BBQ Chicken Thighs With Bite-Through Skin

BBQ chicken thighs scream Summer cookouts. And while delicious, getting that bite-through skin with BBQ sauce remains an elusive dream. No more.

BBQ chicken thighs with crispy skin and grilled corn on a cutting board.

How many times have you bitten into a bbq chicken thigh and the skin just frustratingly slides off? So much so, I imagine, that perhaps bbq chicken gets skipped over for smoked pork or burgers.

How awesome would it be to bite into a perfectly cooked, juicy, sticky-sweet bbq sauce-covered, delicious chicken thigh? Well, we have the answer to this. Bite-through skin and barbecue sauce with a chicken thigh are doable, I promise.

bbq chicken thighs on a baking sheet.

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How To Make BBQ Chicken Thighs

What’s great about this step (and recipe) is now you can add bbq chicken to your repertoire of fabulous smoked, bbq, and grilling recipes.

Furthermore, you can take a relatively inexpensive protein and elevate it up to mouth-watering nirvana that family and friends alike will not forget anytime soon. And you can get it on their plate within the hour as well.

Affordable, quick, delicious, and impressive. This is the dream of all backyard BBQ’ers. Let’s get started!

Ingredients Needed

Nothing too difficult here. Just the chicken thighs, some barbecue sauce, and a few spices for a light rub are all you need to nail this recipe.

Preparing The BBQ Chicken Thighs With Bite-Through Skin

Spices in a ramekin.

The first step is to prepare the rub. Combine the salt and pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl or ramekin. Mix well so all the spices are well mixed.

Trimming a chicken thigh.

Remove the chicken thighs from the packaging. Trim any excess fat and skin from the thigh.

THE SECRET TO BITE-THROUGH BBQ CHICKEN THIGHS

Using a meat tenderizer makes several pinprick holes in the skin. This allows the skin to tear much more easily giving you that clean bite. Furthermore, it allows more of the fat underneath the skin to render and drain. Super easy to do and a total game-changer for your bbq chicken.

raw chicken thigh showing pierced skin from a meat tenderizer.

Using a meat tenderizer, pierce the skin of all the thighs.

A tray of raw chicken thighs seasoned.

Lay out the chicken thighs on a baking sheet. Dust the chicken thighs with the rub on one side. Then turn them over and dust the other side.

Pull the skin taut so it’s even and tucked in as best as possible. Allow them to rest for an hour before cooking.

Smoking BBQ Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs just placed into a smoker.

Set your smoker or grill to 425 degrees. Put the chicken thighs skin side up into the grill or smoker when it hits temperature.

OPTIONAL

When the chicken is cooking, toss some wood on the fire. I put on some oak or hickory. Pecan or apple would be good as well. The small amount of smoke that gets on the chicken adds a very pleasant layer of flavor.

Cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes. The cook time may vary a bit depending on your temperature. Use an instant read thermometer (close to the bone) to check the internal temperature. There is no need to flip the chicken.

Chicken thighs with crispy skin on the smoker.

When the chicken thighs are at 160 degrees F. they are ready for the barbecue sauce. You should see that the thighs have nice, crispy skin.

Chicken thighs with a layer of bbq sauce applied.

Remove from the heat and apply your bbq sauce to all sides of the chicken thighs and return to the grill.

Chicken thighs with bbq sauce baked on.

Continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes for the sauce to tack up. Check the internal temperature and when they hit 180 degrees they’re ready.

I will optionally coat the chicken again with barbecue sauce and put them back in for 10 minutes if I am going all out on the barbecue experience.

barbecued chicken recently pulled from the smoker on a baking sheet.

Remove the chicken thighs from the grill (or smoker) and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Conclusion

bbq chicken thighs on a baking sheet.

Using a meat tenderizer to make those holes in the skin is the secret to this bite-through bbq chicken recipe. Once you try this you will never go back and you will find that cooking up chicken with the skin on may become a regular thing.

Bite-through skin on barbecued chicken.
Perfection! No more skin sliding off when you bite into this BBQ chicken thigh!

There are several ways you can build on this recipe as well. Mix and match your favorite rubs to give you an entirely different flavor. You can also brine the chicken thighs to make them even more super tender.

BBQ chicken thighs with crispy skin. Grilled yellow corn as a garnish on a brown cutting board.

But piercing the skin is key. As I mentioned earlier, you’ll never do it any other way in the future.

BBQ chicken thighs with crispy skin. Grilled yellow corn as a garnish on a brown cutting board.

Serve this delicious bbq chicken thighs with your favorite barbecue sides. We are fairly partial to some grilled corn on the cob with all of our barbecue dishes.

Promise, this barbecued chicken is a winner. It certainly beats chicken in the oven every time!

Questions Regarding BBQ Chicken Thighs

How long do chicken thighs take to BBQ?

Approximately 30 minutes at a grill temperature of 425 degrees F to cook the chicken thighs to 160 degrees F. internal temperature. Another 10 minutes for the BBQ sauce to set up.

How do you BBQ chicken thighs without burning them?

Do not apply your BBQ sauce until the chicken is 160 degrees F. internal temperature. Apply the BBQ sauce and place back onto the grill for about 7-10 minutes to allow the bbq sauce to set and the chicken to increase the internal temperature another 5 degrees F.

How do you make chicken thigh crispy on the grill?

Use a meat tenderizer to create several small holes in the skin. This will allow some of the fat to escape. The skin will tear easily bite after bite.

Other Awesome BBQ / Smoking Recipes

BBQ Chicken Thigh Recipe

BBQ chicken thighs with crispy skin and grilled corn on a cutting board.

BBQ Chicken Thighs With Bite-Through Skin Recipe

Tired of your bbq chicken thighs having rubbery skin? Delicious bite-through bbq chicken thighs are achievable with one step.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: BBQ
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, grilling, summer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 618kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 8 Chicken Thighs Bone-in, skin-on
  • 16 tbsp Barbecue sauce Your favorite or ours.
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper freshly ground
  • 1/2 tsp Onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garlic powder

Instructions

  • Combine the kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl or ramekin. Mix well.
  • Trim any excess fat and skin from the thighs. Using a meat tenderizer, pierce the skin of all the thighs.
  •  Dust the chicken thighs with the rub on one side. Then turn them over and dust the other side.
  • Pull the skin taut so it’s even and tucked in as best as possible. Allow them to rest for an hour before cooking.
  • Set your smoker or grill to 425 degrees. Put the chicken thighs into the grill or smoker when it hits temperature.
  • Cook at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes. Use a meat thermometer (close to the bone) to check the internal temperature.
  • Remove from the heat when they reach 160 degrees F. and apply your bbq sauce to all sides of the chicken thighs and return to the grill.
  • Continue to cook for approximately 10 minutes for the sauce to tack up. Check the internal temperature and when they hit 180 degrees they’re ready.
  • Optionally, reapply barbecue sauce and put them back in for 10 minutes for a stronger BBQ taste.
  • Remove the chicken thighs from the grill (or smoker) and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with your favorite sides.

Nutrition

Calories: 618kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 221mg | Sodium: 1477mg | Potassium: 636mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 23g | Vitamin A: 334IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg

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