Brined and Barbecued Chicken Thighs

Main Course

Recipe courtesy of Louisiana Kitchen & Culture magazine

Serves 4

  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • olive oil as needed
  • barbecue sauce (recipe follows)



  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated onion
  • ¼ cup granulated garlic
  • ¼ cup cayenne pepper (optional)


BBQ Sauce

  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 4 cloves  garlic, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1½ cups ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 tablespoons cane syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cane or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste

BBQ Chicken Thighs

Click image to enlarge




Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely (never add uncooked chicken to warm brine.)

Add chicken pieces and submerge completely; top with a small saucer with a weight on top if necessary to keep chicken submerged. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.


Place onion, garlic, and carrot in the bowl of a food processor; pulse, scraping down the sides, until finely chopped.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; add chopped mixture and cook, stirring, until very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not brown. Stir in chile powder and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add smoked paprika; cook, stirring, for about a minute to give the paprika time to absorb some of the oil.

Add remaining ingredients except for salt, pepper, and cayenne, return to heat, bring to a high simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust, adding salt, pepper, and cayenne as desired. Continue to cook, stirring often, until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups.

Sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Leftovers are excellent stirred into baked beans.


Remove chicken pieces from brine and discard brine; place on a rack or platter and allow to come to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Preheat a grill to 375ºF.

Rub chicken pieces all over with olive oil and season with black pepper. Place on the grill, skin-side down, cover, and cook, undisturbed, for 8 minutes. Turn chicken, baste the skin generously with barbecue sauce, cover, and cook for another 8 minutes. Turn and baste; cook until skin is browned and sticky, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown remaining side; if desired, repeat process once to further glaze chicken. It should register 160ºF at the thickest part. Remove to a platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes, then serve.


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I don’t know if this is a typo, but 1 cup of salt is waaaaaaay too much. We did it according to the recipe, brined overnight, and everyone spit out the chicken on their first bite. It’s deathly salty with this recipe. Now that I had this experience I looked up other brine recipes, they have more like 2tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water.