Grilled Barbecued Chicken Legs Recipe | PBS Food

Grilled Barbecued Chicken Legs

A crowd family pleasing recipe. The secret to amazing grilled barbecued chicken legs is in the brine and par-roasting method. Never overcook or burn chicken legs again!


Prep time: 4 Hours

Cook time: 55 Minutes

Total time: 5-6 Hours

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  • Brine Ingredients:
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Ingredients for Grilled Barbecue Chicken Legs:
  • Approximately 8 cups brine
  • 4 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce


  1. To make the brine, bring 2 cups of water, salt, and vinegar to a boil in a medium pot then turn off the heat.  Stir the brine solution until all the salt and sugar has dissolved.  Add the remaining water, and ice cubes to cool down the brine solution.
  2. Once the brine solution is at room temperature, add the chicken legs.  Add more water if necessary so the chicken is completely submerged in brine.
  3. Cover the pot with a lid and refrigerate the chicken for at least 3-4 hours.
  4. One hour before you are ready to serve dinner, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  5. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and rinse the legs with water and pat each one dry with a paper towel.
  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.  Grease the foil with olive oil.  Place the chicken legs in a single layer unto the baking sheet.  Drizzle the chicken with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and massage each piece until each one is coated with oil.
  7. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  8. Bake the chicken for 40 minutes.
  9. 10 minutes before the chicken is ready to come out of the oven, preheat an outdoor grill to high heat.  Prepare the grill by carefully pouring a tablespoons of olive oil onto a folded paper towel.  Using heat proof tongs, grease the grill grate with the paper towel, oil side down.
  10. When the chicken has baked for 40 minutes, baste it completely with barbeque sauce on all sides.
  11. Place the chicken on the hot grill and reduce the heat to medium-low or to an indirect heat spot on the grill.  Close the lid and cook the chicken for 7 minutes on each side until the sauce has caramelized and there are dark grill marks on the chicken.
  12. Total time on the grill should be no longer than 15 minutes.
  13. Serve immediately.
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