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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