Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade

This Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade is fast, easy and delicious! It uses bottled BBQ sauce to start out the marinade, then you add in extra spices & herbs for the best chicken marinade ever! 

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Need a fast and easy Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade that uses ingredients that you have in your cupboard? Look no further, this is the chicken marinade for you! It uses the convenience of bottled BBQ sauce that is then amped up with simple ingredients that you already have at home to make one delicious dinner!  This is for those of you that love barbecue sauce chicken but are looking to spice it up! 

Brushing Barbecue Grilled Chicken with Marinade

Fast & Easy Grilled Chicken Marinade

This was thrown together because I didn’t quite have enough BBQ sauce to cover 4 chicken breasts and the subsequent basting while barbecuing. I emptied my bottle of basic chicken & ribs BBQ sauce and proceeded to make a marinade with the scant amount that I had left. This is actually far nicer than using just a BBQ sauce and to be honest, BBQ sauce has been my least favourite thing to use on meat when grilling it. Until now, that is. By turning some ready-made sauce into a marinade with some other ingredients it’s literally the best of both worlds. You thin out what I consider to be “too much” flavour and thickness with bottled BBQ sauces and instead reap the benefits of the flavour while turning it into something you can marinate your chicken in for the day.

Another tip? Marinate the chicken breast SKIN SIDE DOWN in the marinade like shown in the photo below to really get the flavour into the meat and skin.

Sealing bag with chicken and marinade inside

 Skinless or skin-on chicken breast? Boneless or bone-in chicken breasts?

Brushing the Barbecue Grilled Chicken with Marinade

Ok, while I can never ever get the skin to really stay on and not stick, I always try to use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. The skin is going to give you some much-needed added fat to your chicken while you are grilling it. Once the skin starts to shrink smaller, you then baste the top of the chicken again to keep it moist and seal in the juices.  Why bone-in chicken breast? That layer of gristle and bone helps to keep the chicken juicy, my friends.  Think of it: the skin helps seal it at the top, followed by the sauce and the bones help to seal in the juices from the bottom. I get CRAZY tender, juicy chicken breasts when we use bone-in chicken breasts. When you grill, bone-in is the best. Try it and you’ll see – your love of grilled chicken is going to jump a level!

Barbecue Grilled Chicken Tips & Tricks

  • Please trust me and try the bone-in and skin-on chicken. You are going to consider boneless. skinless chicken breast to be dry shoe leather compared to this.
  • How long can I marinate the chicken? According to the USDA, chicken can be marinated for up to 2 days safely.
  • Can I use skinless, boneless chicken breasts? Yes, you can and it will still be delicious. I know that there are some of you that love skinless and boneless chicken better, so don’t let me stop you!
  • Usually cooking chicken on the top rack of your grill to prevent flare-ups is a good idea, but we have a double grate system, so we turn on the OPPOSITE SIDE of the BBQ for heat. This helps to prevent burning!
cooking chicken breast on the grill

Looking for other chicken recipes? Try these:

  1. Pan Fried Spinach & Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken
  2. Copy Cat Red Robin’s Teriyaki Chicken Burger
  3. Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Happy grilling! If you have any questions or have tried this, let me know in the comments below.



Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade

This Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade is fast, easy and delicious! It uses bottled BBQ sauce to start out the marinade, then you add in extra spices & herbs for the best chicken marinade ever! 
5 from 120 votes
Prep Time
5 minutes
Cook Time
25 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes
Main Course
North American
Karlynn Johnston


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup favourite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegr
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion owder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 chicken breasts ( bone in and skin on)


  • Combine all of the marinade ingredients until smooth and mixed thoroughly.
  • Place the chicken breasts into a large sealing plastic bag. Pour 2/3 of the marinade into the bag, coating the chicken. Place the remaining marinade into a container to save for basting later while cooking.
  • Place in the fridge SKIN SIDE DOWN and let marinate anywhere from 2-24 hours. 
  • When ready to cook, pre-heat your grill to medium-high heat. ( 375-425 °F) , oiling the grill if necessary. 
  • Remove the chicken from the bag, placing on the grill bone side down – skin facing up.
  • Discard the bag and marinade and retrieve the fresh, reserved marinade. Brush on the chicken every 5-8 minutes, basting well. Cook until the chicken reaches 165 °F. Remove and serve. 

Recipe Notes

You can also use skinless chicken breasts, just follow the same instructions. 

Nutrition Information

Calories: 588kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 38g, Fat: 43g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 590mg, Potassium: 463mg, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 475IU, Vitamin C: 0.7mg, Calcium: 29mg, Iron: 1.7mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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This Barbecue Grilled Chicken Marinade is fast, easy and delicious! It uses bottled BBQ sauce to start out the marinade, then you add in extra spices & herbs for the best chicken marinade ever! #chicken #BBQ #marinade #recipe #grilling #barbecue #charcoal #chickenbreast

Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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Reader Interactions

Comments & Recipe Tips Share a tip or comment!

  1. colleen benedict says

    This was AWESOME! I started the marinade 24 hours in advance and used cutlets. Amazing flavor! My son and I LOVED this recipe. Will definitely use this again, and again! (BTW… I used Smoked Paprika!)5 stars

  2. Miguel says

    This was money. The tang and sweet mixed with the char of the skin on the bone in chicken was incredible. In the age of “skinless” and “boneless” I think people are missing out on everything chicken can be. I bought a cheap charcoal grill and went charcoal for the first time in decades. Bone in chicken breasts, which were a staple in my home growing up, are hard to find but my grocery store had a hole chicken with the skin butchered and that was perect.5 stars

  3. C Nicholson says

    We love this marinade. Tonight I used it on boneless, skinless breasts. Added liquid smoke and used smoked paprika. I had Bullseye Guinness Barbeque Sauce as the base. Also cut way back on the amount of oil. Grilled the chicken over indirect heat, no flare ups, no burning. It’s a winner!!5 stars

  4. Mike Cissne says

    Loved it. I made kabobs with this recipe. I used Saz’s BBQ sauce. I boiled little potatoes for 10 minutes first and then made kabobs with the chicken (from little tenderloins), the little potatoes and red peppers. I basted all of it as I cooked it and thought it was incredible. Marinated for about 5 hours.5 stars

  5. Robert says

    Just tried this recipe and might I say “Absolutely Delicious!” I used Bulls Eye BBQ sauce and grilled on a gas grill with mesquite wood chips along the side. My grill got to 400 degrees before I place my chicken on the grill and then I turned off the middle grill. The chicken cam out great and did not burn. I am going to make this recipe part of my regular food offerings to my wife. Thanks again for sharing.

  6. Jessica says

    Just saw this recipe for marinade- looks awesome thank you! (CT, USA)

  7. Beth Lancaster says

    I really like this marinade as it doesn’t use soy sauce and the chicken was very tender! I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts and pounded them to be thinner. This will be my new “go to” marinade 🙂5 stars

  8. Lucy Vallejo says

    This is great! work perfectly for us! Make sure you mince your garlic very well because we made the mistake of not chopping enough but other than that great recipe thanks! Deserved 5 STARS!5 stars

  9. Laura Raymond says

    Excellent! Used this recipe as written (using smoked Paprika and smoked salt) for boneless skinless chicken breast! They turned out perfect.5 stars

  10. Scott Jayson says

    Very nice marinade, Thanks.

    I liked your comment about using bone-in skin-on chicken for extra flavour and juiciness. I would add that you can take it up another level by skipping chicken breasts all together and going for much juicier and more succulent chicken thighs. You’ll never go back to bland white meat on the grill again.

    For those worried that thighs aren’t as healthy, keep it in perspective: thighs have just 11 calories more than breasts per 100 grams, along with double the flavour.

    Cheers!4 stars

  11. Yami says

    So I tried this recipe i was looking forward to it I let it marinade for 24 hrs. I placed the chicken on the grill on low heat went inside to get the rest of sauce ready to apply while it cooked came bk out and the chicken was up in flames charred… on low heat… why?

    • Scott Jayson says

      Hi Yami.

      That’s a common problem. If you are using a gas grill that has 2 burners, pre-heat the whole thing to very hot and then turn one side right off and put the chicken on that side. Keep the opposite side on high. Fat will still be drained from the chicken as it cooks, but it has no fire below it to create flames.

      If you are using charcoal, do the same. Once the coals are ready, bank them up on one side of the grill and cook over the other.


    • Denise Piche says

      Your barbecue plates must have had grease or animal fat on them that caught fire. After every barbecue I always take the Metal plates off and wipe them down. I haven’t had a problem with anything catching fire in my barbecue because I always clean it when I’m done barbecuing. Your barbecue will last a lot longer also.

    • Mike Cissne says

      I know this is an old post but just read yesterday that if marinated well, you can rinse your chicken with water first before grilling. The sugars in the BBQ sauce like to burn and a quick shower reduces the chance.

  12. Paulina kitali says

    Nimejaribu kupika its amazing so delicious every one like it.5 stars

    • Philip Brill says

      I tried to snort the marinade and WOW… Don’t do that! I could feel it in the back of my nose for hours.

  13. Amnesia says

    WOW best tip ever, to create the best BBQ chicken marinade, use your favourite BBQ sauce!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!5 stars

  14. Marion Lawrence says

    Going to send this marinade to my daughter, she will love it.
    will also try myself. great recipe.

    • Philip Brill says

      I tried to snort the marinade and WOW… Don’t do that!

  15. April says

    I used our favorite sauce- what a great way to spice it up (haha get it?). Thanks for the great recipe as usual. This will be our main chicken marinade for the summer!

    • Laura Raymond says

      Excellent! Used this recipe as written (using smoked Paprika and smoked salt) for boneless skinless chicken breast! They turned out perfect.5 stars

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