Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 36

This is the final installment of my three part series in which I partnered with Kraft Barbecue Sauce to celebrate winter grilling and Evergrillers everywhere. An Evergriller is someone who sees the forecast for snow and instead of mobbing the grocery store for the ingredients to french toast, strolls past two people fighting for the last gallon of milk to the meat department and selects a couple slabs of ribs or some chicken. The Evergriller needs a pair of Ski-BQs to clear a path to their grill on a particularly snowy day:

57570 Kraft BBQ Grilling Tools_1912_r1

These things are a little ridiculous. They’re snow shoes with little snow plows on the front with a place to hold the Kraft Barbecue Sauce while you clear a path to the grill. And despite these things being goofy and this being a paid post, there are a TON of great tips in this post. 

In the first installment, I discussed my top tips for winter grilling and there was is a fantastic free raffle for a year’s worth of Kraft Barbecue Sauce. In the second installment, for the first time on this site, I showed How to Make Fall Off the Bone Ribs. In this final post in the series, I’m going to talk about grilling chicken.

I know, I know. Most of you who are reading this know how to grill chicken. You’ve been doing it for years. You’ve got it down. You know what you’re doing. But did you know that about 90% of people make one of two major mistakes when grilling chicken? I’m not talking about a beer can chicken or even a spatchcocked chicken. I’m talking about a mess of chicken parts – breasts, thighs, legs and wings. Let me ask this question. Do you place the chicken pieces on the grill all at once or do you place them on according to size with the breasts going on first because they are the biggest? Truth is, neither method should be used. Intrigued? Read on and I’ll go through the proper way of putting the chicken on the grill, but first we have some prep to do.

First, brine that bird. Brining infuses the meat with more moisture as liquid from the brine is pushed from the salt solution to the less salty solution, namely the liquid inside the meat of the chicken. It also starts to break down connective tissue which makes the meat tenderer. And finally, if using something other than water like say apple juice, root beer, coffee, beer or wine, when the liquid goes from the salt solution into the meat, it also takes some flavors with it. In short, brining makes meat juicier, more tender and tastier.  Win, win, win!

Brining is simple. The ratio is one cup of salt per gallon of liquid. My basic brine is apple cider or juice (if the cider is not available), salt, garlic, and black pepper.

Brine Ingredients:

1 qt apple cider
¼ cup salt
1/8 cup garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Place the brine ingredients in a bag and slosh around to get the salt to dissolve. Then place the chicken in the fridge for as little as four hours to overnight:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 01

Next up, we’re going to slather this chicken in mayonnaise and your favorite rub:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 04a

I know some of you are wrinkling your nose right now. Trust me here. Mix a cup of mayo with a ¼ cup of the rub:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 05

Remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry with paper towels and then dredge it through the mayo/rub mixture. You might need a spoon to help spread it evenly:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 06

I know this process doesn’t sound appealing to some. Raw poultry with the added bonus of some mayonnaise? And what if you don’t like mayo? Don’t worry. You won’t taste the mayonnaise. On the grill, the mayo is going to completely melt away, but before it does, it will continually baste the chicken, leaving the rub on the bird. It will also help to crisp up the skin.

Now let’s go prepare the grill. We’re going with two zone grilling with coals on one side and the chicken on the other. On a kamado style grill like this one, I put a half moon plate or plate setter in the bottom and put a chunk of smoke wood on the coals (in this case apple wood):

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 07

Don’t mind the fact that I broke off the corner of my plate setter. It happens. The reason for the half moon plate setter is so I can sear later.

Target temperature inside the grill is 300.

Seeing how it was hovering around 35 degrees, the day I grilled this chicken, I did a few things to help ensure I maintained the proper temperature. First, I added a little more charcoal than usual and second, I moved my grill over by my fence so the fence would act as a wind break as I mentioned in my post about Evergrilling tips for winter grilling with the Kraft Barbecue Sauce giveaway:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 08

Time to grill some chicken! Place the thighs on the grill first:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 09

Despite the breasts being bigger the thighs take the longest to cook because they have much more fat. Any time the breast is put on before or at the same time as the thighs, the breasts will be overcooked before the thighs are done. Place the thighs on first and close the lid for about ten minutes.

Then place the breasts on and close the lid for another ten minutes:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 10

Next, throw on the legs for about five minutes and you can see that this thigh is already browning up nicely as the mayonnaise melts away:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 12

Followed by the wings:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 13

Smoke the chicken until the mayo has melted off and the chicken has reached an internal temperature of around 120-130 degrees. This took about an hour and 20 minutes from the time I put on the thighs but this may vary depending on heat of the grill and the size of the chicken pieces. At this point, we want to sear the chicken and get some nice char action. Brown up the outside of the chicken by placing the pieces over the hot side of the grill:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 17

I couldn’t resist another shot of some seared chicken:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 18

Now back over to the cool side and slather with some Kraft Barbecue Sauce:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 22

Don’t settle for some boring sauce. Go with reinvented Kraft Barbecue Sauces which use tomatoes and none of that high fructose corn syrup. Can you say sweet molasses? I know I can, which is why I’m really excited to be partnered with Kraft Barbecue Sauce.

For this recipe, I’m going with the Kraft Thick & Spicy Barbecue Sauce variety to counter the sweetness of the brine and make it a well balanced flavor profile.

Spread that sauce around:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 20

Also, load up with more smoke wood as we come down the stretch. The chicken won’t take on much more smoke flavor, but that Kraft Thick & Spicy Barbecue Sauce will. So infuse that sauce with some smoke.

Here’s the second coating of sauce and it’s getting really thick and gooey:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 25

Once the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165, remove it from the heat and let it rest for a couple minutes. For me that’s easy as I always have to take the final shots. For those that have been lusting after this succulent chicken all afternoon, it might be a bit harder:

Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken - 28

In the end, if done properly, the chicken should be super juicy with an added sweetness from the brine, the skin should have the caramelized proteins from the searing infused that wonderful rub, all coated with some amazing, smoky Kraft Thick & Spicy Barbecue Sauce. Basically, layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of flavor. I could’ve called this recipe Cider brined, Mayo Magic, Reverse Seared and Sauced Grilled Chicken, but that seemed a little over the top so I went with the Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken.

Full disclosure, I received compensation and product samples from Kraft Barbecue Sauce for this post, but as you know, I wouldn’t back anything I didn’t absolutely believe in. The opinions expressed above and recipes are my own and I stand by them. If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email. Here’s my email address.


Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken

Cider brined, mayo magic, revers seared, sauced grilled chicken, otherwise known as the Ultimate Guide to Grilled Chicken
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Total Time1 hr 50 mins
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Servings: 4 -6 services


  • 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
  • 1 qt apple cider
  • ¼ cup salt
  • cup garlic minced
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ your favorite rub
  • 6 oz Kraft Barbecue Sauce


  • Combine the cider, salt, garlic and pepper in a resealable plastic bag and swirl around until the salt is dissolved and then add the chicken
  • Soak in the brine for 2-12 hours
  • Combine the mayonnaise and the rub in a bowl
  • Remove the chicken from the brine, blot dry with a paper towel
  • Dredge the chicken through the mayo/rub mixture
  • Prepare the grill for two zone/indirect grilling with a target temperature of 300 degrees
  • Place the thighs on the grill and close the lid for 10 minutes
  • Place the breasts on the grill and close the lid for 5 minutes
  • Place the legs on the grill and close the lid for 5 minutes
  • Place the wings on the grill and close the lid for 5 minutes
  • Once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 120-130 degrees and the mayonnaise has melted off, place over the hot side of the grill and sear the skin to crisp it up
  • Place back over the cool side of the grill and slather with Kraft Barbecue Sauce and close the lid
  • minutes later, hit it with another layer of sauce
  • When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, remove from the grill
  • Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before diving in
Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Original Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to college with a suitcase and a grill where he overcooked, undercooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thousands of failures, and quite a few successes, nearly two decades later he started a website to show step by step, picture by picture, foolproof instructions on how to make great things out of doors so that others don’t have to repeat the mistakes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

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I have never heard of using mayo prior to throwing the bird on the grill. I usually go for crispy skin with a dry rub. I will have to give this a try here soon. Enjoy the blog… keep up the good work.


Let me know how it comes out, Keegan…


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