Cooking sticky barbecue chicken with Chef Steven Leake

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Sticky Barbecue Chicken by Chef Steven Leake

SERVES: 8–10 persons



¼ cup smoked paprika

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. garlic powder

1½ tsp. cayenne pepper


12 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 4 lb.)

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

4 tsp. kosher salt

5 tbsp. Barbecue Seasoning, divided

1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for grill

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tbsp. light brown sugar

¾ cup ketchup

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. unsulfured blackstrap molasses

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. Louisiana hot sauce

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce



Step 1

Whisk paprika, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and cayenne in a small bowl to combine. Makes about ½ cup.

This seasoning can be made 1 month ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Step 2


Combine chicken and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl; toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and 4 tbsp. seasoning and toss again to evenly coat. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours and up to 12 hours.

Step 3

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Cook onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add brown sugar; cook, stirring constantly, until sugar turns a shade darker, about 2 minutes. Add remaining 1 tbsp. seasoning; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ketchup; cook, stirring, until slightly darkened in color, about 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, molasses, mustard, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Set sauce aside.

Step 4

Prepare a grill for medium-high indirect heat (for a charcoal grill, bank coals on 1 side; for a gas grill, leave 1–2 burners off). Lightly oil grate. Grill chicken over direct heat, turning every minute, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Move chicken over to indirect heat, cover, positioning vent over chicken if your grill has one, and grill, turning every 5 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thighs registers 140°–145°, 18–25 minutes. Uncover grill and continue to grill, basting with reserved sauce and turning occasionally, until thermometer registers 165°, about 10 minutes longer.

Remove from grill when done and enjoy!

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