Grilled Chicken with Southwestern-Inspired Barbecue Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Southwestern-inspired barbecue sauce is perfectly paired with Albariño wine.

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Apologies for being absent around here. I've been battling a late spring cold (thanks, hubby) and had a minor procedure done in the last couple of weeks. I've been busy in the kitchen, playing around with flavor combinations thanks to my new favorite cookbook (is it a cookbook if there aren't any recipes?) so I have lots of summer-friendly recipes heading your direction.

Today I'm sharing yet another barbecue chicken recipe, which will be perfect for any summer afternoon backyard barbecue with loved ones. Unlike my previous barbecue chicken recipe, this one is free of bourbon but it does have a dash of Angostura bitters in it, which I personally love cooking with! If you aren't familiar with Angostura bitters, it's a botanically infused alcohol mixture with gentian, herbs, and spices. I don't recommend drinking it by itself, but when you mix it in with other delicious things, it only makes things taste better.

Anyway, onto the recipe.

Lately, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with brining chicken prior to cooking. Much like brining a turkey for Thanksgiving, brining a chicken really does produce juicy and tender meat, which doesn’t always seem to happen with barbecue chicken, particularly white meat. If you have never tried brining chicken before, try it just this once—trust me, it is so worth the effort and you'll start doing it frequently.

Grilled Chicken with Southwestern-inspired barbecue sauce is perfectly paired with Albariño wine.

Simply throw your chicken into the brining solution overnight (I prefer to cut the chicken in half), rinse the chicken and discard the brining solution prior to putting the bird on the grill.

The star in this chicken recipe is the southwest inspired barbecue sauce. It’s tasty on ribs and pork chops, but I really prefer it with chicken. Do you have a barbecue sauce that you always use on one kind of meat? This one is really becoming my one trick pony for chicken even though it was never my intention—it just seems to compliment an array of side dishes. Speaking of side dishes, what's your go-to side dish for barbecued chicken? Leave a link in the comments!

For this Southwest-inspired chicken, I selected a Spanish varietal of wine: Albariño. One of my go-to white wines for spicy dishes, Albariño can usually be found in two styles: fruity & smooth or light & crisp. Either styles will taste wonderful with this dish and you won't have a fire in your mouth with spicy flavors. 

Grilled Chicken with Southwestern-inspired barbecue sauce is perfectly paired with Albariño wine.

Niner Albariño from Edna Valley in California has some fantastic acidity to pair with spicy flavors, it has a nice crisp finish (so it doesn't linger!) and smells like honeysuckle and mango. $23

Scheid Vineyards Albariño is a bit fruitier, with less acidity and a longer finish of apricots, peaches, and lime. $22

Basic Brine

  • 8 cups water, 4 cups boiling, 4 cups ice cold

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

Smoky Barbecue Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup

  • 1 tablespoon spicy yellow mustard

  • 1 tablespoon honey

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 3 teaspoons firmly packed brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

  • 3 dashes bitters

  • kosher salt

  • 3 tablespoons freshly ground pepper

  • 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped and seeds discarded

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Cut the chicken in half and place it into a large resealable plastic bag and set aside.

  2. To make the brine, heat the water until just boiling. Combine the water, salt, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a bowl and stir until the salt has fully dissolved. Pour the water into the bag with the chicken, adding more water if needed in order to completely submerge the chicken in the brining solution. Refrigerate at least six hours or overnight.

  3. Prepare a grill for grilling. Place the chicken on the grill over direct heat and sear, turning once or twice every couple of minutes. Move the chicken to the side for indirect grilling, cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce (it can also be made ahead and stored for a week in an airtight container). In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the ketchup, mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, bitters, broth, cumin, adobo chiles and salt and pepper. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes for a thick sauce.

  5. After grilling the chicken for about 30 minutes, begin brushing the chicken with the sauce, turning and brushing every few minutes, for about 15 minutes. The chicken is done when the juices run clear when you stab the chicken.

  6. Serve and eat immediately. Serves 4 adults or 2 adults and 4 starving children.

Grilled Chicken with Southwestern-inspired barbecue sauce is perfectly paired with Albariño wine.