The secret to many of the best grilled chicken recipes is not a spice rub, a brine or a side salad. The key to a great grilled chicken recipe is the sauce. No matter what your preferred regional barbecue style, be it a sweet, spicy vinegar-based or another favorite, you know the importance of the good stuff. But one of the biggest rookie grilling mistakes is getting a little antsy with the sauce and adding it too soon.
By covering your chicken with barbecue sauce from the first moment it hits the grill, you are setting yourself up for burnt disappointment. Even the best barbecue sauce recipe is filled with sugar, which burns quickly. The end result will be a charred exterior (lacking the rich flavors of said sauce) and an interior that may or may not be cooked to temperature.
So, when should you add the sauce? Hold off until the last few minutes of cooking.
And if you’re brushing your chicken with a marinade it had previously been sitting in, be sure to boil the marinade before brushing it on to prevent food-borne illness. It would be best to reserve some marinade to soak the raw chicken right from the beginning, and then separate the rest so as to not contaminate it. And while you’re at it, it may be time to revisit some of the biggest mistakes people make when grilling chicken.