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The best summer meal! Whether you’re entertaining friends for a cookout or just preparing a quick weeknight meal, this grilled bbq chicken breast always wins rave reviews. Season the boneless, skinless chicken breast with a simple rub, throw it onto a gas or charcoal grill, and baste with barbecue sauce. Served with pasta salad, mac and cheese, cornbread or coleslaw, this grilled chicken recipe is a picnic favorite!

Side shot of bbq grilled chicken breast on a platter on a dinner table.
Table of Contents
  1. Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe
  2. Ingredients
  3. How to Make Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast
  4. What to Serve with Grilled BBQ Chicken
  5. Preparation and Storage Tips
  6. Recipe Variations
  7. Tips for the Best Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe
  8. Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe

Grilled BBQ Chicken Recipe

There’s nothing better than grilled BBQ chicken breast on a warm summer evening. It’s flavorful, light, and versatile — and with a few simple tips it stays juicy and moist (not dry or tough). Plus, this easy meal is incredibly fast! You only need about 10 minutes of prep and 10 minutes to cook the meat, so the entire dinner is ready in 20 minutes.

Serve the grilled bbq chicken with your favorite sides, slice it on top of a crisp green salad, or tuck it into a sandwich. Leftovers are great on salad, on pizza, or in wraps, too! And if you love grilled chicken as much as we do, you should definitely try this garlic and herb grilled chicken breast, these marinated chicken thighs, or this chicken shawarma!

Horizontal shot of a tray full of homemade bbq rub for ribs and chicken

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for grilled bbq chicken breast. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts: you can also substitute with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
  • Olive oil: helps the chicken brown, adds flavor, and prevents it from sticking to the grill.
  • BBQ dry rub: we always use this simple homemade BBQ seasoning blend, which we keep in a big jar in our pantry for easy access. It includes brown sugar, smoked paprika, kosher salt, chili powder, onion powder, and garlic powder. If you prefer, you can substitute with your favorite store-bought BBQ rub or just use kosher salt and black pepper (the chicken will get a lot of flavor from the BBQ sauce).
  • Barbecue sauce: use your favorite homemade bbq sauce or pick a high-quality store-bought sauce. We like Stubb’s sauce (which has a vinegary tang) or Sweet Baby Ray’s (a sweeter, thicker option).
Chicken breasts seasoned with a bbq dry rub

How to Make Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast

Detailed instructions for both a charcoal and a gas grill are included in the recipe card below, so pick your favorite method. An indoor grill pan on the stovetop will also work, but you can’t beat the smoky char from a classic outdoor grill! Here’s the quick overview:

  1. Pound chicken breasts until ½-inch thick. You don’t want them as thin as cutlets, but pounding them to an even thickness will help the chicken cook quickly and evenly so that it stays tender and juicy.
  2. Rub chicken with olive oil and season with bbq rub.
  3. Grill the chicken until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  4. Baste the chicken with the bbq sauce towards the end.
  5. Let the chicken rest before slicing and serving.
Close up square image of grilled bbq chicken breast.

What is the Best Meat Mallet to Pound the Chicken Breasts?

If you don’t have a meat mallet to thin out the chicken breasts into even pieces, check out this list of the best meat tenderizers. It includes the one I own, the Oxo Good Grips, which is a mallet-style pounder and is available on Amazon for $26.

What to Serve with Grilled BBQ Chicken

The best grilled chicken is delicious when served on top of a green salad or when tucked inside a grilled bbq chicken sandwich. You can also pair the meat with any of your favorite picnic sides. Here are a few easy ideas:

Sliced grilled bbq chicken breast on a platter

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • Prep ahead: pound the chicken and rub with seasoning up to 24 hours in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.
  • Wrapped tightly, the grilled chicken breast will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can also store the chicken in the freezer for up to 3 months.
  • Use leftover barbecue chicken on sandwiches, wraps, or salads for easy lunches or dinners throughout the week.

Recipe Variations

  • Grilled BBQ Chicken Thighs: substitute boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the chicken breast shown here. Thighs are generally more of an even thickness, so you don’t need to pound them flat. Thighs will cook in about 3-5 minutes per side.
  • Use homemade bbq rub, pick your favorite store-bought bbq rub, or just season the chicken with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
  • For a shortcut, baste the chicken with a high-quality store-bought barbecue sauce (we like Stubb’s brand or Sweet Baby Ray’s, but any similar variety is great). You can also make your own barbecue sauce if you prefer.
Platter of grilled bbq chicken breast with a side of coleslaw and cornbread.

Tips for the Best Grilled BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe

  • Pound the chicken breast to an even thickness. This will help to ensure that the meat cooks evenly and quickly so that you don’t end up with half of a breast that’s too dry, while the other half is still raw.
  • Get the grill nice and hot. Chicken breast is a very lean meat, so it stays juiciest when cooked quickly over high heat.
  • Wait to brush on the barbecue sauce until the final 3-4 minutes of grilling. This will prevent the chicken from burning on the grill. Serve additional sauce on the side.
  • The total grilling time will vary depending on a number of different factors, such as the temperature of your grill, the temperature of your chicken when it goes on the grill, and the size and thickness of your chicken. As a result, it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to know exactly when your chicken is done. You’re looking for an internal temp of 165°F for chicken breast.
  • Allow the meat to rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing. The juices will redistribute throughout the meat so that the chicken breast stays nice and juicy.
Grilled bbq chicken breast on a dinner table with a side of cornbread and coleslaw.

More BBQ Chicken Recipes to Try

Square side shot of grilled bbq chicken breast on a platter.

BBQ Chicken Breast (Grilled or Oven Baked)

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Resting Time 5 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 317 kcal
Grilled outdoors or baked in the oven, this BBQ chicken breast is a quick and easy summer meal!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 (6-8 ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed (or substitute with about 1 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons BBQ rub seasoning (or substitute with a store-bought rub or just use kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste)
  • ½ cup barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving

Instructions

  • Cover chicken breast with plastic wrap and pound gently with meat mallet or rolling pin until ½-inch thick.
    Pounding boneless skinless chicken breast on a tray.
  • Rub each piece of chicken with olive oil; season on all sides with BBQ rub (or kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste).
    Process shot showing how to make bbq chicken breast.

CHARCOAL GRILL:

  • Open the bottom vent completely. Light the large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes. When the top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
    Square side shot of grilled bbq chicken breast on a platter.

GAS GRILL:

  • Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
  • Oil the cooking grate. Place the chicken on the grill and cook (covered if using gas) until the chicken has nice grill marks, about 3-5 minutes. Flip the chicken over and continue to cook until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 3-5 more minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce during the final 3 minutes.
  • Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with additional sauce on the side.

ALTERNATE OVEN METHOD:

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup, if desired. Place the seasoned chicken on the prepared baking sheet.
  • Bake until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 15 minutes. Baste with barbecue sauce during the final 3 minutes. For more of a char on the outside, place the chicken under the broiler for the final 1-2 minutes. If the chicken's under the broiler, keep a close eye on it because it can burn quickly.

Notes

  • Get the grill nice and hot. Chicken breast is a very lean meat, so it stays juiciest when cooked quickly over high heat.
  • The total grilling time will vary depending on a number of different factors, such as the temperature of your grill, the temperature of your chicken when it goes on the grill, and the size and thickness of your chicken. As a result, it’s always best to use a meat thermometer to know exactly when your chicken is done. You’re looking for an internal temp of 165°F for chicken breast perfection!
  • If using boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you don’t need to pound them flat. Grill them for about 3-5 minutes per side, or roast in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken breastCalories: 317kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 36gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 109mgSodium: 565mgPotassium: 712mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 131IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: bbq chicken breast, grilled bbq chicken breast, grilled chicken, grilled chicken breast, oven BBQ chicken breast
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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