Guava BBQ Chicken Thighs | I love to grill! Let me clarify, I love to prep food to give to Obed to grill. He loves to grill and it saves me some time, so it’s a win-win!
We decided to embrace the warm weather and prepare our favorite grilled chicken recipe, guava BBQ chicken! I love this BBQ sauce — it’s sweet, savory, sticky, and takes 15 minutes to prep. And spoiler alert! It’s all thanks to a little ingredient called guava paste.
Where other barbecue sauces incorporate liquid smoke, apple cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and/or soy sauce, the concentrated guava with this combination of spices makes for such a great flavor.
What is guava paste?
Guava paste is a thick mixture of pureed guava and sugar, like a guava jelly but thicker. The fruit itself is sweet, it almost make me think of a caramelized mango. Where you might keep ketchup or ranch dressing on hand, my kitchen is always stocked with guava paste.
It’s magical in desserts, savory dishes, and as you will find, makes the tastiest BBQ sauce. If you’re not in the mood for chicken, this sauce is great with grilled shrimp or pulled pork.
How to make Guava BBQ Chicken Thighs
Like any bone-in chicken, it’s important to ensure the outside is crispy and the inside is tender but cooked all the way through. But this process is simple, and once you’ve made your own BBQ sauce, the store-bought kind will never do it for you again!
The cooking time will ultimately depend on your grill set-up, the size of your chicken pieces, and how cold your chicken is to start with. If you are grilling smaller pieces of chicken on a charcoal grill, they may be done much more quickly. But following these easy steps should result in perfect chicken.
If grilling isn’t your thing, you can make this guava chicken in the oven and it turns out just as wonderful.
How to make guava BBQ sauce
The first step in this guava chicken recipe is to make the sauce. Over medium heat, sauté your onions and garlic in a sturdy small saucepan until they’re soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the guava paste, lime juice, and water to the party, stirring occasionally until reduced and the guava paste begins to dissolve.
When the liquid is uniform, add the cocoa powder, ketchup, cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper, constantly stirring for about 5-8 mins so it doesn’t over boil. Taste it (carefully!) and season the sauce with salt and pepper to your liking.
It will turn a nice, thick barbecue sauce consistency as those flavors meld together and thicken a little more as it cools. That’s when you know it’s time to take it off the heat and pour into a bowl for later.
How to grill chicken on the grill
Then it’s time for the star of the show. Make sure your chicken is trimmed of excess fat. In a large bowl, toss your chicken with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt, and pepper until the chicken is well coated. Set that aside while you prepare your grill.
For this recipe, you’ll want high, direct heat on the grill. If you can control the temperature with charcoal or wood, add less to one side so there’s a cooler area. For gas grills, heat one side to low and the other to high. The goal is ultimately to maintain a low enough grill temperature on one side so that the chicken cooks “low and slow.”
Once it’s preheated, start with the chicken skin-side down over the direct heat for about 5-10 minutes to get a nice sear on the skin. Then transfer chicken to the cooler side of the grill, keeping it skin side down, and close the grill so it can continue cooking undisturbed.
After 20-30 minutes, turn the chicken thighs so the skin side is UP and baste them with the guava BBQ sauce. Then close the grill and let it cook longer, about another 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken thighs. After that, you’ll turn the chicken over once more, basting with your sauce, covering, and cooking another 10-30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Cooking times can fluctuate greatly depending on the size of the chicken thighs, the size of the grill, and if grilling on gas versus charcoal. Use you best judgement and I strongly encourage you to use a thermometer.
To achieve optimal crispiness, do a final sear for about a minute or two on the hot side of the grill with the skin DOWN, basting with more barbecue sauce as you go. So finger-lickin’ good!
Do you put BBQ sauce on chicken before grilling?
You may notice that the instructions didn’t call for basting the chicken until it had seared and cooked a considerable length of time. The best point to sauce a grilled (BBQ) chicken is after it’s cooked, or more precisely, when it’s nearly cooked.
Go ahead and season it liberally and rub it with oil beforehand, but wait until it’s no more than a few minutes away from being done before you sauce it. This also avoids cross-contamination of the sauce.
Every season is grilling season!
There are so many things you can make on the grill. For starters, you can grill up the makings of a delicious salad like this grilled peach & bacon pasta salad, grilled sweet potatoes, or my pollo asada and charred vegetable kale salad.
And there are so many ways to liven up your chicken dinner rotation on the grill, like harissa whole grilled chicken or the best grilled chicken ever. But start with these guava BBQ chicken thighs. This BBQ sauce recipe might become your new favorite sticky comfort food!
more barbecue love
- slow cooker barbecue chicken tacos
- blueberry whiskey barbecue sauce
- bbq rubbed pork chops with peaches
- hot & spicy bbq ribs
more chicken love
- sticky gochujang chicken wings
- oven roasted chicken
- roasted spatchcocked chicken dinner
- entire chicken recipe collection
- 6 chicken thighs
- 10 oz of guava paste (about half of a 21 oz tin)
- 1 Tbs cocoa powder
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup small diced onion
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt & pepper to taste
- cilantro, to garnish
- Trim fat off of chicken thighs. Place chicken in a large bowl, drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil over the chicken. Season with 2 teaspoons of kosher salt & 1 teaspoon of black pepper toss until combined and set aside.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a sturdy pot and saute the garlic and onion until tender. Add guava paste, lime juice, and water. Stir constantly over medium-high heat, until guava paste begins to dissolves.
- Add the remaining ingredients, cook until smooth and saucy about 5-8 mins, constantly stirring. Be careful to not let the sauce over boil. Pour sauce into a bowl and set aside.
- Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. If you are using charcoal or wood, make sure there is a cool side to the grill where there are fewer coals. If you are using a gas grill keep once side on low heat.
- Place the chicken on the grill skin-side down over direct heat. Sear the skin and grill for 5 - 10 minutes, being careful to not burn. Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill, still skin side down. Close the grill and cook undisturbed for 20 - 30 minutes.
- Turn the chicken thighs, skin side up, and baste them with your guava bbq sauce. Close the grill and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Turning the chicken pieces over, basting them with sauce, covering, and cooking for another 10-30 minutes. (SEE NOTE)
- The chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F or the juices should run clear when pierced.
- Do a final sear, skin side down, on the hot side of grill for a minute or two. Baste with more barbecue sauce and let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
The timing will depend on your grill set-up, the size of your chicken pieces, and how cold your chicken pieces are to start with! If you are grilling smaller pieces of chicken on a charcoal grill, they may be done much earlier. The goal is to maintain a low enough grill temp so that the chicken cooks "low and slow".
Store any remaining bbq sauce in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one month.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 353Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 355mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 4gSugar: 7gProtein: 32g