Tart Cherry BBQ Chicken

If your friends and family weren’t already incredibly impressed with your skills on the grill, you are about to blow them away. This recipe is an impeccable play on sweet and heat. The spicy dry rub, liberally applied to the chicken, contrasts perfectly with the tart, sweet flavours of the barbecue sauce that caramelizes over the chicken legs in the final minutes of grilling.

It’s also an ideal recipe for entertaining, because the dry rub and barbecue sauce can be made in advance and stored for days, you can spend less time prepping and more time socializing. And let’s face it; grilling meals and socializing is the perfect combo. Fast, delicious and easy clean up all while enjoying the great outdoors.


For the Chicken

1.5 kg chicken legs (drumsticks)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon chilli powder

For the Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for basting chicken
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 ounces honey Bourbon whiskey
1½ cups ketchup
⅔ cup brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons ground mustard
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups tart cherries, pitted


  1. With a sharp knife, trim around the chicken legs, removing the tendons, additional fat and skin.
  2. Combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, thyme, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and chilli powder in a large bowl.
  3. Massage combined ingredients into the chicken, liberally coating.
  4. Place the chicken into an air-tight container and marinate in the refrigerator for one hour or up to overnight.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce.Bring the olive oil to a gentle simmer over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add the garlic and onion, sautéing 3-5 minutes or until tender and fragrant. Add the whiskey, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, water, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce back to a simmer and add the cherries. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce thickens. Remove the sauce from the heat, let cool slightly and puree in a food processor until smooth, then reserve.
  6. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes prior to grilling and let it return to room temperature.
  7. Preheat the grill to medium, 150 to 170°C.
  8. Place the chicken on the grill and close the lid, grilling 15-20 minutes, turning chicken once after 10 minutes and basting intermittently with olive oil until the internal temperature reaches 70°C.
  9. Turn grill to high and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes, liberally brushing on the cherry Bourbon BBQ sauce until the internal temperature reaches 75°C.
  10. Remove the chicken from the grill and brush again with sauce.
  11. Place under a tin foil tent for 3-5 minutes, allowing the chicken to reabsorb its juices.
  12. Serve the chicken hot and enjoy.