BBQ Chicken with Bite-Through Skin

A steamed butter bath is the secret to these prize-winning chicken thighs that are moist and delicious.


8 servings




  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cups Challenge Butter (1½ sticks)
  • 1 Tablespoon seasoning salt
  • ½ Tablespoon white sugar
  • ½ Tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ Tablespoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 – 1¼ cups barbecue sauce
  • Cherry wood chips (optional)


  • 1
    Trim excess skin and fat from chicken.
  • 2
    Combine salt and brown sugar in cold water in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate two to four hours.
  • 3
    Preheat one grill zone, opposite from side you will be cooking on, to 300-325 degrees.*
  • 4
    Remove chicken from brine and rinse with cold water.
  • 5
    Cut butter in ¼ inch slices and place in foil pan. Place wire rack in pan and chicken on the rack, bone side up. Cover entire chicken with rub and cover tightly with foil.
  • 6
    Place foil covered pan on grill. No wood chips are needed yet. Cook 1 to 1½ hours, checking meat temperature at 1 hour. Once chicken reaches 185 to 195 degrees, remove from grill.
  • 7
    Warm sauce and dip each thigh into the sauce and place on a rack. Serve or for a little smoky flavor, add wood chips or smoke pouch to grill.
  • 8
    Once smoke is generated, place chicken (still on rack) on the grate and smoke for 15 minutes at 300 to 325 degrees. Do not over-smoke.

Recipe By

The Smoking Hills

Loren and Cheryl Hill are world champion pit masters who have competed on the professional BBQ circuit for last eleven years. “The Smoking Hills” earned 3 World Championships in 2015: The American Royal Invitational, World Food Championships BBQ, and World Food Championships Overall.