Grilling Techniques

BBQ Sauce on Chicken Before Grilling: To Do or Not to Do?

BBQ Sauce on Chicken Before Grilling

There’s nothing quite like the sweet and tangy flavor of BBQ sauce on grilled chicken. But when should you apply the sauce? Should you do it before grilling or after? The answer may surprise you.  In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of applying BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling, provide tips on how to do it properly, and share some delicious recipes to try.

Whether you’re a BBQ sauce fanatic or a grilling novice, get ready to take your chicken game to the next level with this ultimate guide to BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling.

Why Should you apply BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling

Flavor Enhancement

Perhaps the most obvious reason to use BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling is for the enhanced flavor it provides. BBQ sauce is typically made with a combination of sweet, spicy, and savory flavors, which can complement the natural flavor of chicken perfectly.

When you apply BBQ sauce to chicken before grilling, the sauce has a chance to caramelize on the outside of the chicken, creating a sweet and savory crust that adds depth and complexity to the overall flavor profile.

The sugars in the BBQ sauce will also help to create a nice char on the outside of the chicken, which not only adds flavor, but also creates an attractive presentation.

But don’t just take our word for it – try it out for yourself! Pick up your favorite BBQ sauce (or make your own), slather it on some chicken, and throw it on the grill. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes in terms of flavor.

Coating and Layers

Another benefit of using BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling is that it creates a coating that helps to keep the chicken moist and juicy.

Chicken can be notoriously dry and tough when grilled, especially if it’s overcooked. But by applying BBQ sauce to the chicken before grilling, you create a barrier that helps to keep the moisture inside.

Additionally, using BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling can create layers of flavor that build upon each other. If you apply multiple layers of BBQ sauce as the chicken cooks, you’ll end up with a deliciously complex flavor that will have your taste buds dancing.

It’s important to note that while BBQ sauce can help keep chicken moist, it’s not a magic solution for overcooked or under-seasoned chicken.

You’ll still need to pay attention to the cooking time and temperature to ensure that the chicken is cooked through and safe to eat. But by using BBQ sauce on your chicken, you’ll be one step closer to grilling perfection.

Tips for Using BBQ Sauce on Chicken Before Grilling

If you’re ready to try using BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose a BBQ sauce that complements the flavor of chicken. If you’re not sure which sauce to use, start with a classic, tomato-based BBQ sauce and go from there.
  • Apply the BBQ sauce to the chicken in thin, even layers. You don’t want to overload the chicken with sauce, as this can cause it to burn or become too sweet.
  • Don’t apply the BBQ sauce too early. If you apply the sauce too far in advance, it may start to break down the chicken and cause it to become mushy. Instead, wait until the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to apply the sauce.
  • Use indirect heat. Chicken can be sensitive to direct heat, so it’s a good idea to use indirect heat when grilling with BBQ sauce. This will help to prevent the chicken from burning and ensure that it cooks evenly.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to grilling chicken that’s juicy, flavorful, and sure to impress.

The Technique of Applying BBQ Sauce on Chicken Before Grilling

Now that we’ve established that using BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling is a great idea, let’s dive into the technique of how to do it properly.

There are a few key factors to keep in mind when applying BBQ sauce to chicken before grilling, including raw chicken preparation, the right time to apply the sauce, and the importance of internal temperature.

Raw Chicken Preparation

Before you even think about applying BBQ sauce to your chicken, it’s important to properly prepare the chicken for cooking. This means cleaning and trimming the chicken, as well as seasoning it with salt and pepper (or your preferred seasonings).

When handling raw chicken, it’s important to take proper food safety precautions to avoid cross-contamination. This means washing your hands frequently and using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw chicken and other ingredients.

Once your chicken is properly prepared, you’re ready to start applying the BBQ sauce.

The Right Time to Apply BBQ Sauce

Timing is everything when it comes to applying BBQ sauce to chicken before grilling. If you apply the sauce too early, it can burn and become bitter. If you apply it too late, the chicken may not have enough time to fully absorb the flavor of the sauce.

A good rule of thumb is to wait until the chicken is about halfway through cooking before applying the BBQ sauce. This will give the chicken enough time to develop a nice sear and cook through without burning the sauce.

When applying the BBQ sauce, use a basting brush to evenly coat the chicken on both sides. Be sure to use enough sauce to fully cover the chicken, but not so much that it’s dripping off.

The Importance of Internal Temperature

While BBQ sauce adds a delicious flavor to chicken, it’s important not to rely on it as the sole indicator of doneness. The only way to ensure that chicken is fully cooked is by checking its internal temperature.

The FDA recommends cooking chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure that any harmful bacteria are killed off. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken in the thickest part, making sure not to touch the bone.

Once the chicken has reached the proper internal temperature, you can remove it from the grill and serve it with additional BBQ sauce on the side.

In summary, the technique of applying BBQ sauce to chicken before grilling involves properly preparing the raw chicken, applying the sauce at the right time, and checking the internal temperature to ensure doneness. With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to create delicious and flavorful grilled chicken every time.

How to Apply BBQ Sauce

The application of BBQ sauce is an art, and there are various methods to do it. Some people prefer to brush the sauce onto the meat, while others prefer to dip it. Whichever method you choose, make sure that the sauce is evenly distributed, and the meat is coated entirely.

Brushing vs. Dipping

Brushing is a common method of applying BBQ sauce. It involves using a brush to apply the sauce onto the meat. This method is ideal for larger cuts of meat, like chicken breasts, and is useful for ensuring that the sauce is evenly distributed.

To apply the sauce using this method, start by heating the sauce and brushing it onto the meat. You can repeat this process several times until the meat is well-coated.

On the other hand, dipping involves submerging the meat into a bowl of BBQ sauce. This method is more efficient for smaller cuts of meat like chicken wings. The sauce will cling to the meat, providing a more substantial coating. The disadvantage of this method is that it can be messy, and the sauce may not be evenly distributed.

Using Aluminum Foil

Another technique for applying BBQ sauce is using aluminum foil. It’s a great method to use when you’re grilling chicken with the bone-in. To use this method, start by grilling the chicken until it’s almost cooked. Then, remove the chicken from the grill and coat it with BBQ sauce.

After applying the sauce, wrap the chicken in aluminum foil and return it to the grill. Let the chicken cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. This method will trap the moisture and heat, allowing the chicken to cook in its juices and absorb the flavor of the sauce.

Smoking Technique

Smoking your chicken is another great way to infuse flavor without burning the BBQ sauce. This method involves cooking the chicken indirectly over low heat with wood chips to add a smoky flavor.

To smoke your chicken, soak wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using. Preheat your grill to low heat and place the wood chips in a smoker box or directly on the grates.

Place the chicken on the grill, away from the heat source, and apply the BBQ sauce. Close the lid and cook for about 1-2 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through. The smoke will infuse the chicken with a smoky flavor, while the sauce will provide a tangy taste.

BBQ Sauce and Burning: How to Avoid Overcooking Your Chicken

BBQ sauce is a delicious addition to chicken on the grill, but it can be tricky to get just right. If you’re not careful, the sugar in the sauce can burn and leave your chicken with a bitter taste.

But fear not! With a few techniques, you can avoid burning your BBQ sauce and create perfectly cooked and flavorful chicken every time.


One technique to prevent burning your BBQ sauce is to sear your chicken before applying the sauce. Searing involves cooking the chicken over high heat to create a nice crust on the outside. This not only adds flavor, but also helps to seal in the juices of the chicken.

To sear your chicken, preheat your grill to high heat and place the chicken on the grates. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until you see nice grill marks. Once the chicken is seared, reduce the heat to medium and apply the BBQ sauce.

Caramelization Technique

Finally, a technique to prevent burning your BBQ sauce while also adding depth of flavor is caramelization. This method involves cooking the chicken with the BBQ sauce over low heat for a longer period of time to allow the sugars in the sauce to caramelize.

To use this technique, preheat your grill to low heat and place the chicken on the grates. Apply a thin layer of BBQ sauce to the chicken and cook for about 5-7 minutes on each side.

Repeat this process, applying a thin layer of BBQ sauce each time, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has caramelized.

Other Meats to BBQ with Sauce

While chicken is a popular choice for barbecuing, there are other meats that you can also BBQ with sauce. Ribs are a classic choice for BBQ sauce, with the sauce enhancing the smoky flavor of the meat. When it comes to ribs, it’s best to apply the sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking to avoid burning.

BBQ Sauce as a Condiment BBQ sauce isn’t just for grilling, it can also be used as a condiment. If you’re serving grilled chicken or any other BBQ meats, you can place a bowl of BBQ sauce on the side for people to use as a dipping sauce or drizzle on top. Some people even use BBQ sauce as a topping for burgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches.


So, should you use BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling? Absolutely! Not only does it enhance the flavor of the chicken, but it also helps to keep it moist and juicy. Just be sure to follow the tips above to ensure that your BBQ chicken turns out perfectly every time.

Whether you’re grilling for a family BBQ, a summer party, or just a weeknight dinner, using BBQ sauce on your chicken is a surefire way to take it to the next level.

And don’t be afraid to get creative with your BBQ sauce! Try different flavors and ingredients to find the perfect combination for your taste buds. Whether you prefer sweet and tangy, spicy and savory, or somewhere in between, there’s a BBQ sauce out there for you.

In addition to using BBQ sauce on chicken, you can also use it on other meats like ribs, pork chops, and even burgers. The possibilities are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find new ways to incorporate BBQ sauce into your grilling routine.

So, the next time you’re firing up the grill, be sure to grab a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce and slather it on some chicken. Your taste buds (and your dinner guests) will thank you!