Jul 26, 2022

Grilled Hot Honey Chicken

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
Homemade hot honey is drizzled over whole chicken legs and cooked on the grill.

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Grilled Hot Honey Chicken  

I’ve been putting hot honey on everything! From Southern-style biscuits with butter to pepperoni pizza, it adds such a great flavor. This grilled hot honey chicken recipe combines sweet, spicy and smoky flavors all in one easy recipe. Grilling recipes dominate during summer but don’t worry if you don’t have a grill. I’ve included instructions below for roasting the chicken in the oven. 

fresh chicken for Hot Honey Chicken

Why Wait to Add the Honey? 

The chicken is partially cooked on the grill before brushing the hot honey mixture over the chicken. This ensures the honey does not burn as the chicken cooks, instead it slightly caramelizes and the skin turns golden brown. 

Key Ingredients in This Recipe 

  • Chicken legs – Whole chicken legs consist of both the thigh and the drumstick with both the skin-on and the bone-in. The drumstick portion has more connective tissue so lends itself well to both high-heat quick cook methods like grilling or slower methods like braising or roasting. The thigh has much more meat on it, so it makes the perfect pairing. I love how the skin gets crispy and the honey caramelizes on the chicken as it cooks on the grill. 
  • Honey – When buying honey look for grade A on the package (the highest). Store honey at room temperature to slow the crystallization. If it does crystalize, set the jar in a bowl of warm water. 
  • White wine vinegar – White wine vinegar is made from white wine that has oxidized to form vinegar and is milder than regular white vinegar. 
  • Crushed red pepper – Also called red pepper flakes, in the US they refer to dried and crushed chilies, typically cayenne peppers. 2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes seems like a lot, but the spice needs to be concentrated in the honey, so as it cooks the chicken has just the right amount of spice. 
  • Vegetable oil – I use a neutral oil with a high smoke point to brush the grates so the chicken doesn’t stick. I don’t recommend using olive oil because it has a lower smoke point. 

How to Make Grilled Hot Honey Chicken

hot honey sauce
Step 1: Make the hot honey. 

To make the hot honey sauce, combine the honey, vinegar, red pepper flakes and garlic in a small saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat until the mixture thickens and reduces by about half, about 10 minutes.

straining the hot honey sauce
Step 2: Strain the hot honey. 

Remove from heat, strain the garlic cloves and red pepper through a fine mesh strainer. Set the hot honey mixture aside in a small bowl and let cool.

preparing the chicken for the grill for Hot Honey Chicken
Step 3: Prep grill and grill chicken.

Preheat the grill to about 400ºF (200ºC). Brush the grates with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent the chicken pieces from sticking to the grates. Generously season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken legs on the grill skin side down on the grates and close the lid. Grill covered, for 15 minutes.

brushing the sauce on the chicken
Step 5: Brush chicken with honey. 

Brush the chicken with the honey mixture all over while on the grill. Continue to grill the chicken legs, turning every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, about an additional 15 to 20 minutes. The chicken legs should be evenly browned (it’s ok if the honey caramelizes on the skin) with an internal temperature of 180ºF (82ºC).

serving the Hot Honey Chicken
Step 6: Let stand and serve. 

Remove to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining hot honey glaze and serve.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe 

How to Make this Recipe in the Oven 

Heat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). Coat the chicken legs in the hot honey sauce. Arrange the chicken legs, skin-side up, on a baking sheet and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, about 45 minutes.

Swaps and Substitutions 
  • This recipe can also be made using another cut of chicken like bone in or boneless chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts. If you are making this recipe using chicken breasts or thighs, be sure to account for the change in the cooking time, as it will take less time to cook them. 
  • If needed the white wine vinegar can be swapped with apple cider vinegar or rice wine vinegar. 
  • Rather than using crushed red pepper flakes in the honey glaze, try swapping with 1 small pepper like jalapeño, fresno or serrano, thinly sliced. Strain from the honey before using or leave the peppers in for a more potent hot honey. 
Serving Suggestions 
  • Greens. Serve this hot chicken over a simple green salad made with butter lettuce and a simple vinaigrette (or simply let the juices that accumulate while the chicken rests become the dressing). 
  • Vegetables. Roasted or grilled vegetables like this broccolini makes a delicious and simple summer pairing with these grilled chicken legs.

Other Recipes to Try 

If you like this grilled hot honey chicken, check out these other chicken recipes and follow me on Instagram for more updates: 

Grilled Hot Honey Chicken

hot honey grilled chicken
Print Pin
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed
  • 4 whole skin-on, bone-in chicken legs
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Instructions:

  • To make the hot honey sauce, combine the honey, vinegar, red pepper flakes and garlic in a small saucepan, whisking to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat until the mixture thickens and reduces by about half, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, strain the garlic cloves and red pepper through a fine mesh strainer. Set the hot honey mixture aside in a small bowl and let cool.
  • Preheat the grill to about 400ºF (200ºC). Brush the grates with a bit of vegetable oil to prevent the chicken pieces from sticking to the grates.
  • Generously season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. Arrange the chicken legs on the grill skin side down on the grates and close the lid. Grill covered, for 15 minutes.
  • Brush the chicken with the honey mixture all over while on the grill. Continue to grill the chicken legs, turning every 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, about an additional 15 to 20 minutes. The chicken legs should be evenly browned (it’s ok if the honey caramelizes on the skin) with an internal temperature of 180ºF (82ºC).
  • Remove to a cutting board and let stand for 10 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining hot honey glaze and serve.

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