Old Fashion BBQ Chicken and Sauce

Old fashione bbq chicken and sauce
This old fashioned BBQ chicken with an easy BBQ rub and a no cook BBQ sauce will have the neighbors swooning when they smell it on your grill. A family classic recipe-I know you will love it!

BBQ Chicken with Sauce on Grill

Every now and then, my mom would BBQ chicken. We weren’t like my husband’s family from Texas, who bbq’ed briskets and such. We did chicken and that was our BBQ.

If my mom wasn’t opening a blue and red jar (I can’t remember the name) of BBQ sauce, she sometimes made her own. That was a special treat.

I don’t have her recipe, but I believe it was similar to the one I’m sharing today. I kept it simple, but perused a few of my old cookbooks that soon might be labeled vintage.

It seems most old fashioned sauces contained butter, lemon juice and ketchup. Pretty consistent, they were.

This simple sauce is better than most. That’s really downplaying this sauce. Honestly? This rich sauce is INCREDIBLE!

It is tart and sweet with a good dose of garlic and black pepper. Please make a double batch because it keeps well in the fridge.

Trust me. You will find lots of reasons to use it!

This sweet and savory sauce requires no cooking though it does require melting butter. You can do that, can’t you?

Buy a whole chicken and cut it into pieces. Chicken has more flavor if cooked still on the bone.

You can buy a cut up chicken but often I end up with one huge thigh and one small thigh and I’d just rather have my thighs the same size, thank you very much! So, I cut my own.

BBQ Chicken on a White Plate with Sauce

Or feel free to spatchcock your chicken by cutting the backbone out. Press on the breastbone to flatten it and then place it on the grill with the dark meat facing the hottest part of the grill.

But before I even get this chicken to the grill, I cover it with the rub recipe below. This amps up the flavor of the chicken and it what makes this the best bbq chicken recipe ever!

Now preheat your grill to high. So yes. I do use a gas grill. I left the charcoal grilling to my dad. 

My dad probably would have used charcoal, at least until he got a gas grill. And he probably would have been yelled at for burning the chicken.

But really it’s when the sugar in the rub caramelizes that the chicken sends out that great bbq perfume throughout the neighborhood.

That’s when everyone starts thinking I wish we were having what they are having tonight!

Spatchcocked BBQ Chicken

I think I never got into charcoal grilling because honestly I’m afraid to light a match. (My mother was a smoker and put the fear of God into us kids and to this day I hate lighting matches. I use those long handled lighters, if I must!)

I use an indirect method of grilling which means first you preheat the entire grill to high. When you are ready to put the chicken on, turn one side of the grill off.

Place the chicken on the grill with the dark meat facing the hottest part of the grill. 

Cook it low and slow, but it should be done in about an hour.

Don’t brush on the BBQ sauce until the end. Don’t worry if it gets a little black. It is still good that way.

I always serve my bbq chicken with an ear of corn on the side and some watermelon. Potato salad, coleslaw, some garlic bread also works! Baked beans.

Boy, you could almost skip the BBQ chicken, with all those great side dishes, but then you’d miss that  summer smell!

BBQ Sauce Homemade

Growing up across the street from a popular park meant that our neighborhood always smelled good. 

We were always able to catch the drift of what was cooking somewhere in our vicinity. Was it hot dogs or hamburgers, ribs or most likely, BBQ chicken.

It was always fun scouting the park, looking for friends, while also checking out everyone’s picnic table.

The red checked tablecloths were topped with bags of chips and potato salad, coleslaw, watermelon, sodas and baked beans.

It always looked like fun, as our family was not big into picnics. I think we tried it once, but my dad thought it was a lot of work when we could just eat the same food at home.

BBQ Chicken with Sauce

Myself? I love a good outing. And I love to bbq.  

And if you love bbq, then this bbq chicken with a homemade bbq sauce is not to be missed!

Be prepared for your neighbors to guess what you are cooking.  Without a doubt they will want to fire up their grill, too!

Shoot-be a neighbor and invite them over. BBQ season is for sharing!

bbq chicken, grill

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BBQ Chicken and Sauce

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Old fashione bbq chicken and sauce

Old Fashion BBQ Chicken and Sauce

  • Author: Abbe Odenwalder
  • Prep Time: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 - 60 Minutes
  • Total Time: 80 Minutes
  • Yield: 4 - 6 Servings 1x
  • Category: Chicken
  • Method: Grill
  • Cuisine: American


This old fashioned bbq chicken recipe includes a great rub and a phenomenal bbq sauce!


  • 1 cut up chicken (I usually cut each breast into two pieces)


  • 1 T brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 T paprika
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • 1 T black pepper
  • 1 t salt


  • 6 T ketchup
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 T Worcestershire
  • 6 T brown sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 t dry mustard
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1 t paprika
  • 1/2 t celery seed (the secret ingredient)
  • 4 T melted butter


Chicken Rub:
  • Mix all ingredients together. Rub all over chicken and let sit as long as you can. Overnight works, too.
  • BBQ Sauce
  • Mix all ingredients together and set aside in refrigerator until ready to use. (I usually make a double batch because I love this stuff!)
Cooking the chicken:
  • Preheat grill to high. When ready to cook chicken, turn off one side of the grill.
  • Place chicken on grill with dark meat toward the hotter part of the grill. Cook low and slow. Total cooking time is about one hour but after about 45 minutes, start checking your chicken. I always use a meat thermometer.
  • When it is close to ready, brush with sauce. Shut the grill and let this cook for a few more minutes. Brush again until the chicken is cooked to your liking. Brush with sauce, shut grill lid, and let it kind of melt in. You can turn it over if you like a few blackened spots. This can take about 5 minutes.
  • Serve leftover sauce on the side. White meat usually cooks the fastest. If this happens, place it on the grill side that is turned off, to keep it warm.


Make sure chicken is at room temperature before placing on the grill. Otherwise the chicken will take longer to cook.

Times below do not include time for the chicken to marinate.

Keywords: best bbq chicken recipe, bbq chicken, grilled bbq chicken, bbq chicken sauce, homemade bbq sauce

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  • Susan
    July 7, 2020 at 11:06 am

    I dearly love BBQ chicken and this recipe sounds fantastic, Abbe! It’s so hot here that grilling outside it better than heating up the oven these days 🙂

    • Abbe
      July 13, 2020 at 9:44 pm

      It’s been hot here, too! You will love this chicken, Susan!

  • Pattie
    July 3, 2020 at 9:45 am

    I have been CRAVING barbecued chicken, and this looks phenomenal. I’ll be trying it!

  • Healthy World Cuisine
    July 1, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Your old fashion BBQ chicken looks finger licking delicious. Perfect for this weekend’s grilling and chilling. Saved to all of our favorite boards.

  • Balvinder
    June 30, 2020 at 8:24 am

    I do love nicely grilled chicken. It looks great for a great summer day.

  • John / Kitchen Riffs
    June 30, 2020 at 8:18 am

    Such a great recipe! BBQ chicken is such good stuff. And I love that char!

  • Chef Mimi
    June 30, 2020 at 6:24 am

    Great story! And that’s a good looking sauce. It’s funny about your secret ingredient, cause I really dislike celery seeds. But sometimes I do use them, reluctantly. I like celery. I hate celeriac. Maybe that’s the connection. Anyway, good looking chicken. I’m ready to cook and share!

    • Abbe
      June 30, 2020 at 7:49 am

      I am not a great fan of celery seeds either. But just a bit gives this sauce that little extra something. However you can leave them out!

  • Adam J. Holland
    May 29, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I know that smell, and I know that taste. I also remember what it tastes like between bites of buttered corn on the cob. Thanks for the memories and the wonderful recipe.

  • The Sketched Chef
    August 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    That looks absolutely delicious !
    Perfect for summer.

  • Abbe Odenwalder
    August 14, 2013 at 4:20 am

    Thanks Uru! Hope your final went well! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Guru Uru
    August 13, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    Your BBQ chicken looks utterly delicious, so summery for sure!


  • Abbe Odenwalder
    August 13, 2013 at 2:33 am

    They are and thank you!

  • The Sketched Chef
    August 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    They look extremely delicious !

  • Tricia Buice
    August 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

    I am absolutely drooling. This chicken looks amazing and the sauce – well I won't be happy now until I have some!

  • ChgoJohn
    August 11, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    This sounds so good, Abbe. I vividly remember the scent of chicken grilling on the barbecue. I need to do it again and this time I'll use your barbecue sauce. Love that it doesn't start with,"Take a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce … " Ugh! No, I will give yours a try and the rub. And I bet I have a wonderful dinner that night! Thanks for sharing both recipes, Abbe.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 12, 2013 at 3:44 am

      I'm sure there are a lot of good bottles out there but you and I know that homemade is the best way! Thanks John!

  • Laura Dembowski
    August 11, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    I love when I can smell food, whether I'm making it or my neighbors or nearby restaurants, it always makes me happy!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 12, 2013 at 3:43 am

      Food smells definitely make people happy unless it is a bag of burning microwave popcorn. That doesn't go over so well and don't ask me how I know!

  • Amy
    August 11, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Your BBQ chicken looks succulent! I agree, this is exactly what summer smells like. Love BBQ in the summer.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 12, 2013 at 3:42 am

      Thanks Amy. I want some of those chocolate hazelnut things for dessert!

  • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes
    August 11, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Here, weekends most of all, the smell is of charcoal or wood burning, as people start their barbecues, a big deal here. I love those smells! Homemade bbq sauce is addictive Abbe! Must try this recipe, rub and all.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 12, 2013 at 3:41 am

      Enjoy Paula. It is addictive and something I miss in winter.

  • Shulie Foodwanderings
    August 11, 2013 at 2:42 am

    Oooh this BBQ chix & sauce look so awesome. I always look for new recipes now that I have one I absolutely love it's time to widen my horizons. 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 12, 2013 at 3:40 am

      Sometimes it is hard to switch but it is always fun to try something new! Thanks Shulie. just leave out the butter!

  • Liz Berg
    August 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    Your chicken is grilled to perfection!!! And your BBQ sauce sounds terrific. We're grilling ribs tonight…with a side of corn on the cob, of course 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:33 am

      Ooh, this would be good on ribs, too! And I can never have enough corn. that's what happens after growing up in Illinois.

  • Cathleen
    August 10, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    Wow. These looks too good! I'm always looking for more chicken recipes, yum!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:32 am

      Thanks Cathleen. This one has stood the test of time!

  • cquek
    August 10, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Can’t wait to give them a try. 🙂

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:32 am

      Cquek start a new trend in Hong Kong!

  • Kitchen Riffs
    August 10, 2013 at 3:02 am

    Is it even legal not to burn your chicken a little bit? Love that char, even though I know many frown on it. I've never met a BBQ sauce I didn't like, and this one is no exception – looks mighty tasty. Heck, I have a red & white checked table cloth somewhere – I need to pull it out and make this! 😉 Good stuff – thanks.

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:31 am

      I like it a little charred, too! Just like I like my marshmallows! Get out that cloth! it is true that all BBq sauces are pretty dang good!

  • NancyC
    August 10, 2013 at 1:48 am

    That sounds so good! BBQ chicken is a great summer dish!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:30 am

      It was good Nancy. We fought over leftovers today!

  • Cindy
    August 9, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    what great memories this brings back! Wish I had some now. cindy

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 11, 2013 at 3:29 am

      Thanks Cindy. And Mark just informed me that mom used Open Pit. They don't sell it here. You should be hearing from Alex soon!

  • Abbe Odenwalder
    August 9, 2013 at 8:22 pm

    Thanks Angie. I think I'll go get a piece for lunch.

  • Natalie G
    August 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Well your pictures have me drooling over here, seems like the perfect chicken bbq!

    • Abbe Odenwalder
      August 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      It is Natalie! I love when someone compliments my pictures.I guess I did well, today!

  • Angie Schneider
    August 9, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    They are mouthwatering, Abbe. The photos, esp. the one those chicken sitting on the grill, look so dang tempting!