Grilled BBQ chicken burgers need a great sauce and this easy homemade BBQ sauce totally knocks it out of the park! It’s a quick sauce to make on the stove top (less than 10 minutes!) and will keep for a week or so in the fridge. And mixed into your burger meat, it’s not only insanely delicious, but it prevents these chicken burgers from drying out on the grill. Win-Win!

Grilled BBQ Chicken Burgers Recipe with Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

If you’re familiar with New England vernacular, you’ve heard the term “wicked good” being thrown around a bit.  Meaning insanely good, it’s a term I’ve been resistant to, being from “Lawng” Island, and all. 

And for years after I started attending college in Connecticut way back in the 90s, I couldn’t help but cringe when it emerged in conversation.

But despite my dislike for all things “wicked good,” I couldn’t come up with a better way to describe these BBQ chicken burgers. I mean, these are seriously good burgers!

With an ingredient list that includes homemade bbq sauce, cilantro, and scallions, my pal Josie completely outdid herself when she created this recipe. And if it were possible, Josie totally upped the ante of these chicken burgers when she added some barbecued pulled pork to the ground chicken mixture. 

Oh yeah baby!! Pulled pork inside a grilled chicken burger!!

grilled bbq chicken burgers with easy homemade bbq sauce

Josie is from the South, after all, and I suppose she’s got some vintage cookbook about 101 ways to work with pulled pork floating around her kitchen just like I’m sure she’s got one with 101 ways to wield peaches.

Anyway, the pulled pork will add a touch of smokiness to the burgers and add a little moisture too!

No More Dry Chicken Burgers!

I realize that ground chicken has a reputation for being dry when cooked but even with the addition of cornmeal to the chicken, these burgers retain plenty of their moisture while on the grill. If you’re worried, you can add a little extra bbq sauce; they will be almost too wet to put on the grill so be sure you oil the grates well and have faith that they’ll be great!

The barbecue sauce in the recipe plus the added sauce and moisture from the pulled pork will definitely prevent them from becoming hockey pucks.

I foolishly didn’t think far enough in advance to take the pulled pork out of the freezer before I started making these burgers for dinner. And I can only imagine how insanely delicious they would have been with barbecue pulled pork! Droooollll. 

2019 Update: We’ve made these grilled BBQ chicken burgers countless times in the 8 years since I first shared this recipe and they continue to be a mainstay in our summer grilling rotation. We now top our favorite potato burger buns with all that delicious bbq sauce and the grilled chicken burgers. And on the side? We serve these burgers either with some broccoli slaw or bacon ranch potato salad.

Grilled BBQ Chicken Burgers with Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Grilled BBQ Chicken Burgers with Easy Homemade BBQ Sauce

Yield: 4 burgers
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Grilling Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Grilled BBQ chicken burgers need a great sauce and this easy homemade BBQ sauce totally knocks it out of the park! It's a quick sauce to make on the stove top (less than 10 minutes!) and will keep for a week or so in the fridge. You'll add some of this sauce to the chicken burger meat and it not only adds a ton of flavor, but it also helps to keep the burgers from drying out on the grill.


For the bbq sauce*:

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp very finely chopped or grated onion
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • Hot sauce, to taste

For the burgers:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ½ cup crumbled cornbread or ¼ cup cornmeal
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup chopped pulled pork (optional)
  • 5 tbsp bbq sauce, divided

For serving:


  1. To make the sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Cook the sauce about 7 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. The sauce should be reduced down to approximately 1 cup. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to use. The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about 1 week.
  2. To make the burgers: Heat the grill to medium-high.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cornbread, scallion, cilantro, paprika, garlic, mustard, salt, cayenne, brown sugar, pork, and 2 tablespoons of the bbq sauce. Lightly but thoroughly mix with your hands to incorporate all the ingredients. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of bbq sauce to a small bowl.
  4. Form the mixture into 4 equal-sized patties. Brush the grates of the grill with olive oil. Place the burgers and onions on the grill, and cook the burgers 5-6 minutes, then flip. Turn the onions as well. Brush the cooked sides of the burgers with half the reserved bbq sauce. After 3-4 minutes, flip the burgers again. glazing the other side with the remaining bbq sauce. Place a slice of cheese on each patty, and lay the buns, cut side down, on the grill. Close the lid and allow the cheese to melt and the buns to toast.
  5. Remove all the food from the grill, assembling the burgers as desired. Serve with additional bbq sauce if desired.


Store-bought BBQ sauce will work for these burgers too if you don't have the time or desire to make your own.

burgers adapted from Pink Parsley | bbq sauce adapted from Cook’s Illustrated via Annie’s Eats

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Leave a Comment

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:47 AM

    Looks awesome! Love anything BBQ!

  • June 8, 2011 at 8:15 AM

    haha, sadly I do not have either a BBQ or peaches cookbook. Though speaking of peaches, I did make roasted peach lemonade like we drank at BHF. Glad you liked the burgers – try them with the pork next time; it really does take them to the next level!

  • June 8, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    “wicked”/ “mad”-good looking!

  • June 8, 2011 at 10:25 AM

    Wow! What a burger.

  • June 8, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    all homemade deliciously done looks wonderful

  • June 8, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Bookmarked! Looks so yummy!

  • June 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    These burgers do look wicked good! I’m in CT right now and don’t hear that phrase too often, but when I’m visiting boston it’s the major adjective I hear!

  • June 8, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    That burger sounds amazing! Love the bbq sauce!
    The photo is making me drool a bit. 🙂

  • June 8, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    These sound absolutely fantastic! A must try this summer for sure. I had to come over and tell you how delicious they look after seeing them on foodbuzz (buzzed btw). 🙂

  • June 8, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    That is one pretty burger!

  • June 8, 2011 at 6:50 PM

    These look terrific! Don’t think I’ve ever actually made burgers out of ground chicken, but it sounds great, especially with that BBQ sauce – YUM!! 🙂

  • June 9, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    These burgers look delish! I love having an alternative to beef and love your flavor combinations! I did barbecued chicken kabobs on my blog today, I guess we are thinking along the same lines! Thanks, Chris

  • June 9, 2011 at 9:19 PM

    These sound amazing! My husband is a hardcore beef eater but this just may convert him!

  • Erin Clark
    June 9, 2011 at 11:17 PM

    I don’t eat red meat or pork because of the fact that it makes me ill. Can I leave out the pulled pork or will it kill it?

    • smellslikehome
      June 10, 2011 at 7:40 AM

      Erin: As I mentioned in my write-up, I didn’t add the pulled pork to the burgers when I made them so yes, you can definitely leave it out.

  • June 10, 2011 at 11:37 AM

    Yum! The sign of a good meal ahead is when I know I need to be armed with wet naps. Fabulous job.

  • June 10, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    These look so good. What a terrific summer meal!

  • June 10, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    That is the thing, the smokiness you mentioned! It is amazing how much it brings into the taste of chicken, it is completely different without it. My father loves to make BBQ-ed chicken and that is how I learned to appreciate the taste.

  • June 15, 2011 at 8:35 PM

    Your blog is simply beautiful! I love making burgers out of other meat than beef and will definitely have to give these a try. Perfect for a warm summer day!

    • smellslikehome
      June 15, 2011 at 9:38 PM

      Thank you so much, Candy! I’m in the meat-other-than-beef for burgers camp too so I’m sure you’ll love them. Have your wet-naps ready! 🙂

  • June 18, 2011 at 9:21 AM

    That burger is looking so good!

  • Wendy
    July 8, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Made these, LOVED these. I didn’t have pulled pork, but I threw in some (raw) ground pork with the chicken to keep them moist. We even froze some patties for later – and those were fantastic too! The BBQ sauce is KILLER – i’ve made it multiple times since the chicken burgers. It’s fantastic on plain grilled chicken, etc. I’ve tweaked it just a tiny bit – just spices, etc – but it is my “go to” homemade sauce – and SO SIMPLE! Thanks so much for both recipes!!!!

  • July 21, 2011 at 10:59 AM

    Finally made these and I love them! They were so easy and quick to make, and delicious to boot!

  • amy
    May 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM

    These were sooooo good! I didn’t use the pulled pork and didn’t miss it at all! the BBQ sauce is delicious. There is so much flavor and moisture in the burger. It poured rain when we were about to use the grill so did the stovetop instead and toasted buns in the oven. So so good, thank you for the recipe!

    • May 31, 2012 at 9:20 AM

      Amy: So glad you liked them! These burgers are definitely one of our favorite meals and I’ve yet to use the pork in them. I’ve also broiled them when the grill was out of commission and they’re awesome that way too!

  • tanya1234
    August 13, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    thankxxxxxxxxx alot

  • Christie
    September 22, 2012 at 7:12 PM

    These are amazing! My very picky bf requested that we have them once a week! Thanks so much!

  • Stephanie @Stephaniesazkitchen
    April 2, 2015 at 8:03 PM

    Great pictures. Pinned on interest. Bring on bbq season

    • April 12, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      My thoughts exactly – it can’t get here soon enough! Thank you!

  • emily
    September 11, 2015 at 3:45 PM

    Can these be frozen?

    • September 14, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      Yep – they freeze great! I like to freeze them individually wrapped in plastic wrap so I can quickly pull out a couple at a time.