These simple Maple Chipotle Barbecue Chicken with amazing homemade sauce are summer grilling perfection. The sauce is brushed on at the very end of grilling just to caramelize it a bit, but it doesn’t burn. The sweet, tangy, tender, juicy and smoky results are smokin’ good! 

overhead with the sauce and the grilled chicken on a platter

Why We Love These Healthy Maple Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Thighs

I knew I had a winner with this recipe from the get go. When Stephanie and I shot this video a couple of weeks ago, she asked me to send her the recipe even though it wasn’t on the blog yet because she couldn’t wait and was “craving it.” Yeah, it’s that good. It’s can’t-wait-good. (If that’s not a level of goodness, it should be.)

If you need a go-to recipe for grilling season, then this Barbecue Chicken is your recipe! It has just the right level of sweet plus heat.

The interplay of sweet maple syrup and smoky and spicy chipotle is an all-time favorite pairing. Try our Maple Chipotle Crockpot Pulled Chicken and this Maple Chipotle Flank Steak Tacos. In today’s recipe, we love how the smoky taste the chipotle adds to the barbecue sauce and really plays up the natural smokiness from the barbecue grill.

This chicken recipe is great for entertaining and cookouts because it makes enough for eight pieces of chicken. But it takes less than 40 minutes to make so you can make it for a weeknight meal too.

Key Ingredients

Pure Maple Syrup

The barbecue sauce is sweetened and flavored with maple syrup. We recommend using pure maple syrup for all of your recipes. It is far superior to pancake syrup and is an all-natural and unrefined sweetener. For the best maple taste look for Grade A, Dark Robust syrup.

Chipotle chili powder

The spicy and smoky taste in this sauce comes from ground chipotle chili powder. Look for it in the spice section of large supermarkets or health food stores.

Chicken Thighs

We used skinless chicken thighs with the bone in. Not only does this make the recipe more healthy, but it helps to prevent the chicken from burning. Since most stores don’t sell bone-in thighs without skin, you’ll need to purchase bone-in thighs and then remove the skin by hand.

Steps To Make Barbecue Chicken

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the chicken.

Step 1: Prepare Grill and Chicken

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove the skin from the chicken and sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken.

Whisk maple syrup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, chili powder, chipotle and garlic in a medium bowl.

Step 2: Make Barbecue Sauce

Whisk maple syrup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, chili powder, chipotle and granulated garlic in a medium bowl.

grill chicken

Step 3: Grill Chicken

Soak a paper towel with oil and set near grill with tongs. Just before grilling, hold the oil-soaked towel with tongs. Drag gently along grill grates, pulling toward you. Immediately add chicken to the oiled grill. Grill chicken, turning often, until the meat is cooked through to the bone and no-longer pink inside, 18 to 25 minutes.

Brush the sauce over the chicken and grill 1 to 2 minutes per side

Step 4: Brush Chicken With Sauce

Brush barbecue sauce all over the tops side of the chicken, and turn over and allow the sauce to caramelize and char ever so slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. While it chars, brush barbecue sauce all over the other side of the chicken. Turn over again, to caramelize the second side. Remove from the grill to a serving platter or carving board and allow chicken to rest 4 to 6 minutes before serving.

a platter of barbecue chicken with a fork tearing into one of them showing the inside of the cooked chicken

FAQs and Expert Tips

Can you make this with boneless chicken thighs?

We’ve actually had this Barbecue Chicken with maple chipotle sauce a bunch already since the grill came out for the season, and I even tested it with boneless thighs since I knew the question would come up.

I prefer it with the bone, so that’s what I recommend, but if you use boneless, the cook time will just be shorter about 10 to 14 minutes total.

How To Avoid Flare-Ups On The Grill

When making this recipe, make sure you remove the skin from the chicken. You’ll save 50 calories just like that. So that’s a good reason, but it also causes flare-ups, and the exterior texture of the chicken will be too crusty and charred.

Coat the Chicken at the End of the Cook Time To Prevent Burning

And one last note: the maple chipotle barbecue sauce goes on the chicken at the end of grilling.

I did this after the chicken is cooked through and waited for a few spots to show charring. Just enough to caramelize the sugars in the maple syrup and give it that classic barbecued flavor, without making the chicken burnt and bitter.

What To Serve With This Maple Chipotle Barbecued Chicken

Make sure to check out our collection of Healthy Barbecue Recipes for more ideas!

a blue plate with two chicken thighs on it

8 More Easy Chicken Thighs Recipes You’ll Love:

  1. Crispy Roasted Chicken Thighs is one of my family’s favorite meals of all. It’s a must try.
  2. My Chicken Cacciatore recipe is one of the most popular recipes here on Healthy Seasonal Recipes!
  3. We just had this 5-ingredient Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs recipe this week, and it is so good! 
  4. If you like curry, then you’ll love this Yogurt Curry Chicken Thigh recipe.
  5. This basic recipe for Simple Italian Balsamic Chicken is a great meal prep recipe.
  6. And my one pan recipe for Chicken and Brussels is super easy and tasty. 
  7. These Lemon Artichoke Chicken Thighs from Heidi look so good! I adore artichoke hearts! 
  8. My mouth waters at the idea of this Holy Yum Chicken from Julie. She had me at Maple and Dijon!! 
a table scape with the grilled chicken sauce and ingredients from overhead

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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chicken thighs on a plate with a fork

Maple Chipotle Barbecue Chicken

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 16 minutes
  • Cook Time: 18 minutes
  • Total Time: 34 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Grilled
  • Cuisine: American

Description

These maple chipotle barbecue chicken recipe is summer grilling perfection.


Scale

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup, preferably dark
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, about 2 ¾ pounds* see ingredient note
  • oil for grill

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Whisk maple syrup, tomato paste, cider vinegar, chili powder, chipotle and granulated garlic in a medium bowl.
  3. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the chicken. Soak a paper towel with oil and set near grill with tongs.
  4. Just before grilling, hold the oil soaked towel with tongs. Drag gently along grill grates, pulling toward you. Immediately add chicken to the oiled grill. Grill chicken, turning often, until the meat is cooked through to the bone and no-longer pink inside, 18 to 25 minutes.
  5. Brush barbecue sauce all over the tops side of the chicken, and turn over and allow the sauce to caramelize and char ever so slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. While it chars, brush barbecue sauce all over the other side of the chicken. Turn over again, to caramelize the second side. Remove from the grill to a serving platter or carving board and allow chicken to rest 4 to 6 minutes before serving.

Notes

*Ingredient note: If you prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, the cooking time will be 10 to 14 minutes total.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh
  • Calories: 127
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Sodium: 417 mg
  • Fat: 5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Cholesterol: 43 mg