Easy Caramelized Barbecue Chicken Thighs

If you’re in search of a super quick and easy weeknight meal, look no further. Chicken thighs are a serious player in our test kitchen. The reason? It’s almost impossible to overcook them. That’s because the makeup of a chicken thigh and leg is unique from a chicken breast. Dark meat has an abundant amount of connective tissue, which dissolves into gelatin as the meat cooks, rendering it juicy and tender. The longer it cooks, the more it breaks down. This means that chicken thighs are good at 175° Fahrenheit, but they’re also great when you take them to 195°. We like to pre-season our chicken thighs for extra flavor that penetrates through the entire cut of meat.

For this recipe, we’re using boneless skinless thighs because they are so quick and easy. That said, feel free to cook with the bone in and the skin on and just watch it closely, turning often so the skin doesn’t scorch.

Now here’s our secret pre-seasoning ingredient…pickle juice.

Yep, you read that correctly! Pickle juice works magic on chicken, chemically breaking down the proteins and penetrating with the salt to give you a tender succulent thigh with just a bit of extra tang. Finally something to do with your leftover pickle juice!

We hope you enjoy our recipe for Barbecue chicken thighs and come back soon for more fun recipe ideas!

Recipe from Portlandia Foods Showing BBQ Sauce and Grilled Chicken


  • 6-8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (legs work well also!)
  • 1 cup pickle juice
  • 1 TB high smoke point neutral oil (we used avocado)
  • Portland Organic BBQ sauce for basting and extra for dipping!


1. In a bowl or plastic bag, combine chicken thighs and pickle juice and allow to brine for 1-2 hours. Be sure to not go more than 2 or it can start to break down the texture of the chicken.

2. Start your grill however you prefer. We love charcoal for this recipe but a gas grill works great also. You want a low to medium heat to cook the chicken slowly without burning.

3. When your grill is ready, drain off the pickle juice and pat dry.

4. Toss the chicken in a TB of oil to keep it from sticking and spread your chicken out on the grill. Cook until the juices run clear and the internal temp is at least 165°, flipping often to prevent scorching.

Easy Barbecue Chicken with Organic Portland BBQ Sauce

5. When your chicken has reached the desired temp, baste with a thin layer of sauce and allow to set while the chicken continues to cook. Flip and repeat applying several coats of bbq sauce until you have a shiny glaze with bits of caramelization.

6. Remove to a plate and allow to rest for a few minutes. This helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat.

Serve with a side of Mac salad and some watermelon just in time for your Memorial Day or 4th of July celebration.

Happy Grilling!

Recipe Credit: Molly Boudreaux

Easy Caramelized Barbecue Chicken Thighs with Portland Organic BBQ Sauce