Top 10 Barbecue Sauces for Chicken

Chicken is amazingly versatile because it can take on so many flavors. Whether you grill it hot (but not too hot) or smoke it low and slow, chicken is a great and inexpensive way to have a barbecue. Because chicken doesn't have a lot of flavor on its own, you will need a great sauce to finish it off. These 10 barbecue chicken sauces come in a wide variety of flavors, so there is something here for everyone.

Remember, sauces that contain sugars will burn at temperatures above 265 F/103 C so either keep the temperature low or apply them only at the end of the cooking time.

  • 01 of 10

    Better Barbecue Chicken Sauce

    Simple BBQ Chicken Sauce

    The Spruce

    Go for the classic flavor of barbecued chicken with this simple, rich, and sweet better barbecue chicken sauce. It's the secret to perfectly grilled chicken. Make sure you have a lot of napkins on hand. 

  • 02 of 10

    Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

    Alabama white sauce

    The Spruce

    This Alabama white barbecue sauce is the barbecue sauce that made Big Bob Gibson's restaurant one of the top destinations on the barbecue trail. It's a mayonnaise-based (yes, mayonnaise) barbecue sauce that is perfect for chicken and if you ever manage to make it down to Decatur, Alabama, you have to stop in and give it a try in its native habitat.

  • 03 of 10

    North Carolina Barbecue Chicken Sauce

    North Carolina BBQ Chicken Sauce

    kae71463 / Flickr / CC By 2.0

    A great way to make barbecue chicken is to smoke the bird low and slow and shred the meat. This makes a wonderful alternative to pulled pork that is quick and easy. This sauce, inspired by the barbecue sauces of the mountain country of the Carolinas, is the perfect sauce for pulled chicken. This North Carolina barbecue chicken sauce has the tangy tartness of vinegar with a touch of sweet and heat.

  • 04 of 10

    Cornell Barbecue Chicken Sauce

    Cornell barbecue chicken sauce

    Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    This Cornell barbecue chicken sauce is the famous barbecue sauce for chicken created at Cornell University's Farm Home Extension in the 1950s. It was designed to get people to eat more chicken. Try it and see if it works. This is a classic of the '50s patio barbecue.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Bourbon Barbecue Chicken Sauce

    Bourbon barbecue chicken

    Alexandra Grablewski / Getty Images

    For some reason, the flavor of bourbon works perfectly with chicken. This rich and deep bourbon barbecue chicken sauce has a bourbon base but is piled high with flavor, from ancho chili to dijon mustard. This is a sophisticated and amazingly good sauce for chicken. 

  • 06 of 10

    Apricot-Chili Glaze for Chicken

    Apricot-chili glaze chicken sauce

    Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    Sweet flavors work well with chicken, and this apricot-chili glaze for chicken starts out with apricot preserves to create that sweetness.

  • 07 of 10

    Smoky Chicken Sauce

    Smokey Chicken Sauce

    Felipex / Getty Images

    Want to add a rich depth of flavor to your grilled or smoked chicken? This smoky chicken sauce brings that along with a hint of smokiness that will have you dreaming of summer cookouts any time of the year. This sauce balances tangy red-wine vinegar with brown sugar in a ketchup base and is the perfect sauce for basting chicken right on the grill. 

  • 08 of 10

    Caribbean Chicken Sauce

    Caribbean chicken sauce

    Jodi Pudge / Getty Images

    Sweetness with heat is what gives this sauce a distinctly Caribbean flavor that makes an almost jerk-style chicken. It has buckets of flavor with just enough spicy heat to make it really interesting. This Caribbean chicken sauce is a perfect sauce for any cut of chicken from breasts to wings. You will want to keep a bottle of this one in the refrigerator at all times. 

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Apple Barbecue Sauce

    Apple BBQ Sauce

    Lauri Patterson / Getty Images

    Applesauce doesn't sound like the starting ingredient of a great barbecue sauce, but here it is. Apple is a perfect accompaniment for chicken and this apple barbecue sauce brings the savory and the sweet to any kind of chicken you are grilling or smoking (or baking). 

  • 10 of 10

    Sweet Bourbon Sauce

    Sweet bourbon sauce

    Grandriver / Getty Images

    This sweet Bourbon sauce is the perfect barbecue sauce for sticky, sweet chicken. The combination of bourbon for kick and maple syrup for sweetness makes this a fantastically rich sauce.