This is my favorite grilled chicken leg quarters recipe. You’re going to get a crispy chicken quarter with a delicious bbq sauce on top.
What I love about chicken quarters is how they are priced so cheaply, you get dark meat with the chicken thigh and drum. I think by far they are one of the most underutilized chicken parts for the grill.
We will go over how to grill this bone-in chicken leg in the best way possible to get incredibly juicy chicken!
How To Grill Chicken Leg Quarters
This recipe works if you are grilling on a charcoal grill or a gas grill. Charcoal is going to give you that smokey flavor rather than the simple grill taste on gas.
1. Trim excess fat and skin
Fat is flavor on chicken but if you have too much fat you’re going to get a lot of flare-ups on the grill and you might get burnt skin.
Go ahead and trim any skin and fat that is hanging over the main part of the chicken thigh and drum.
2. Dry brine with kosher salt
This is a trick to get your chicken skin to tighten up a bit and also get rid of some excess moisture on the surface so that you can get crispier skin.
Simply add a generous amount of salt to the entire part of the chicken quarter. Don’t be afraid of the amount of salt, some will not be pulled into the meat and fall off on the grill.
Put the chicken into the fridge uncovered for at least 4 hours. You can go more or less with mixed results. Longer is typically better.
This is an important step if you want to get amazing grilled chicken leg quarters.
Tip: Doing a brine is also a great way to add flavor and crispiness to chicken wings and chicken breasts. And don’t forget grilled chicken drumsticks!
3. Preheat the grill
Preheat your grill to 450°F. You want to make sure that your grill grates are clean. If the grates have leftover bits from the last time your grilled give them a good scrape once they are nice and hot.
Having preheated grill grates before you add your chicken leg quarters is key to getting crispy skin.
4. Add seasoning and oil
Start by drizzling olive oil over the chicken and rubbing it all over both sides of each quarter. You don’t want to go too heavy on the oil, about a 1/2 teaspoon per quarter should be enough.
I like to keep my seasoning simple so that I can really taste the grilled chicken flavor. Whereas we already salted it when we brined the chicken quarters you don’t need much more than that.
Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with fresh ground black pepper. I like to put about a 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper on each quarter making sure to pepper both sides.
It is just enough to taste it without it becoming too spicy. Pepper it to your personal preference.
5. Grill the chicken quarters
Now that your chicken and grill are both ready go ahead and place your chicken quarters onto the grill. Place the skin side of the chicken down onto the grates first.
After about 7-10 minutes you can flip the grilled chicken legs over to grill the other side. If the skin is sticking to the grates then it isn’t ready to be flipped so allow a few more minutes.
The skin will naturally release from the grates when it is crisp and cooked. Flip them over and allow for them to continue cooking.
If your grill is prone to flare-ups then you want to make sure that you keep a close eye on the chicken.
Create an area with some indirect heat so that you don’t burn the chicken.
Especially because we are cooking with the skin you will have more fat dripping which can cause flare-ups.
You always want to make sure that you cook your chicken to an internal temperature of 165°F. When cooking bone-in chicken leg quarters be mindful that the bone will retain heat.
You can take the chicken off the grill at around 160°F as it will continue to cook while it rests as well. Instant-read thermometers are great when grilling so you know just what temp you are at.
6. Add BBQ sauce
Once your chicken is just about done you want to lather it in with BBQ sauce. Barbeque sauces typically have a lot of brown sugar in them which will burn up quickly.
When you make bbq chicken you want to make sure that you add the sauce at the end so that it will not burn.
Cover the chicken with barbeque sauce and then allow it to cook for a few minutes. This will make the sauce become thicker and stickier on your grilled chicken leg quarters.
Flip them over and coat the other side and cook for a few minutes.
7. Rest and enjoy
Now that your chicken is cooked to 165°F and your bbq sauce is cooked onto it you can take it off the grill and put it onto a plate.
This step is important to allow for the chicken to soak in some of its juices and continue to cook up to temperature if you pulled it off slightly before it got to temperature. You only have to wait about 5 minutes.
Now grab your napkins and get into it. This chicken is going to be so juicy and a little sticky but delicious!
Now if you have leftovers you should learn how to reheat grilled chicken.
Other Preparation options
- You can always create a marinade for the chicken. Grilled chicken that sits in a marinade is a great way to add a lot of flavor to your chicken. Grilling chicken in a marinade can create flare-ups so might need to be a little careful.
- You could do a dry rub on your chicken. This is another great way to add flavor. You would do this before you grill but you can also add barbecue sauce.
- Adding a good acid like lemons and limes you can create an incredible marinade. And make sure that you don’t forget garlic, we all love garlic.
What are chicken leg quarters?
Chicken leg quarters are the thigh and drumstick, also known as the leg, of a chicken. The thigh and leg are also a quarter of a chicken hence the name “chicken leg quarters”.
Both the thigh and the drumstick contain dark meat which can be fatty and juicy. Both being fatty and juicy bring a lot of flavor to the chicken.
How long do grill chicken leg quarters on charcoal?
This all depends on how hot the grill is. If you are grilling over direct heat on your charcoal grill then they can grill really fast.
It is a good idea to get a bit of char on the skin and then move it to an indirect section of the grill so that it can fully cook.
Cooking directly on higher heat will prevent the chicken that is close to the bone from fully cooking. That bone will be holding some of the cold that the chicken had in the refrigerator.
Look to pull the chicken off the grill when it hits 160 degrees.
Grilled Chicken Leg Quarters
- 3 lbs Chicken leg quarters
- 3 tbsp Kosher salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp fresh crack black pepper
- 8 oz BBQ sauce
- Trim the excess fat and skin from the chicken quarters.
- Brine the chicken by generously salting each entire leg quarter. Place in the fridge uncovered for 2-4 hours. The longer the better.
- Preheat grill to 450°F and make sure the grates are clean.
- Take the chicken out of the fridge and drizzle olive oil over the chicken, rubbing it over the whole chicken quarter making sure that all of the chicken is cover. Add fresh ground black pepper.
- Place the skin side down on the preheated grill and close the lid for 7-10 minutes. Check it halfway through to make sure there are no flare ups.
- Flip the chicken and allow it to cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Lather with BBQ sauce on one side and let it cook for 3 minutes and then flip it over and spread the BBQ sauce to that side and let it cook for 3 minutes.Check the temperature to make sure that you have reach 165°F and pull the chicken off the grill
- Allow the chicken leg quarters to rest for 5 minutes and then enjoy!