Healthy and Dairy-Free: BBQ Chicken Thighs for the Perfect Summer Feast

Summer is the perfect time to fire up the grill and indulge in delicious outdoor meals. Among the countless options, BBQ chicken thighs stand out as a versatile and mouthwatering choice. Not only are they a crowd-pleaser, but they also offer a healthy alternative to heavier dishes. In this culinary journey, we will explore why BBQ chicken thighs are the best option for a healthy summer dinner recipe, dairy-free and packed with flavor.

BBQ Chicken Thighs best for healthy summer dinner recipes dairy free

Why BBQ Chicken Thighs are Best for Healthy Summer Dinner Recipes (Dairy-Free)

  1. Juicy and Tender: Chicken thighs are known for their moist and succulent texture, making them a satisfying choice for a healthy dinner.
  2. Versatility: BBQ chicken thighs can be marinated in a variety of flavors, allowing you to customize the dish to suit your taste buds and dietary preferences.
  3. Nutritional Value: Chicken thighs provide a good source of protein and essential vitamins, while being lower in fat compared to other cuts like drumsticks or wings.
  4. Dairy-Free Option: By using dairy-free marinades and sauces, BBQ chicken thighs can be enjoyed by those with lactose intolerance or following a dairy-free diet.

Cook Time

The cook time for BBQ chicken thighs will depend on various factors such as the thickness of the thighs, grill temperature, and personal preference for doneness. However, as a general guideline, you can expect the cook time to be around 10-14 minutes in total.

  • Preparing the grill and preheating: 10-15 minutes
  • Grilling the chicken thighs: 5-7 minutes per side

Total estimated cook time: 15-22 minutes


This recipe is designed to serve 4 people. However, you can adjust the quantities based on your needs. If you have more or fewer guests, simply scale up or down the ingredients accordingly. Each person can enjoy one chicken thigh as a serving, or you can serve two thighs per person for heartier appetites.

Feel free to adjust the recipe and quantities based on your preferences and the number of servings you require.

How to Make BBQ Chicken Thighs


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for heat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (if using), salt, and pepper. Mix well to create the marinade.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable plastic bag or a shallow dish.
  3. Pour the marinade over the chicken thighs, making sure they are evenly coated. If using a plastic bag, seal it and gently massage the marinade into the chicken. If using a dish, turn the chicken to coat both sides.
  4. Allow the chicken thighs to marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or refrigerate them for a few hours or overnight for more intense flavors.
  5. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If using a charcoal grill, ensure the coals are evenly lit and have formed a white ash before cooking.
  6. Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, allowing any excess marinade to drip off.
  7. Place the chicken thighs on the preheated grill, skin-side down. Close the grill lid and cook for approximately 5-7 minutes, or until the skin is nicely charred and crispy.
  8. Flip the chicken thighs using tongs and grill for another 5-7 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and the juices run clear.
  9. Once cooked, remove the chicken thighs from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes to allow the juices to redistribute.
  10. Serve the BBQ chicken thighs hot, garnished with fresh herbs if desired, and accompanied by a side of grilled vegetables or your favorite summer sides.

Remember, cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the chicken thighs and the heat of your grill, so it’s important to check for doneness using an instant-read thermometer.

Helpful Tips

  1. Use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for extra flavor and juiciness.
  2. Brush the chicken with additional marinade while grilling to enhance the taste.
  3. For a smoky flavor, add wood chips or chunks to the grill while cooking.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I use boneless chicken thighs for this recipe?

Yes, boneless chicken thighs can be used. However, bone-in thighs tend to have more flavor and retain moisture better.

Can I use a gas grill instead of charcoal?

A gas grill works just as well for cooking BBQ chicken thighs. Adjust the temperature accordingly.

Can I substitute apple cider vinegar with another type of vinegar?

Yes, you can substitute apple cider vinegar with white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar, depending on your preference.

How long should I marinate the chicken thighs?

Marinating for at least 30 minutes is recommended, but for more intense flavors, marinate them overnight in the refrigerator.


If you want to prepare BBQ chicken thighs in advance or have leftovers, you can freeze them for later use. Follow these steps to freeze BBQ chicken thighs:

  1. Allow the chicken thighs to cool completely before freezing.
  2. Place the cooked chicken thighs in airtight freezer bags or containers. Ensure they are tightly sealed to prevent freezer burn.
  3. Label the bags or containers with the date and contents.
  4. Place the bags or containers in the freezer, ensuring they are placed in a flat position to maximize space.
  5. Frozen BBQ chicken thighs can be stored for up to 3 months.

When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen BBQ chicken thighs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Once thawed, you can reheat them on the grill or in the oven until heated through.


If you have leftover BBQ chicken thighs that you plan to consume within a few days, store them properly to maintain their quality:

  1. Allow the chicken thighs to cool down before storing.
  2. Place the cooked chicken thighs in an airtight container or wrap them tightly with plastic wrap.
  3. Refrigerate the chicken thighs and use them within 3-4 days.

Nutritional Information

Here is the approximate nutritional information for BBQ chicken thighs (per serving):

  • Calories: 250
  • Protein: 25g
  • Fat: 15g
  • Carbohydrates: 2g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Sodium: 300mg

Please note that these values may vary depending on the specific marinade and cooking method used.

BBQ chicken thighs are an excellent choice for a healthy and flavorful summer dinner. Their versatility, juiciness, and ability to accommodate dairy-free diets make them a crowd-pleasing option. By marinating and grilling the chicken thighs to perfection, you can create a delicious meal that pairs well with grilled vegetables for a complete dining experience.

Whether you’re hosting a backyard barbecue or preparing a weeknight dinner, BBQ chicken thighs are sure to satisfy your cravings and impress your guests with their irresistible taste. Enjoy the smoky goodness and savor the joys of summertime grilling!