BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches: Authentic Smoky Flavor From the Grill

What foodie doesn’t dream about more cooking stuff?  I know I’ve been eyeballing a Traeger Smoker for a while now with visions of smoked brisket dancing in my head. So, what am I supposed to do until the smoker fairy drops one in my lap?  Well, for now I’ll grill on cedar planks, which turns out a succulent smoky chicken, perfect for BBQ sandwiches.

Yes, Traegers can occasionally be found at Costco doing a road show, but Costco has cedar planks too, which are far easier to budget. If you have a gas grill, the planks are all you’ll need to make this smoked chicken (see photos below). I made these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches recently for a large gathering and heard from a couple of folks it was the best barbecue they had ever tasted.  Give it a try to see for yourself.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Serves 6-8
8       whole  chicken thigh — bone-in, skin removed
onion powder
granulated garlic
smoked paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper
1        7″x16″  cedar plank — untreated, designed for grilling
1         large  onion — peeled and quartered
1/4       cup  water
1 1/2    cups  ketchup
1 1/2    cups  apple cider
2        tablespoons  palm coconut sugar or brown sugar
3        tablespoons  Worcestershire sauce
4        tablespoons  Dijon mustard
1/3      cup  molasses
1/2      teaspoon  ground black pepper
4        tablespoons  apple cider vinegar
1        tablespoon  liquid smoke flavoring
1        tablespoon  olive oil
4       medium cloves  garlic — minced
1        tablespoon  chili powder
1/4      teaspoon  cayenne pepper or a splash or two of Chipotle Tobasco

Soak cedar plank in water for an hour or so. Remove skin from chicken thighs. Sprinkle both sides of chicken pieces with onion powder, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper.

On a gas grill, place soaked cedar plank directly over medium heat and allow wood to get hot, 3-5 minutes. Place chicken directly on the cedar plank and cook over medium-low heat (this will depend on the grill, so you may have to adjust the temp to be sure the plank stays hot enough).

As the chicken cooks, rotate one or two pieces at a time and cook directly on the grill for a few minutes, then back to the plank. This will help the chicken cook through. During the cooking process, the wood plank will char and smoke which is ideal. If the wood should begin to catch fire, simply spray those parts with a little water.

Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and allow to cool until easy to handle. This is the time to make the sauce.

FOR THE SAUCE: Process onion and water in food processor until pureed. Pass mixture through fine-mesh strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids; this should produce approximately 3/4 cup strained onion juice. Discard solids.

Whisk onion puree, ketchup, apple cider, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard, molasses, pepper, cider vinegar, and liquid smoke together in medium bowl. Heat oil in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add garlic, chili powder, and cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in ketchup mixture; increase heat to medium-high, bring to boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, uncovered, until flavors meld and sauce is slightly thickened, about 15 minutes. This will yield approximately 4 cups of sauce.

Remove chicken from the bone with fingers. Remove any gristle, fat, or connective tissue so that only the meat remains. Pull chicken meat apart so that it is in small strips and pieces.

To serve, toss chicken with desired amount of sauce in a separate large skillet or oven dish–add as little or as much sauce as you prefer. Extra sauce can be stored in the refrigerator. Heat chicken with sauce in the skillet over medium-low heat or in the oven at 350° until incorporated and heated through. Serve on whole wheat buns with coleslaw on top if desired.

BBQ Chicken Sandwich without Coleslaw

Shared on the following Blog Hops:
Hearth & Soul Hop
The Nourishing Gourmet Pennywise Platter Thursday
The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania


14 responses to “BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches: Authentic Smoky Flavor From the Grill

  1. I’m so happy to have found your post. I use cedar planks for salmon and it is wonderful. I have no idea why I never thought of going anything else on the planks. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  2. I like it specially knowing that you used thighs. Yum!

  3. Awesome use of the cedar planks on your gasser! We do the same! Cedar’s great over heat because it doesn’t bow up like some of the hard woods (maple, cherry, etc.).

  4. I just found your site on and I love it! This chicken looks outstanding. Can’t wait to learn more from your posts!

  5. These look fantastic! I have used the planks for fish but not for chicken before. I will need to try. And yes, I literally have recipes come to me in my dreams!

  6. These look wonderful and I love the cedar plank treatment. But a smoker will complete your life! Ha, I’ll send a wish to the smoker fairies on your behalf.

    • Thanks for the wishes 🙂 When my husband read this, he declared himself the smoker fairy–made me laugh, but it is more likely that way! 😉 LOL

  7. Oh wow that looks good! I’ve been on a quest for the perfect slaw but I don’t like mayo- any tips?

  8. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!
    Miz Helen

  9. Pulled chicken sandwich looks delicious. thanks for sharing with hearth and soul blog hop.

  10. I have enjoyed pulled pork for ages, but I was just introduced to the concpt of putting coleslaw on top of pulled pork last week. It was a delicious combination. Your recipe looks wonderful; thanks for sharing it with the Hearth and Soul Hop.

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