The Secret of Barbecuing Chicken Legs on a Gas Grill


It could be that I’m the last one in on this secret.  But just in case there’s someone else out there who doesn’t know, I’m going to share it with you.

I’m a very impatient cook.  You might have caught on about that fact since most of the recipes on this site can be made (hands-on prep) in just a few minutes.

For this reason, I’ve never had luck grilling chicken that has bones.  I do great with boneless chicken breasts.  Pork chops aren’t too hard (not including one fire incident the neighbor kids still talk about).  Smoked sausage or ham slices are no problem.

But chicken with bones is a whole ‘nuther deal.  Memorial Day weekend we had lots of company and I bought a bunch of chicken legs.  I planned to do them in the oven, just because I feared burning them beyond recognition if I put them on the grill.  But my mom talked me into doing it and I’m glad she did.  Those legs were scrumptious – smokey and sticky with bbq sauce.  Mmmmm!

The secret?  Turn the heat down to the lowest temp.  Put the legs on the grill and then turn them every 5-10 minutes.  This helps them cook evenly and slooooowly.   Don’t rush it.  Savor the full experience of tending them, turning them.  Let your mouth water as you get hungrier and hungrier and the delicious smell wafts among the people gathered on the patio.

Is your mouth watering yet?  Are you nearly beyond your limits of waiting?  Is everyone asking “how much longer?”  If so, it’s time to baste with bbq sauce.  Don’t do it earlier or you risk the sugars in sauce burning.  Wait till they’re almost done to smear on the sauce.

All told, this should take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the legs (or other chicken pieces).   Serve with Potato Salad or Hashbrown Casserole or Quick Cole Slaw or Homemade Baked Beans, or watermelon.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll share a different way to eat your watermelon that will give your mouth a flavor kick and is perfect with food cooked on a grill.

What about you?  Are you good with grilling or are you impatient?

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  1. Lyndee B. says:

    My father’s secret was to cook the meat over an open flame to get the color, then remove the meat and cover the grill with a big sheet of tin foil add the chicken back on and close the lid and allow to cook for about 30 minutes, This prevented flair ups and burning. It results in some mighty tasty meat.

    I personally love to grill and in the summer if it can’t be grilled, its generally not on the menu. Give me a ice cold beer and tongs and I am good to go!

  2. I’m not sure if my hubby knows this trick so I’ll be making him sit down later today and read this 🙂 Thanks for the Tip!!

  3. I know this sounds crazy but I actually heard Bobby Flay say that it is OK to microwave your bone-in chicken pieces until they are about halfway done and then finish on the grill. I have made my bone in chicken this way for years and it turns out perfect and very juicy every time. I put several pieces in for about 10 minutes and take them out to the grill to finish, about 15-20 mins. on a low gas grill. BBQ sauce at the end and great every time! =)

  4. We love grilling, especially in the summer because my kitchen is already hot. Of course, when I say “we love grilling”, I mean I love it when my hubby grills — it’s a skill I’ve no desire to learn. And he loves his natural charcoal grill, a little Weber.

    He grilled corn, bbq ribs and bone-in chicken breasts tonight. Well, I did help some. I hunted and gathered, and I did prep the ribs. And by “prep the ribs” I mean that I put them in the crockpot on low about midday — first seasoning with garlic salt, seasoning salt, and pepper, then adding about 1/2 can of Coke. They were falling off the bones good, and the grill just added great crispness and smoky flavor (and the Sweet Baby Ray sauce didn’t hurt!).

    When we grill corn, we just throw it right on the grill in the husks. This keeps it moist, and we put it on before the meat then throw it in the cold oven just to keep it warm until the meat comes off. Once everything else is ready, we shuck it (by we, of course, I mean my hubby), brush with melted butter, and get down to some South in the mouth!

  5. Christine says:

    We parboil bone-in chicken in a pot of water until it’s almost done, then brown on the grill, only 5 minutes per side. Comes out very moist.

  6. Oh, my goodness! I thought I was the only one that had problems cooking chicken on the grill. I just learned another little secret… You don’t have to turn the gas on ALL the way!!! Isn’t that crazy that I didn’t know that already?!? I always burned the food… on hubby’s fancy grill. Now I turn the gas on half-way and actually serve yummy food. Nothing like BBQ food. Love your hints. Have a great week-end.

  7. GetShorty says:

    How do I get to tomorrows tip about eating watermelon?

  8. I find that when I cook chicken I put the chicken on the opposite side of the flame. ( gas bbq) .
    The chicken cooks from the inside out, once cooked then I move the chicken to the flame to get that crispy, delicious looking chicken!

  9. Angelika says:

    When the chicken is grilling on low like this, should the grill lid be closed, or leave it open the whole time?

  10. 1 hour was not enough on a 2 burner Weber. Hour and a half I would recommend.


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