Kansas City Smoky BBQ Chicken

It’s summertime… and the livin’ is easy.  This is a down-home feast from one of the most soulful cities in heartland America.  

Slightly sticky, kinda spicy, full of juicy umami flavors and really crunchy from the burned bits, you’re gonna need some potato salad or our roasted Greek oregano potatoes, some corn on the cob and maybe even burnt sage-butter corn bread with this.  Washed down with ice cold beer.  Enjoy!


8 to 12 chicken thighs, free range, air chilled, salted
1 bottle (18 oz.) Kansas City BBQ Sauce or use our sauce below

Kansas City BBQ Sauce Ingredients

12 ounces tomato paste (we use 2 six ounce cans of Contadina)
1/3 cup old fashioned black strap molasses
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 medium onion, finely minced, or 2 tablespoons powdered onion
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or Cajun mustard
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
3 tablespoons hickory liquid smoke, if you don’t have a smoker with hickory wood (we use Colgin or Wright’s)
3 large garlics, crushed or 1 tablespoon powdered garlic
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon black pepper

(Ingredients we add if we are using a purchased bottle of BBQ sauce)

1 tablespoon black strap molasses
2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon Dijon or Cajun mustard
1 medium onion, minced or 2 tablespoons onion powder
3 garlic cloves, crushed or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder

Prep Work…

In a 1 or 2 quart sauce pan, add the BBQ sauce and whisk in all ingredients. Simmer on low heat until aromatic and married. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Spread out the chicken thighs, salt and pepper both sides, especially under the skin.

Wipe all the BBQ grills with oil so that the thighs won’t stick. Heat the BBQ grill with all the burners on high and the lid down until you have achieved maximum heat inside.


Turn all the burners to low and place the thighs onto the hot grills with the bone side down and the skin side up. Sear the bone side well, until it begins to show grill marks, about 6 to 8 minutes, and then flip all the thighs over.

Brush on the BBQ sauce quite thick onto the now seared bone side as you allow the skin side to sear until they also have grill marks, about 6 to 8 minutes. Now flip them over with tongs, gently, so that the BBQ sauce doesn’t fall into the hot burners and flare up. Allow the bone side, with the first basting, to char slightly while you thickly brush on the rest of the BBQ sauce to the skin side.

When the bone side is nicely charred, gently flip the thighs over for the last time and allow the skin side, with the second basting, to char. Once both sides are nicely charred, turn off all the burners and allow the chicken thighs to rest in the BBQ grill for 5 minutes. The juices inside the thighs will re-distribute themselves fully as they finish cooking and begin to cool.

Once the thighs are cooling, remove from the grill and serve with a traditional potato salad, our savory Greek oregano roasted potatoes, corn on the cob or any of the other classic Kansas City sides.

This is a down-home feast from one of the most soulful cities in heartland America.