• Yield: Serves 4

  • Time: 1 hour cooking

We're big fans of chicken thighs because they're very tasty and easy to prepare, and they have just enough fat to stay moist on the grill. This is a deliciously sweet, sticky, old-school treatment most often used with wings, but we like it even better with thighs. These are not only great hot off the grill, but when they're cold, too, making them perfect for picnics.


The Chicken:

  • 8 large, bone-in chicken thighs, about 8 ounces each

The Spice Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander

  • 2 tablespoons paprika

  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

  • 2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

The Barbecue Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)


1. Light a fire well over to one side of your grill, using enough coals to fill a large shoebox. When the fire has died down and the coals are covered with white ash, you're ready to cook.

2. Combine the spice rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.

3. Coat the thighs generously with the spice rub, pressing gently to be sure it adheres, then arrange them, skin side down, on the side of the grill away from the coals, being careful that none of the meat is directly over the coals. Put the lid on the grill with the vents open one-quarter of the way and cook for about 1 hour, adding a handful of fresh charcoal and flipping the thighs over after 30 minutes. To check for doneness, cut into one of the thighs at its thickest point; there should be no redness near the bone.

4. While the chicken is on the grill, combine the ketchup, maple syrup, and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix well. Baste the chicken with the sauce during the last 10 minutes of cooking, and serve the remaining sauce along with the smoked thighs.

Excerpted from Grill It!: Recipes, Techniques, Tools by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby (Dorling Kindersley, 2008). Copyright 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited. Text copyright 2008 Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby. All rights reserved.

John Willoughby served as executive editor at Gourmet, senior editor at Cook's Illustrated and has co-authored eight cookbooks, including James Beard award-winner The Thrill of the Grill. He writes for publications such as The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Metropolitan Home and Saveur.
Christopher Schlesinger is a chef (he was the winner of the 1996 James Beard award for Best Chef of the Northeast), restaurateur, writer, cooking teacher and a founding member of the national organization Chefs 2000. With John Willoughby he co-authored five cookbooks, including the James Beard Cookbook award-winner The Thrill of the Grill. They also have a monthly feature in The New York Times, and have written articles for magazines such as GQ and Food & Wine. He serves as a contributing editor for Saveur magazine.