Sweet Carolina Style Barbecue Chicken

The weather is beautiful. Perfect for breaking out the trusty grill – although with our mild winter, the grill has been used almost the entire year. Nothing beats meats cooked over a fire. It’s got to be one of our favorite methods of cooking. I especially like grilled foods because Hubby gets involved. I just love it when we cook together.

I came across the original recipe for Carolina Style Barbecue while perusing Mary Yonkin’s blog – Barefeet in the Kitchen. I just love the name she’s given to her blog – it sounds so down to earth and inviting, don’t you think?

Anyway, we gave her recipe a try about a year ago, and have made it several times since – with a few alterations along the way. You know me, I can’t resist tinkering with recipes. Mary’s original recipe called for 6 pieces of chicken – 3 legs and 3 thighs. I’ve doubled that, and in so doing doubled the marinade as well. Her recipe uses a lot more Dijon Mustard (1/3 cup in a single batch of marinade), while I’ve cut that way back. If you are a fan of Dijon, go for it. Hubby thought the Dijon was a bit too strong the first time around, so I’ve played with the amount to find a happy medium before coming up with the current version of the recipe. Mary has you soak the chicken in half the marinade, reserving the other half for basting while cooking. I pour it all on and skip the basting. The other difference is that I let the chicken sit on the counter for about an hour before grilling over a nice bed of coals.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to letting food sit on the counter to “warm” before grilling – one says it makes no difference, and that letting food come to “room temperature” isn’t safe. The other swears that allowing the food to warm allows for a more even cooking, and that letting the food sit out isn’t all that risky. Personally, we have found that taking the chill off the meat does make for easier grilling. I wouldn’t do this with ground meats or sea food – but it’s fine for large cuts of meat such as tri-tip or bone-in meats – be it steak, chicken or even pork. If you aren’t comfortable letting the meat rest on the counter before grilling, skip that part. Whatever works best for you, your grill and cooking style is fine.

This recipe renders a chicken that isn’t too sweet or spicy (despite the use of brown sugar and Sriracha). The Dijon mustard isn’t overwhelming – giving a little kick to the flavors. The chicken is moist and oh so delicious. My guys rave about how great it tastes – and that’s always a good thing.

Sweet Carolina Style Barbecue Chicken
6 Tablespoons Dijon mustard, divided (3 tablespoons per batch)
9 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided (4 1/2 tablespoons per batch)
2/3 cup brown sugar, divided (1/3 cup per batch)
2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce (1 tablespoon per batch)
1 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (3/4 teaspoon per batch)
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 chicken legs
6 chicken bone-in thighs

Season all the chicken well with salt and pepper. Place legs in a gallon size Ziploc bag, thighs in another. Spread chicken out so that the bag lays flat and the chicken is in a single layer.

In a small bowl, whisk together half of remaining ingredients for the marinade. Pour the marinade into one of the bags, turn to coat evenly. Repeat with the remaining marinade ingredients. Pour into second bag. Let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. DO NOT marinade overnight, as the vinegar will react with the chicken if left too long and “burn” the meat.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and place bags flat on the counter for an hour before grilling. While the chicken rest on the counter, build a nice fire in the grill for direct cooking. Make sure the grate is clean and freshly oiled to prevent chicken from sticking.

Once the coals are ready and the chicken has warmed on the counter, place chicken directly over the fire. Raise the grate or lower the coals, however your barbecue is build, so that the chicken isn’t so close to the coals that it burns. Grill 15-20 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.

Carolina BBQ Chicken 2

Sweet Carolina Chicken with a side of Roasted Cajun Red Potatoes and Buttery Corn


To view Mary’s original recipe; follow this link:


5 thoughts on “Sweet Carolina Style Barbecue Chicken

  1. This looks great! We BBQ all year long and most especially in the summer. The only time I don’t like the BBQ is when its super hot outside. Thanks for another great recipe -always appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds really nice. Would it be as good with less sugar? I just don’t typically like things that are too sweet. But it looks fabulous. And I always let meat warm before cooking – especially meats I want medium rare. With chicken, I still warm up in the kitchen, especially if there’s an oil-based marinade, which hardens when in the fridge. I haven’t killed anyone yet!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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