Southern BBQ Chicken

When you hear someone talk about Southern barbecue, one of the first things that likely comes to mind is juicy and flavorful barbecued chicken. There’s something so comforting and satisfying about this classic dish, and the fact that it’s relatively easy to prepare has made it a staple in many backyards and restaurants. Southern BBQ chicken is all about simple, smoky flavors and fall-off-the-bone tenderness, and here we’ll go through all the steps necessary to achieve that perfect plate of succulent, smoky chicken.


  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 pounds chicken pieces, such as breasts, drumsticks, and wings
  • 1/2 cup BBQ sauce + additional to serve


  1. In a small bowl, combine the light brown sugar, paprika, ground mustard, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels, then rub them all over with the dry rub. Place the chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.
  3. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Grease the grates with cooking spray or oil. Remove the chicken from the fridge and brush with the BBQ sauce on both sides.
  4. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for 6-7 minutes per side, brushing with additional BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of cooking. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reaches 165°F when inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
  5. Remove the chicken from the grill, let it rest for 5 minutes, then serve with additional BBQ sauce, if desired.

The Perfect BBQ Sauce

The one key to making the best Southern BBQ chicken is the sauce. Here’s an easy recipe for a perfectly balanced BBQ sauce that will take your chicken to the next level.


  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir to combine.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool completely before using.

Southern BBQ chicken is a classic dish that’s a staple at any summer gathering, and with a few simple steps and a perfect BBQ sauce, you can bring that expert restaurant quality to your own backyard. Chicken that is tender, juicy, and smothered in a flavorful and balanced BBQ sauce will be sure to make your next barbecue a success.