This Grilled Apple Cider Chicken recipe is the ultimate fall meal! A staple fall chicken recipe made even better on the grill with a spiced apple cider chicken brine, indirect heat grilling, & the best apple cider glaze. This apple cider glazed chicken is incredibly juicy, tender, & flavorful with the perfect crispy-sticky-tangy-sweet finish. Serve with grilled spiced squash & sweet potatoes for the best grilled fall meal!
THIS POST IS SPONSORED BY
The Home Depot, who I’m so excited to partner & share with you this fall! The Home Depot carries an epic selection of top grilling brands, including my personal favorite – Weber. I’ve grilled with the Weber Genesis II for the past 5 years & I’m thrilled to share it with you today! All thoughts & opinions are my own.
Over the years, we’ve developed quite the collection of amazing grilling recipes here on PWWB, but most of the recipes are geared towards spring & summer grilling. Just because summer’s over doesn’t mean we can’t still grill! (…Even here in MN, where we’ve already seen 8+ inches of snow this fall!)
So that’s exactly what we’re up to today – celebrating the fall season with our grills, specifically with this Grilled Apple Cider Chicken & Grilled Spiced Delicata & Sweet Potatoes recipe.
This Apple Cider Glazed Chicken recipe is not only an AMAZING fall chicken recipe, it’s a damn good anytime chicken recipe. Dare I say it…it’s the best grilled chicken I’ve ever had. Period.
This apple cider chicken is incredibly juicy, tender & flavorful. An apple cider brine seasons the chicken from the inside out, & indirect heat grilling yields the most perfectly juicy chicken with a crispy, crusty exterior. & as it finishes grilling, you slather it in a tangy-sweet apple cider glaze that tastes just like fall should.
Serve it up with some grilled fall veggies (spiced delicata squash & sweet potato for me!), & you have the BEST Sunday chicken dinner for the season. & if you’re scaling back your Thanksgiving dinner this year, grilled apple cider chicken is be the perfect festive protein for your menu! I mean…
Plus, we’re grilling it up with The Home Depot!
I am so thrilled to be partnering with The Home Depot again this year, whipping up some fall & winter grilled goodness! The Home Depot carries a selection of top grilling brands including my personal favorite, Weber.
We’re grilling with the Weber Genesis II, which is the grill that I’ve been grilling with for the past 5 years. (Chris & I actually registered for it when we got married!) I couldn’t love it more, honestly. All of Weber’s products are super high-quality, & the Genesis II is no exception.
You can read all about my obsession with the Genesis II here, but in short: it’s incredibly powerful (crucial for cold weather months here in MN!) & heats very evenly, it has a Sear Station perfect for grilling up the crispiest chicken, & it’s designed to create just the right amount of smoke & sizzle, adding amazing smoky flavor to your grilled goodies.
It’s definitely an investment, but Weber offers a 10-year warranty on all parts, & The Home Depot offers free delivery for any grills purchased online! (Gotta love that!) Honestly, after using it for 5+ years, I couldn’t recommend it more.
Grilled chicken can totally be cozy, who woulda guessed?! ♡ Read on to learn more about this Apple Cider Chicken, or jump straight to the recipe & get cookin’!
Grilled Apple Cider Chicken Ingredients – Most of ’em are probably already in your pantry!
Since cider is so flavorful itself, we really lean on just a couple of pantry staples & solid grilling technique to bring this dish together. With a well-stocked pantry & spice rack, you’re already more than halfway there when it comes to making this apple cider glazed chicken recipe!
Note: full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
You will need…
- Chicken – Bone-in, skin-on chicken is key here, but you can use whatever parts you love most. I love a combination of bone-in, skin-on breasts, thighs, & legs, as pictured throughout this post.
- Apple cider – Which makes an appearance in both the apple cider marinade & the apple cider glaze. Be sure to use high-quality spiced apple cider, not hard cider or apple cider vinegar.
- Whole spices – allspice berries, cinnamon sticks, & whole cloves enhance the flavor of the cider, while peppercorns & bay leaves create savory notes in the chicken.
- Kosher salt & brown sugar – Key components of any brining liquid. A generous amount of salt seasons the chicken from the inside out, helping to keep the grilled chicken super juicy & flavorful, while brown sugar adds the littlest bit of caramelly sweetness.
- Pure maple syrup – For delicious rich sweetness in the apple cider glaze.
- Apple cider vinegar & Dijon mustard – Adds tangy acidity that balance out the sweetness in the apple cider glaze.
- & garlic & fresh rosemary – For aromatic flavor.
How to grill Apple Cider Chicken – A 3-part recipe:
Mirroring the technique we developed for our Best-Ever Grilled BBQ Chicken recipe, this apple cider glazed chicken recipe consists of 3 major parts. The chicken is brined in an apple cider marinade, grilled with indirect heat, & finished with a tangy-sweet apple cider glaze. The cumulative effect yields the juiciest, most flavorful grilled chicken you’ll ever make!
Note: full Recipe Directions with step-by-step photos provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Meal prep tips: Like any recipe with a couple of different steps involved, this apple glazed chicken recipe takes a little bit of time to put together. Treat it as a special fall dinner project, or prep some of the components in advance to cut down on active prep time day-of. The Recipe Notes, below, include prep tips to help you out.
First, prep the apple cider chicken brine:
This apple cider chicken recipe begins with a brine. Since chicken is a relatively lean protein, brining it is crucial for 2 reasons – first, it helps season the chicken from the inside out & second, it helps keep the chicken totally juicy & tender once grilled.
Given that this is an apple cider chicken recipe, we’ll use an apple cider chicken brine.
To make the brine, simply simmer apple cider, salt, brown sugar, & some whole spices together for a couple of minutes, just until the salt dissolves. Allow the brine to cool slightly before pouring it over the chicken.
Brine the chicken in the fridge for at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. The longer the brine, the more flavorful & juicy your grilled chicken will be, so I definitely suggest planning ahead here & giving it the full 2 days to soak in the brine.
Next, prep the apple cider glaze:
The perfect time to prep the glaze is while the apple cider chicken marinade cools since you’re already working at the stove & glaze prep is very similar to marinade prep.
To make the apple cider glaze, simply combine apple cider, pure maple syrup, ACV, Dijon, garlic & rosemary & simmer. The mixture will reduce pretty significantly – about 75% – & the glaze will be caramelly & thick.
You can prep the glaze well in advance – it’ll keep for about 1 week stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
And lastly, it’s grilling time!
With your chicken brined & your apple cider glaze prepped & ready to go, all that’s left is grilling it!
The secret to perfectly cooked, juicy & tender apple glazed chicken lies in zone grilling. By creating 2 zones of heat on your grill, you can cook your chicken with really gentle, steady indirect heat before finishing it over strong direct heat. The chicken stays totally juicy throughout the middle, with wonderful crispy skin – the best combination!
If you’ve never grilled with indirect heat before, don’t panic. It’s the simplest thing! Check out this post, which will walk you through zone grilling step by step.
To grill your apple cider chicken…
- Transfer the chicken to the grill: Place the chicken, skin side up, on the indirect heat side of the grill. I like arranging the chicken such that larger pieces are close to the flame as possible & smaller pieces are further away.
- Cook with indirect heat first: Cook the chicken until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 150 degrees F, rotating it 180 degrees every 15 minutes.
- Finish over direct heat, & brush with the apple cider glaze: Move the chicken over direct heat to finish cooking. Brush the chicken with the apple cider glaze, generously coating it. Flip after about 1 minute, glazing the other side of the chicken, and repeat 2-3 times, until your chicken is as charred & saucy as desired.
Grilled Chicken Time & Checking for Doneness:
How long you’ll grill your chicken depends on the temperature of your grill & the size of your chicken pieces. The best way to ensure your chicken is cooked through is to use an instant-read thermometer.
Grill Time Guidelines:
- Bone-In Chicken Breasts: Begin checking for doneness after 35-45 minutes.
- Bone-In Chicken Thighs: Begin checking for doneness after 15-20 minutes.
- Chicken Drumsticks: Begin checking for doneness after 15-20 minutes.
- Chicken Leg Quarters: Begin checking for doneness after 15-20 minutes.
Since we use 2-zone grilling, there are 3 internal temperatures to check for as you grill your apple cider glazed chicken:
- At 150 degrees F, move the chicken from indirect to direct heat & begin glazing.
- At 160 degrees F, pull the chicken from the grill, transfering to a plate or baking sheet, and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Carryover heat will cause the internal temperature to continue to rise to as the chicken rests.
- At 165 degrees F, the chicken will be ready to serve.
Fave Fall Side Dishes to Serve with your Apple Cider Chicken
The best part about making apple cider glazed chicken is undoubtedly digging into a giant plate of perfectly grilled chicken, but every chicken dinner needs a solid side dish or two.
Here are a few side dish ideas to get you started…
- Grilled Delicata Squash & Sweet Potatoes – If you’ve ever wondered whether you can grill squash or sweet potatoes, the answer is YES. Toss them in a spiced rub made with garlic, chili powder & paprika, then grill them to perfection. I think they’re the perfect side to apple cider chicken. The full how-to is included in the Recipe Card, below!
- Keep things comforting – Comfort food meals call for potatoes & roasted veggies! Make a batch of our favorite Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes & roast up Maple Mustard Brussels Sprouts.
- Make a festive salad – Whip up a batch of Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette & toss with your favorite greens & veggies (pro tip: add a pinch of cinnamon to the vinaigrette for extra coziness!). OR, go all-out and make an Autumn Kale Salad with Pancetta Pretzel Croutons, my favorite salad for fall.
- & for more festive side dish inspiration, be sure to check out PWWB’s Sidesgiving series!
I cannot wait for you to try this Apple Cider Glazed Chicken recipe. It is honestly the best grilled chicken I have ever had, & it is perfect for fall grilling.
If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know!: Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations! Happy cooking! ♡Print
This Grilled Apple Cider Chicken recipe is the ultimate fall meal! A spiced apple cider chicken brine, indirect heat grilling, & the best apple cider glaze yields the juiciest, most tender, & flavorful apple cider glazed chicken with the perfect crispy-sticky-tangy-sweet finish. Serve with grilled spiced squash & sweet potatoes for the best grilled fall meal!
- 4–5 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken parts (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 large delicata squash, sliced in half lengthwise, deseeded & sliced into 1/2-inch half moons
- 1 large sweet potato, sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
for the apple cider brine:
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 12–15 whole cloves
for the apple cider glaze:
- 4 cups apple cider
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Make the apple cider brine: Combine all listed cider brine ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, just until the salt & brown sugar have dissolved. Remove from the heat. Transfer to a large glass bowl or large liquid measuring cup & set aside to cool.
- Make the apple cider glaze: Meanwhile, as the brine cools, prep the glaze. Wipe out the saucepan used to make the brine. Combine all listed cider glaze ingredients in the saucepan. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by about 3/4 – you should have roughly 1 cup of very syrupy, thick, dark brown glaze. Remove from the heat. Carefully transfer to a heat-safe airtight container or jar. Once cooled completely, store refrigerated for up to 1 week.
- Brine the chicken: Place the chicken parts in a large bowl or ziptop plastic bag. Carefully pour the apple cider brine (including all the whole spices) over the chicken, pressing down on the chicken parts as needed to ensure they’re submerged in the brine. Cover/seal and transfer to the refrigerator to brine for at least 12 hours or up to 2 days. The longer you’re able to brine, the juicier & more flavorful your cider chicken will be.
- Prep for grilling:
- Chicken prep: About 1 hour before you’d like to begin grilling, remove the chicken from the brine. Use a paper towel to pat the chicken as dry as possible. Set aside on a plate or a small baking sheet to come up to room temperature. Just before grilling, lightly season the surface of all of the chicken parts with kosher salt & ground black pepper.
- Squash prep: Place the sliced squash & sweet potato wedges in a large mixing bowl, topping with the olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, chili powder, & smoked paprika. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper. Toss to coat & set aside.
- Light the grill: Prepare your grill for indirect cooking, creating a zone of direct high heat & a second zone of indirect heat. If using a gas grill, begin preheating at least 15 minutes before grilling. If using charcoal, light the charcoal at least 30 minutes prior to grilling. (To learn more about zone grilling, be sure to check out this post.)
5. Grill the apple cider chicken: Place the chicken on the indirect side of the grill, skin side up, as close to the fire as possible without being over the direct heat. Cook the chicken, rotating the pieces 180 degrees every 15 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 150 degrees F. This could take as little as 15 minutes or up to 45 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken parts & the temperature of your grill. In my testing, bone-in chicken legs & thighs take 20-25 minutes while chicken breasts take closer to 45 minutes.
6. Glaze the chicken, grill the veggies: Turn all of the grill’s burners to medium heat. Move the chicken over direct heat & arrange the squash across the grill.
- Chicken: Use a pastry brush to baste the grilled chicken with the apple cider glaze. Cook for 1 minute per side, glazing the chicken generously along the way. Repeat 2-3 times, until your chicken is as charred & saucy as desired & an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 160 degrees F. Remove from the grill and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes. Carryover heat will cause the internal temperature to continue to rise as it rests. The chicken will be ready to serve once an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken (without hitting the bone) registers a temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Veggies: Grill the veggies about 5 minutes per side, until nicely charred & fork tender. Remove from the grill & set aside to serve.
7. Serve: Serve the cider grilled chicken with the grilled squash & sweet potato & any other side dishes you love. Enjoy!
- Best chicken to use for barbecued cider chicken: Use whatever you love most – seriously. This recipe will work great with chicken breasts, chicken thighs, chicken wings, drumsticks – whatever you love! I love a combination of bone-in, skin-on breasts, thighs, & legs, which is what you see pictured in this post. If possible, I strongly suggest using bone-in chicken parts, as they tend to be more flavorful & juicy than boneless parts.
- 20-Minute Meal Prep: This grilled cider chicken recipe is very easy, but there’s some prep involved. To make things simpler, carve out 20-30 minutes to get things prepped 1-2 days before you’d like to grill your chicken, &…
- Prep the cider brine according to Step 1 of Recipe Directions. (5 minutes active time)
- Prep the cider glaze according to Step 2 of Recipe Directions. (5 minutes active time)
- Optional: Slice the squash & sweet potatoes, & mix up the wet rub for the veggies. Store separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. (10 minutes active time)
- Brine the chicken according to Step 3 of Recipe Directions. (5 minutes active time)
Keywords: apple cider chicken, chicken recipes, grilling recipes, barbecue, grilled, easy, fall, Thanksgiving, cider brine, cider glaze
Recipe & Food Styling by Jess Larson, Plays Well With Butter | Photography by Rachel Cook, Half Acre House.
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Ready to Hit the Grill?
If this all still feels new to you, I encourage you to head over to this Grilling 101 post, where we dive into all the grilling basics – everything from how to light your grill to how to clean your grill.
All this talk about grilling have you feelin’ ready to hit the grill? Me too! Be sure to check out this post for my 13 go-to marinades you need this grilling season. At our house, a good marinade is at the heart of grilling season. I’m positive these marinades will be on repeat at your house this summer! For even more grilled goodness, be sure to check out all of our Grilling & Smoking recipes.
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