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How Long to BBQ Chicken Thighs?

Barbecuing chicken thighs is a popular choice for outdoor cooking enthusiasts. The succulent and juicy meat, combined with the smoky flavors from the grill, makes for a delicious meal. However, achieving perfectly cooked chicken thighs requires careful attention to cooking time and temperature. In this article, we will explore the ideal cooking time for BBQ chicken thighs, as well as discuss essential tips to ensure your chicken is cooked to perfection.

The Importance of Cooking Time

When it comes to barbecuing chicken thighs, cooking time is of utmost importance. Undercooking chicken can lead to harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, being present in the meat, while overcooking can result in dry and tough chicken. Therefore, finding the right balance is crucial to achieve a safe and flavorful outcome.

Chicken thighs, being dark meat, generally require longer cooking times compared to chicken breasts. The higher fat content and connective tissue in thighs contribute to their longer cook time. Additionally, bone-in chicken thighs may take a bit longer than boneless ones due to the added density from the bones.

Cooking Temperatures and Times

To ensure your BBQ chicken thighs are cooked thoroughly, it’s essential to monitor both the cooking temperature and time. The internal temperature of properly cooked chicken should reach a minimum of 165°F (74°C) to ensure any harmful bacteria are eliminated.

A helpful guideline for grilling bone-in chicken thighs is to start them over direct heat for around 8-10 minutes per side, depending on their thickness. Once browned, move the thighs to indirect heat and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes. This method allows for a crisp outer layer while ensuring the meat is evenly cooked throughout.

For boneless chicken thighs, reduce the cooking time by a few minutes as they tend to cook slightly faster. Aim for approximately 6-8 minutes per side over direct heat, followed by around 15-20 minutes over indirect heat.

Tips for Perfectly Grilled Chicken Thighs

To achieve the best results when grilling chicken thighs, consider the following tips:

  1. Marinate or brine the chicken: Marinating or brining the chicken thighs before grilling can add extra flavor and help retain moisture during cooking. Consider using a marinade or brine that complements your desired flavors.
  2. Preheat the grill: Preheating the grill is essential to ensure even cooking. Aim for a medium-high heat (around 375-450°F or 190-230°C) before placing the chicken on the grill.
  3. Oil the grill grates: Prevent the chicken from sticking to the grill by oiling the grates before placing the meat on them. Use a pair of tongs and a paper towel soaked in oil to coat the grates evenly.
  4. Use a meat thermometer: To determine whether the chicken thighs are cooked thoroughly, use a meat thermometer to check their internal temperature. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone.
  5. Let them rest: After removing the chicken from the grill, allow it to rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavorful chicken.

Inspiring Flavors for BBQ Chicken Thighs

Now that you have a good understanding of the cooking times and tips for barbecuing chicken thighs, let’s explore some delicious flavor combinations to elevate your grilling experience:

1. Honey Mustard Glazed: Combine honey, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for a sweet and tangy glaze that pairs perfectly with grilled chicken thighs.

2. Teriyaki Style: Marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and sesame oil. The result is a savory and slightly sweet Asian-inspired marinade that enhances the natural flavors of the chicken.

3. Smoky Chipotle: Create a marinade using chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, lime juice, garlic, and a touch of honey. This combination adds a smoky and spicy kick to your BBQ chicken thighs.


When it comes to barbecuing chicken thighs, finding the right balance of cooking time and temperature is key. Remember to cook your chicken thoroughly, ensuring an internal temperature of at least 165°F (74°C). By following the tips and flavor suggestions provided in this article, you can create delicious and succulent BBQ chicken thighs that will impress your guests at your next outdoor gathering.