Grilled BBQ Chicken with Naturally Sweetened Sauce – Real Food Whole Life Print
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Grilled BBQ Chicken with Naturally Sweetened Sauce

  • Yield: 8 1x


A summer classic with a real food spin, Grilled BBQ Chicken with Naturally Sweetened Sauce is simple to make and a total crowd-pleaser.



1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, minced or finely grated

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

 ¼ plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 15-oz can tomato sauce

4 tablespoons molasses

4 tablespoon honey

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

5 lbs bone-in chicken pieces such as legs and thighs


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion powder, paprika, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the tomato sauce, molasses, honey, apple cider vinegar, and ½ teaspoon salt, stirring to combine. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and allow to cool completely.
  3. Pour half of the sauce into a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish. Add the chicken, stirring or shaking to coat. Marinate, covered, in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Reserve the other half of the sauce for serving.
  4. When ready to cook, heat a grill to medium. Shake the extra sauce off the chicken and discard the remaining marinade.
  5. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down, and cook for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Keep a careful eye on the chicken, as it can burn evenly.  Brush with the barbecue sauce as needed.
  6. Serve warm, with extra barbecue sauce on the side.


The recipe feeds a crowd. Feel free to cut the sauce and amount of chicken in half to feed four. Alternatively, make all the sauce and freeze half for the next time.

If you’re feeding a resistant eater, simply leave some of the chicken plain, sprinkled with a little kosher salt. Grill alongside the other chicken, then serve the sauce on the side for dipping.