Carolina Style BBQ Chicken

One thing I love to do is travel. Be inspired by new sights and sample regional dishes. Even more fun is to try my own take on cooking them when I return home! Here is a recipe inspired by the Carolinas. There are two types of people in this world, those that love the taste of vinegar and those that don’t. If you don’t, this might not be the recipe for you.

Carolina style BBQ chicken recipe


  • Chicken thighs, 4 skin on (better for BBQ)

BBQ Sauce

  • 3 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp chipotle or regular hot sauce


Combine apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and salt in pot on stove over medium, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve. Turn down to low to simmer. Add in rest of ingredients, stirring in the ketchup. Cook at least 20 minutes over low, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and allow to cool. The next step is marinating the chicken and it’s important to avoid the “danger zone” (putting hot BBQ sauce over raw chicken, then placing in fridge can cause issues.) Once the BBQ sauce is cooled off, put chicken in a shallow dish that has a lid. Cover the chicken with approximately 1/3-1/2 of the BBQ sauce. Store the rest in the fridge in an airtight container. Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour to overnight. I like to flip the chicken in the marinade periodically.

After a good, long marinade~ heat up the grill to 400 degrees. Grill the chicken skin side down for 4-5 minutes, then baste with BBQ sauce. Flip the chicken (skin side up) and grill another 4-5 minutes, then baste with BBQ sauce. Flip the chicken again (skin side down.) Decrease heat to 300 and grill 10 minutes, baste and flip. Grill another 10 minutes (skin up), baste and flip. Now remove from direct heat to fully cook. Again, skin side down 8-10 minutes followed by flip and skin side up 8-10 minutes. There’s a pattern here and the goal is even, thorough cooking without burning. Remove from grill to plate. Remember to check for doneness. The vinegar-based BBQ sauce is great because the low sugar content decreases chances of scorching your chicken while it thoroughly cooks and results in a tangy, spicy, flavorful, delicious piece of chicken.

Serve with prepared BBQ sauce and side of choice (ideas: Summer Corn Salad, Broccoli Salad, potato salad from the store or green salad).

Carolina Style BBQ Chicken

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