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Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce Recipe

by Jeanette on August 28, 2014 · 11 Comments
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There’s nothing more American in the summertime than barbecue chicken, and this Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce takes barbecue chicken to a whole new level. Smoky and sweet, this sauce is finger licking good, and the brined chicken is juicy and tender.

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting my husband’s cousin and niece from Taiwan for a week. I’ve never met them before, and it’s been nearly 40 years since my husband has seen his cousin, so their visit was very special.

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce © Jeanette's Healthy Living

It was really interesting to see how my kids interacted with them since they are second generation Chinese Americans, and don’t speak Chinese. Fortunately, their cousin is fluent in English, so my broken Mandarin was passable as I tried to communicate with her mom, with translations flying back and forth.

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce © Jeanette's Healthy Living

It was quite an adventure for our relatives from Taiwan as they wanted to experience everything American. This Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce was one of the recipes I made for them during their stay. After all, Barbecue Chicken is very American right?

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Brining the chicken for a few hours before grilling it bumps up the flavor and ensures a moister chicken, so if you have time, try it. If not, no worries, just throw the chicken on the grill (make sure you season with some salt and pepper first if you don’t use the brine).

Grilled Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce © Jeanette's Healthy Living

Homemade barbecue sauce ensures you use the cleanest ingredients, and a naturally rich flavored, thick sauce. A slice of bacon and smoked paprika add smokiness to the sauce. This recipe makes enough to baste the chicken during the grilling process. If you like extra sauce to serve with it, double the recipe.

Today, I’m participating in Food Networks’ #SummerSoiree event where Labor Day recipes are being featured. Be sure to check out what my fellow foodie friends made:

Feed Me Phoebe: Hot Crab Dip with Jalapenos and Scallions
The Heritage Cook: Four Sauces Designed for Grilled Foods (Gluten-Free)
Dishing with Divya: Baked Vegetable Sacks
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Summer Vegetables with Lemon Tahini Dressing
Weelicious: Heirloom Tomato Salad
Elephants and the Coconut Trees:</strong> Peach and Blueberry Baked Fruit Pizza
Devour: Cooking Channel’s Ultimate Labor Day Party Menu
Dishin & Dishes: Grilled Chicken with Board Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Heirloom Tomatoes and Two Rice Salad
Domesticate Me: 10 Fabulous Summer Recipes for Labor Day
Taste With The Eyes: “End of Summer Rolls” Caprese-Style
FN Dish: Day-Off Desserts for Labor Day

Grilled Brined Chicken with Homemade Barbecue Sauce

Rating: 51

This recipe makes enough sauce to brush on the chicken during grilling. If you like extra sauce on the side, double the sauce ingredients.


    Chicken Brine
  • 2 quarts water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 pounds chicken legs and/or thighs
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Barbecue Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 slice uncured bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 cup organic ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons organic unsulphured molasses
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika


  1. In a large pot, mix together water, salt, sugar, and garlic. Add chicken and refrigerate 2 hours.
  2. Barbecue Sauce
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add bacon and saute until lightly browned. Add onion and garlic and saute until soft. Add remaining ingredients and cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.
  4. Grilling Chicken
  5. Preheat grill.
  6. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Brush some oil onto foil. Place chicken on foil. Slide chicken and foil onto grill and cover grill. Let chicken cook for 20 minutes; brush with barbecue sauce and turn pieces over; brush other side of chicken. Close grill and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Brush more barbecue sauce on chicken and cook for another 5-10 minutes, until done.


Adapted from Tyler Florence.


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  1. Sounds like you had fun with your relatives! And introduced them to some of the best of American food. This homemade bbq sauce sounds deeelicious.

    • We did – it was really neat for our kids to meet relatives from another country and fun for them to introduce them to American food.

  2. That BBQ sauce looks finger-lickin’ good!

  3. I love your recipe. Looks so easy and perfect for the holiday weekend. Great recipes in the round up!

  4. I’ve never brined a chicken but now I want to try!

  5. Jeanette – that barbecue sauce sounds FANTASTIC!!! Love the molasses and brown sugar and vinegar and all those spices – Droolworthy!!!

  6. Thanks everyone! The sauce is so good – so much better than anything you can buy in a bottle.

  7. Sounds like a wonderful visit :) I can just imagine what a hit this chicken was with them – it looks amazing! I am definitely drooling over a that sauce! Love all the flavors in here!

  8. Wow I love your barbecue sauce! It looks divine and much healthier than the store-bought bottles!!

  9. I want to lick the screen! These grilled brined chicken looks terrific, Jeanette.

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