Quick brined barbecued chicken thighs: Brining chicken helps to tenderize the meat and unlike many brining recipes, this quick method doesn’t require more than 6 hours.

quick brined barbecued chicken thighs

A couple of years ago, after brining my first turkey for Thanksgiving, I vowed to brine all of the chickens we roasted going forward. 

But let’s be real here: that never happened. 

I rarely have enough forethought 12-24 hours in advance of roasting a chicken to put a brine together!

So when I came across a quick brine for chicken thighs one weekend recently, I was all over it.

Brine Ingredients

The ingredient list for a brine is incredibly short and you probably have what you need to make a brine in your kitchen already. Here’s what you’ll need (keep scrolling down to the recipe card for the ingredient amounts and instructions):

  • water
  • granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt

How Long to Brine Chicken Thighs

A 6 hour brine was perfect for me! I could toss the chicken in the brine at noon, have the entire afternoon to work in the yard while fighting off the ever-present bees (I’m a magnet) and reapplying the sunscreen (yes, I burn in my backyard in May).

Then, I could run inside to shower and have the grill fired up by 6:00. That’s my kind of dinner!

So yes, brining chicken pieces is that easy! 

Barbecue Sauce for Chicken

Of course the bbq sauce I made for this chicken was just plain stellar, but it really played a supporting role here. Your favorite barbecue sauce would be perfect too!

The brined chicken, much like a brined turkey, was tender and moist. And for dark meat, the thighs cooked relatively quickly on the grill.

What to Serve with Barbecued Brined Thighs

We served these quick brined barbecued chicken thighs alongside some revolutionary bacon ranch potato salad. Potato salad with barbecued chicken is almost a requirement in the summer!

I know our garden Beefsteaks will perfectly round out this meal later on in the summer too. Just pray that we can defeat the tomato blight this year!

Grilled corn, anyone? My recipe has a phenomenal bbq compound butter that melts right into the corn as it grills. 

Other outstanding side dishes for this barbecued chicken recipe are my skillet cornbread with honey butter, our favorite Panera mac and cheese copycat recipe, and these twice baked potatoes with bacon and caramelized onions.

I love that chicken is such a versatile protein for a great meal!!

Quick brined barbecued chicken thighs with barbecue sauce. The brined chicken thighs are grilled and set on a square white plate. There is a jar of barbecue sauce in the background of the photo.

Quick Brined Barbecued Chicken Thighs

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 55 minutes

Brining chicken helps to tenderize the meat and unlike many brining recipes, this quick method doesn't require more than 6 hours.This recipe includes an insanely delicious homemade bbq sauce too!


For the brine:

  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the bbq sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1 ½ tsp hot sauce
  • ½ tsp liquid smoke
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the brine: In a medium saucepan, bring the water, sugar, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 12 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the brine cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour the brine over the chicken in a large bowl or sturdy gallon-size zipper bag; seal the bowl or bag and chill for 6 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Whisk the first six ingredients for the sauce in a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill until ready to use. You’ll have about half leftover after cooking the chicken so divide it into separate containers before you cook the chicken – I can assure you that the unused sauce will not go to waste.
  3. Preheat all burners of a gas grill on high with the lid down for10 minutes, then adjust heat to medium-high.
  4. After 6 hours and while the grill is heating, remove the chicken from the bowl/bag and pat it dry with paper towels. Do not season it with salt before grilling. Sear the chicken on both sides then turn off 2 burners (if your grill has 3) or 1 burner (if your grill has 2) and move the chicken over the off burners and let it cook over indirect heat for 12 minutes, flipping once about halfway through the cooking time.
  5. After 12 minutes, slather one side of the chicken with the bbq sauce, flip it over, slather the other side and let it cook for 2 minutes. Flip the chicken one more time and let the other side cook for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes, loosely tented with foil, before serving hot.


Give yourself about 30 minutes to make the brine and to allow it to cool before adding the chicken to it. This timing is included in the "Cook Time" section above.

brine adapted from Gourmet, June 2003 | bbq sauce adapted from America’s Test Kitchen via Pink Parsley

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Leave a Comment

  • June 14, 2012 at 5:13 AM

    Looks amazing!

  • June 14, 2012 at 5:42 AM

    I’m a slave to the brine too! (but confess too often not having the time). I think pork chops scream for a brine, too.

  • June 22, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    You inspired me to make these delicious BBQ chicken thighs and I’ve reposted the recipe with link back. I enjoy your wonderful blog with its great recipes and beautiful photos. Keep ’em coming! From a former fellow New Englander… http://www.fransfavs.com/2012/06/quick-brined-barbecued-chicken-thighs/#more-3715

  • Peter Moores
    May 29, 2022 at 6:09 PM

    Why do you need to simmer the brining solution? Are you looking to condense the brine or does the flavor intensify?

    • Tara
      July 6, 2022 at 10:53 AM

      Hi Peter, Simmering the brine helps to ensure the salt is completely dissolved in the water. Hope this helps!