Grilled Bourbon Chicken

If you’re looking for ways to switch up your grilled chicken game, this grilled bourbon chicken will not let you down.

Bourbon chicken on a bed of white rice on a dark plate, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.

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Why You Will Love This Recipe

This bourbon chicken has the flavors of that food court bourbon chicken you might know. I mixed it up by grilling it versus doing it on the stovetop. We love the caramelization and bits of char you get on the grill that you can’t duplicate on the stovetop.

The sauce comes together almost immediately and packs tons of flavor. It’s sweet with a great umami flavor that works great on chicken. Also, adding a bit of heat to this is as easy as adding an ingredient or two (see Variations).

So, outside of combining some ingredients and tossing them in a saucepan, you’re done in the kitchen. It’s to the grill for a quick cook, and dinner is served! Easy, flavorful, and not boring!

Ingredients Needed

The ingredients call for the usual suspects of Asian cooking—some garlic, ginger, hoisin, etc. Nothing on here will be challenging to find at your local grocery store. See the recipe card below for a complete list of ingredients and amounts.

Ingredients needed to make grilled bourbon chicken.

A note on the bourbon. Use what you would drink. While the alcohol does cook away, the flavor remains, so don’t use the crazy cheap stuff.

How To Make Grilled Bourbon Chicken

  • In a mixing bowl, add the cornstarch and water. Whisk to combine well. Next, add all the other sauce ingredients and whisk them together.
A cornstarch slurry in a small mixing bowl.
Bourbon sauce for bourbon chicken in a sauce pan.
  • Cook the sauce over a medium to medium-high heat. This has a fair amount of sugar, so it’s important to whisk often. Bring it to a simmer for about two minutes, whisking, until the sauce is thickened and will coat a spoon. Set aside.
Bourbon sauce for bourbon chicken in a sauce pan.
Bourbon sauce, cooked, with a spoon showing off the thickness.
  • Cut the chicken thighs into your preferred size. I usually get about three cuts out of one thigh. If you prefer smaller bites, cut them smaller. Skewer the chicken thighs and place them onto your grill over medium heat.
Raw chicken thighs, skewered, on a sheet pan.
Raw chicken thighs, skewered, on the grill.


If you’re using wooden skewers, soak them thoroughly for at least one hour before grilling. We employ a wide skew such as these, making turning much more manageable.

  • Cook the chicken over medium heat, turning often, until the chicken develops some decent color. Apply the sauce generously over the top, then turn and repeat. Continue to do this, building levels of sauce on the chicken.
Skewered chicken thighs cooking on a grill.
Bourbon chicken on the grill.
  • Cook to your preferred color and char and the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees F. I take our dark meat to 175 to 180 degrees F. We also like some decent char on our chicken as, for me, it imparts a flavor we enjoy. When ready, remove from the grill. Optionally, hit them with any remaining sauce.
Bourbon chicken on the grill.
Bourbon chicken on the grill.
  • Remove from the skewers and serve this sticky, delish chicken with any of your favorite sides. Optionally, garnish with sesame seeds and green onions.
Bourbon chicken on a bed of white rice on a dark plate, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.
Bourbon chicken on a bed of white rice on a dark plate, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.

This dish screams rice. It makes an excellent side to go with this flavorful chicken. If you want more flavorful rice or side dish, try our Cilantro Lime Rice or our Easy Vegetable Lo Mein. Both would pair deliciously.


  • For this bourbon chicken recipe ensure your chicken is cut to uniform sizes for even cooking. Skewer them tightly to prevent excessive movement on the grill, which helps in creating an even char.
  • Maintain a medium heat to prevent the sugars in the sauce from burning. Turn the skewers frequently for even caramelization and to avoid flare-ups from dripping sauce.
  • Apply the sauce in layers, allowing each to caramelize before adding the next. This builds up a rich, sticky coating that enhances the flavor.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes after grilling. This allows the juices to redistribute, making the meat more tender and flavorful. Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and green onions for added texture and freshness.


  • Add a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce or diced jalapeños to the bourbon sauce for a spicy kick that complements the sweet and umami flavors.
  • Substitute half of the brown sugar with honey for a different depth of sweetness and a slightly thicker glaze.


Can I make this recipe without bourbon?

Yes, you can substitute the bourbon with apple juice or chicken broth for a non-alcoholic version, though the distinct bourbon flavor will be missing.

How can I prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill?

Ensure your grill is well-oiled before placing the chicken on it. Additionally, letting the chicken sear undisturbed for a few minutes before turning can help prevent sticking.

Can this recipe be made with chicken breasts?

Absolutely! Chicken breasts can be used instead of thighs but watch the cooking time as breasts tend to cook faster and can dry out if overcooked. Adjust the internal temperature to 165 degrees F for breasts.

Other Easy And Delicious Grilled Recipes

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Bourbon chicken on a bed of white rice on a dark plate, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion.

Grilled Bourbon Chicken Recipe

Make your BBQ unforgettable with our Grilled Bourbon Chicken, where savory meets sweet in a dish that's bound to impress.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American, Asian
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 432kcal



  • 2 lb Chicken thighs cut to desired size

Bourbon Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Soy sauce Low sodium (or regular)
  • 1/4 cup Bourbon
  • 1/4 cup Brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp Garlic diced finely
  • 1 tsp Ginger diced finely
  • Sesame seeds optional
  • Green onions cut on a bias, optional.


  • In a mixing bowl, whisk cornstarch and water until smooth. Add soy sauce, bourbon, brown sugar, hoisin sauce, garlic, and ginger. Whisk together.
    1/2 cup Water, 1 tbsp Cornstarch, 1/2 cup Soy sauce, 1/4 cup Bourbon, 1/4 cup Brown sugar, 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce, 1 tsp Garlic, 1 tsp Ginger
  • Over medium to medium-high heat, cook the sauce while whisking often, until it simmers and thickens enough to coat a spoon, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
  • Cut chicken thighs into preferred sizes. If using wooden skewers, soak them for at least one hour. Skewer the chicken pieces.
    2 lb Chicken thighs
  • Place skewers on grill over medium heat. Grill, turning often, until chicken develops color. Baste with sauce, turn, and repeat to build flavor layers.
  • Cook to internal temperature of at least165°F (175°F to 180°F is recommended). Remove from grill, let rest. Serve
  • Optionally, Serve garnished with sesame seeds and green onions alongside your favorite sides.
    Sesame seeds, Green onions


How do I store and reheat leftovers?
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently in a skillet over medium heat with a splash of water or in the microwave, covered, to prevent drying out.


Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 149mg | Sodium: 1386mg | Potassium: 380mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 119IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 29mg | Iron: 2mg

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