Barbecue chicken, 3 ways

Make it your own

Barbecue chicken, 3 ways

Barbecue chicken, 3 ways

Serves Serves 4
Time Cooks In1 hour 30 minutes plus marinating
DifficultyNot too tricky
Nutrition per serving Plus
  • Calories 481 24%
  • Fat 26.8g 38%
  • Saturates 6.5g 33%
  • Sugars 19.9g 22%
  • Salt 2.1g 35%
  • Protein 39.4g 79%
  • Carbs 20.5g 8%
  • Fibre 0.5g -
Of an adult's reference intake
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  • 4 free-range chicken thighs , skin on, bone in
  • 4 free-range chicken drumsticks , skin on, bone in
  • 1 fresh red chilli , optional
  • 1 lemon , optional
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked sea salt or sea salt
  • 2 cloves
  • olive oil , optional
  • red wine vinegar , optional
  • 100 g light brown soft sugar
  • 100 g tomato ketchup
  • 100 ml fresh unsweetened apple juice
  • 50 ml bourbon whisky , optional
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
  • a few splashes of chipotle Tabasco
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  1. Grind and bash all the spiced rub ingredients in a pestle and mortar until fine (or use a blender or coffee grinder). You can use the spices as a dry rub, or muddle in 2 tablespoons each of olive oil and red wine vinegar to make a marinade.
  2. Use a fork to pierce the underside of the chicken a few times, going all the way down to the bone (this will help create big flavour). Toss the chicken in the spiced rub or marinade, then cover and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
  3. Place all of the sauce ingredients into a medium saucepan over a high heat (you can do this on the hob or by placing a small pan on the direct side of the barbecue). Add a pinch of sea salt, whisk well to combine, then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until it's sticky and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  4. Once you’re ready to cook, preheat your barbecue (see tip). Place the chicken skin-side down on the direct or hot side of the barbecue and cook for 2 minutes, calming down any flames by putting the lid on.
  5. Using tongs, carefully turn the chicken over and transfer to the cooler part of the barbecue, where the indirect heat is (if you want to add some water-soaked fruit woods, such as Applewood, to the coals for bonus flavour, now’s the time to do it).
  6. Place the lid on (the holes in the lid should be open to allow the air to flow through), and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, checking and turning the chicken throughout, or until the chicken pulls easily away from the bone. When removing the lid, just crack it open slightly before lifting it off completely – this will prevent the ash from blowing up onto the chicken and tainting the flavour.
  7. Baste the chicken in half the BBQ sauce (save the rest for another day), place back over the indirect heat and pop the lid back on for 10 minutes, or until sticky, juicy and gnarly.
  8. Check the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear, then transfer to a large serving board or platter. If using, finely chop and scatter over the fresh chilli and slice the lemon into wedges for squeezing over. Delicious served with a seasonal salad or barbecued vegetables, rice and flatbreads.


For a herby chicken marinade, peel 3 cloves of garlic, trim 6 spring onions, then roughly chop everything and bash into a rough paste in a pestle and mortar with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or you can pulse in a food processor). Pick in the leaves from 1 bunch of soft herbs (30g), such as coriander, mint basil, parsley or chives, reserving a few for garnish. Finely grate in the zest of 1 lemon, then bash or pulse again. Squeeze in the lemon juice, then tip into a large bowl and leave to marinate. Continue with the recipe from Steps 4 to 6, scattering over the reserved herbs, to finish.

For a chilli chicken marinade, peel 6 cloves of garlic and trim, deseed and roughly chop 6 fresh mixed-colour chillies. Bash a pestle and mortar into a paste. Muddle in 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, then tip into a large bowl and leave to marinate. Continue with the recipe from Steps 4 to 6, but when there’s 2 minutes to go on the cooking time, carefully drizzle over 2 tablespoons of runny honey.

Remove the cooking grill and carefully tip in hot coals on either side of the barbecue to create two heat walls – this will give you a hot direct heat on the sides and a cooler indirect heat in the middle. This ensures your meat will get consistent heat throughout and you will be able to control the temperature and cooking more easily. You can also place a tray on the indirect side to catch any drips and fat.

Get yourself a chimney barbecue starter or barbecue flume to prelight your coals, it's a much quicker and efficient way to get (and keep) your coals hot.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Once you’re ready to cook, place the chicken pieces in a large non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Brown for 5 minutes, turning halfway through, then transfer to a roasting tray. Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until the chicken pulls away easily from the bone. If you’re making the BBQ chicken, baste the chicken in the sauce when there’s 10 minutes to go. If you’re making the Chilli chicken, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of runny honey when there’s 2 minutes to go.