liberally with the rub and if possible, let it sit loosely covered for a bit in the fridge to let the flavors mix well with the chicken.

When it’s time to grill, turn the BBQ down fairly low.   Get out your BBQ grill set  and get ready to finish the job.  The chicken is already cooked.

The grilling process will just add the crunchiness to the chicken and brown it.  Finish it off with a store bought BBQ sauce or make your own from my recipe below.

Perfectly cooked BBQ chicken is easy every time if you follow my easy steps. with corn on the cob cooked in foil in the grill and baked potatoes or a salad.  Who says BBQ chicken has to take all day to cook well? 

With my short cut version, it will be extra juicy and delicious but still have the traditional BBQ flavor from the rub and sauce. 

Perfection for those busy summer nights!

Yield: 8

The Secret to Perfect BBQ Chicken

The Secret to Perfect BBQ Chicken

Cooking the chicken in the microwave on low for 30 minutes before you grill it gives moist and juicy results every time.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


BBQ sauce: (Makes extra and lasts well) You can also use bottled retail BBQ sauce if you are short on time.

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Bourbon
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 tbsp Smoky BBQ Dry Rub (recipe above)
  • Hot sauce (such as Tabasco) to taste


  1. Precook the chicken pieces in the microwave on power 2 for about 30 minutes until no longer pink. Take it out and drain off the juices that have collected and let it cool just a little.
  2. Sprinkle liberally with the dry rub and place in the fridge for a while to let the flavors combine.
  3. To make the BBQ sauce, combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring them to a boil. Turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer, stirring every so often, until it has thickened, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Take out the chicken and make one side of the grill low heat and the other high. You will cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side on the low heat and then add the BBQ sauce and finish off on the high heat side for another few minutes..

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 338Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 805mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 0gSugar: 23gProtein: 31g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

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