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Competition BBQ Chicken Thighs

This 3-step technique for cooking chicken thighs results in chicken that is very tender, moist, and loaded with sweet flavor.
Serves: 12



12 bone-in chicken thighs
½ lb unsalted butter, cut into 8 thin strips

Sweet & Savoury Spice Rub

3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
3 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp cayenne pepper


1 cup Kansas City-style BBQ Sauce
¼ cup honey
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 tsp apple cider vinegar

Food Safety

Before you start, wash all surfaces and your hands with soap and warm water, and remember to wash your hands, utensils and cutting boards after they touch raw meat or eggs. Avoid cross-contamination by using a different cutting board for your meat and other ingredients. Make sure you’re cooking to safe temperatures and chilling any leftovers within two hours. For more food safety tips, visit our Food Safety at Home Section.


  1. Preheat grill or smoker to 250°F, set up for indirect heat. Blend spice rub and set aside. Trim excess fat off chicken thighs.

  2. Sprinkle spice rub on bottom of chicken thighs, aim for 50% coverage of the meat. Turn chicken thighs over and apply the spice rub to the skin.

  3. Place chicken thighs on cooking grate inside grill. Cook or smoke for 1 hour.

  4. After 45 minutes, place butter into a 9×9″ pan, and place pan into grill so the butter melts. Remove the chicken thighs and place them into the pans with melted butter. Wrap pan tightly with aluminum foil.

  5. Continue cooking chicken, wrapped in a foil pan, for 1 more hour at 250°F.

  6. While chicken is cooking, prepare sauce: Whisk all sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Warm sauce, but do not boil. Sauce should be warm for applying to chicken.

  7. After the thighs have braised in butter for an hour, remove the chicken from the pans. Dip each thigh in the warm BBQ sauce and place back on the cooking grate inside the grill.

  8. Cook for 5 more minutes to allow the sauce to dry a bit and adhere to the chicken. Remove chicken from grill and serve.