What happens when chicken thighs are slow-grilled to tender perfection and basted with a Sticky, Sweet, Spicy, Melt-in-your-Mouth Glaze… Well, Sticky Asian Grilled Chicken Thighs is what! Get your napkins ready, folks!
Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are rubbed with a brown sugar, spice-rub that caramelizes the thighs in the most delightful way. Grilled on in-direct heat, they are basted with a simple, ginger and garlic infused Asian glaze the last portion of the cook time. Results? Easy, sticky, Asian-flavored perfection!
Grilling season is here!
Time to slip on some sandals, play in the garden, and sip on a big ‘ol glass of wine while soaking up some quality patio time. While you are hard at work sipping that glass of wine or ice-cold brew, why not let these Sticky Asian Grilled Chicken Thighs do their thing on the grill? If I sound like that’s what I did last night, well, it was quite marvelous!
And did I mention that this Sticky Asian Glaze is a family favorite? Very versatile, I use this sauce on my Sticky Asian Baked Pork Ribs and stir-fry style Sticky Chinese Pork Belly. When the picky 7 year old, red-head will eat it, you know have a winner! Something about the sticky, sweet spiciness is just so good!
These thighs are so easy, mostly hands off, and almost foolproof!
- Rub the chicken thighs with a seasoned brown sugar rub.
- Let the chicken cook on the grill off the flame, undisturbed for 30 minutes.
- Then, baste the thighs 4-5 times the second half of the cooking time.
- Bring LOTS of napkins to enjoy all the layers of melt-in-your-mouth, caramelized stickiness!
How to make Sticky Asian Grilled Chicken Thighs
In a small mixing bowl or large measuring cup, stir together brown sugar with a variety of spices that includes chili powder, garlic, cumin, paprika, and onion.
Pat the rub onto the chicken thighs.
Next, preheat your grill to 350-400 degrees and set it up for in-direct cooking.
On a gas grill, this would include only having one station/side lit and the chicken will cook on the other side of the grill. For kettle and charcoal cooking, the lit coals will be on one side of the kettle and the chicken will rest over the side with-out coals.
I prefer the flavor that charcoal imparts and so the majority of my grilling is on a Weber Kettle. Different types of grills and fuel can produce a wide range of cooking temperatures. One of the benefits of using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs is that they consistently perform well, staying juicy and tender, when grilled.
On a Weber Kettle with a full chimney of prepared coals resting on one side of the bottom of the kettle, place the brown sugar rubbed thighs, skin side up, on the side of the grill that is not directly over the coals. With the vents fully opened, close the lid and leave them undisturbed for 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the Sticky Asian Glaze. In a small sauce pan sauce pan bring soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to thicken and reduce.
After the thighs have cooked undisturbed for 20-30 minutes, begin a series of basting the tops of the thighs. Baste them 4-5 times over the next 20-30 minutes until the layers of glaze have browned, caramelized, and become sticky. The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, HOWEVER, chicken thighs CAN continue to cook past this temperature due to the higher fat content and will still remain incredibly juicy and delicious.
With the described Weber Kettle charcoal method, I cook the thighs for 30 minutes undisturbed, and then baste them for an additional 30 minutes and they come out perfect EVERY time!
Serve with rice if desired.
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Sticky Asian Grilled Chicken Thighs
- 1.75 pounds Chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
- 2 green onions – thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Brown Sugar Spice Rub
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Sticky Asian Glaze
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ginger, fresh grated
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- Preheat the barbecue grill to 350-400 degrees set up for indirect cooking.
- Stir together the Brown Sugar Spice Rub.
- Pat the rub all over the chicken thighs.
- Place the rubbed chicken thighs, skin side up, on the side of the grill AWAY from the heat source and close the barbecue grill lid.
- Cook the chicken undisturbed for 20-30 minutes.
- Bring the Asian Glace ingredients to a simmer in a small sauce pan and cook for 5 minutes until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.
- Baste the tops of the chicken thighs with the Asian Glaze 4-5 times for remaining 20-30 minutes of cook time, keeping the lid closed in between saucing.
- Cook the chicken until the interior is at least 165 degrees and the skin is caramelized and sticky. Additional cook time for the desired level of caramelization is acceptable,
- Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.