This mouthwatering Grilled Cherry Bourbon Chicken will become one of your family’s favorites as it’s quick (30 minutes) and easy to make with homemade sauce dripping from each bite.
Last week, we wrote about making the finger licking good Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce and this week we want to show you how to use it to make this chicken on the grill. If you didn’t already read it or made this super simple recipe, jump over there and make it fast before the cherries of the season run out. Just kidding! If it isn’t cherry season, grab some frozen ones and they will work out perfectly.
🍽️ Why This Recipe Works
Thick Sauce: When you brush it on the chicken, it sticks! It stays right where you want it. This is one reason I love this sauce. Just brush on once and be happy or apply twice for an extra level of yumminess! If you brush on more than once, you get a better chance of it being nice and sticky, which we love.
Versatile: We choose to use a skin on, bone in chicken thigh for this recipe. The skin gets incredibly crispy (always allow your grill to heat up to full temperature to maximize that crispiness) and the sauce just works perfectly with it. Alternatively, you can use boneless, skinless thighs or boneless chicken breasts and save some calories!
Make Ahead: Make the sauce a day or two early so you just have to grill the chicken for your cookout. This will make this one go so fast with the added bonus of a delicious homemade bbq sauce.
Cherry Bourbon BBQ Sauce – We make that here and show you how quick and easy it is. Don’t stick to jarred sauces when making your own is a snap.
Chicken – We chose bone in, skin on chicken thighs this time but this recipe works great for a basket of wings or leg quarters.
Step One: Set up the grill for direct heat and bring the temperature to 375 degrees. I use the Big Green Egg with the GrillGrate accessory and love the way it cooks.
Step Two: Lightly oil the chicken before placing it on the grill. This helps to avoid sticking.
Step Three: Cook both sides of the chicken for about eight minutes each and then brush on the Cherry Bourbon BBQ sauce. Flip the chicken over and brush the sauce on the other side.
Step Four: Cook each side for another two minutes to caramelize the sauce and serve.
📌 Expert Tips
Cook these indoors as well if you don’t feel like firing up the grill.
- Cook these in the oven at 400 on a sheet pan covered with foil and sprayed with non stick spray for 20-30 minutes, depending upon the size and type of chicken you choose. During the last 5-10 minutes, glaze the sauce over the chicken and cook the remaining time. You don’t want to apply the sauce too early as it may slide off and end up in a puddle in the pan. Don’t ask how I know that.
- The other idea is to cube up chicken into one inch bites and sauté them in a little bit of olive oil on the stove top at medium high heat. This will just take about four minutes on each side but always double check your chicken to make sure they are fully cooked. Then, apply the sauce to the cooked chicken for the last two minutes and serve. Delish!
If you can’t find cherries (even frozen ones) then replace them with blueberries or raspberries and keep the recipe the same except for substituting the fruit.
I love it when people want to keep making a great recipe and create variations. Add in a splash or two or Worcestershire sauce. Another traditional add in for BBQ sauce would be yellow mustard – add in a teaspoon at first and taste test it. Adding in liquid smoke will make this one smoky, obviously. If you like a little bit of heat, add in a pinch of red chili flakes. Any of these variations will allow you to mix up your sauce so it’s new all over again.
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Grilled Cherry Chicken Recipe
- 4 Chicken Thighs
- Salt and Pepper to taste
Bourbon Cherry BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup Onions diced
- 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 3-4 cloves Garlic
- 1 cup Ketchup
- ½ cup Honey
- ½ cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Bourbon
- 3 cup Cherries sweet, pitted
Prepare the Cherry Bourbon Sauce
- Heat oil in pan and sauté onions and garlic until the onions become translucent. This should take three or four minutes.
- Add honey, brown sugar and ketchup and bring it to a boil
- Add bourbon slowly
- Add cherries, reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes
Blend the Sauce
- Remove from the heat and allow to fully cool. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
- Add the sauce in a blender and mix well. Don't mix when the sauce is hot. Definitely let it cool.
- Add the sauce to jars and store in refrigerator for one week. Alternatively, this sauce freezes extremely well in a freezer safe Ziploc bag.
Grill the Cherry Chicken
- Heat grill to 375 degrees on direct heat
- Mix salt, pepper and a little olive oil on chicken and place on the grill. Grill for 5-7 minutes each side.
- On the second side, start to brush the sauce a little at a time. Allow the sauce to heat a little bit while it is on the grill so it sticks to the chicken and doesn't run off. This allows you to add more and more to get that thick coating.
- Check internal temperature and remove when it reaches 165 degrees
- Add extra sauce after it comes off the grill as desired
Jason’s been firing up the grill for over 30 years after graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy. His love of finely-grilled steak and chicken led him to buy his first Weber grill to put on his apartment patio in 1992. Each military move led to a new grill (a mixture of gas and charcoal) until he fell in love with the Big Green Egg in 2008. Since then, he has added another 4 grills to the collection. Yes, he has a problem. Jason loves smoking in the ceramic BGE with exotic woods including olive wood from Egypt and hard to find varieties such as sassafras and orange wood. Jason takes the term “foodie” to a whole new level, jumping at the chance to take food tours and cooking classes during foreign travels. These have provided inspiration to incorporate new ideas into recipes when he gets back home. He has been featured in Fox News, Parade, Yahoo News, Kansas City Living and more. After retiring from the military and moving to southwest Florida, he has focused grilling and smoking locally sourced meats and fish (read: he likes to catch his own fish!)