When it comes to grilling chicken, marinating it in BBQ sauce can add a delicious flavor and tenderize the meat. However, there are a few things to consider before you start marinating your chicken in BBQ sauce. In this article, we will explore the benefits of marinating chicken in BBQ sauce and provide some tips for achieving the best results.

Why Marinate Chicken in BBQ Sauce?

Marinating chicken in BBQ sauce not only enhances its flavor but also helps to tenderize the meat. The acidic ingredients in the BBQ sauce, such as vinegar or citrus juice, help break down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture.

Benefits of marinating chicken in BBQ sauce:

  • Flavor: The smoky and tangy flavors of BBQ sauce complement the taste of grilled chicken perfectly.
  • Tenderness: Marinating chicken in BBQ sauce helps to break down tough muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender texture.
  • Juiciness: The marinade helps to retain moisture within the meat, preventing it from drying out during grilling.

Tips for Marinating Chicken in BBQ Sauce

1. Choose the Right Cut

When marinating chicken in BBQ sauce, it is important to choose the right cut. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs are ideal for marinating as they absorb flavors well and cook evenly on the grill.

2. Use a Ziplock Bag or Container

To ensure that every piece of chicken is coated with marinade evenly, place it in a ziplock bag or container with a tight-fitting lid. This allows you to easily turn the chicken and distribute the marinade evenly.

3. Marinate for an Optimal Time

Marinating chicken for too short a time may not allow the flavors to penetrate the meat, while marinating for too long can result in a mushy texture. As a general guideline, marinate chicken for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours for maximum flavor.

4. Reserve Some Sauce

Before adding raw chicken to the marinade, it is essential to set aside a portion of the BBQ sauce for basting during grilling. This way, you can avoid cross-contamination between raw and cooked chicken.

5. Properly Preheat the Grill

To achieve perfectly grilled chicken with a flavorful crust, preheat your grill to medium-high heat before cooking. This helps to sear the meat quickly and lock in the juices.

6. Baste During Cooking

While grilling the marinated chicken, baste it with reserved BBQ sauce every few minutes. This adds an extra layer of flavor and creates a sticky glaze on the surface of the meat.

Cooking Times for Marinated Chicken

The cooking time for marinated chicken depends on various factors such as cut thickness and grill temperature. As a general guideline:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: Grill for 6-8 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) is reached.
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: Grill for 5-7 minutes per side or until an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) is reached.

Remember to always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken is cooked through.


Marinating chicken in BBQ sauce can take your grilling game to the next level. Not only does it add incredible flavor, but it also helps tenderize the meat, resulting in juicy and delicious chicken. By following these tips and guidelines, you can achieve perfectly marinated and grilled chicken every time!