Get BBQ Sauce To Stick To Chicken With The Brûlée Method

If you're tired of having sauce slide off of chicken breasts and thighs, creating a smoky mess, then it might be time to rethink how you prepare the protein. While there are factors like properly priming the piece of poultry or choosing the right sauce, there's a better way to ensure that the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce stays put. All you need to do is give glazed chicken a gentle scorch with the brûlée method.

The brûlée method is exactly what it sounds like — a flash of heat is used to caramelize a sugary surface. While this technique is commonly used to finish sugar-sprinkled crème brûlée, it can easily be adapted to crisp up sauce-covered chicken. As intense heat is applied to the protein, surface-level browning and caramelization happen more rapidly. As a result, the chicken's sweetly saucy coating can adhere more quickly. Effectively lacquering itself to the chicken, BBQ sauce can stay put without the frequent brushing and basting that would otherwise be required when following less intensive cooking methods.

Whether it happens at the beginning or end of the cooking process, brûléeing also boasts other benefits. For example, a quick scorch can help render fat, ensuring a crispier coating on the chicken. Likewise, the method can amp up aesthetics. But, most importantly, it can massively boost complexity and deepen flavor.

What to remember when using the brûlée method

Whether you're working with breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or wings, pat the meat dry. This is especially important for skin-on chicken or marinated pieces, as this can help sauce to stay put. Applying a rub can also be useful, much like working with a thicker sauce. However, given that meat will always release juice as it cooks, increasing moisture and triggering BBQ sauce to slip and slide, we recommend sticking with the brûlée method.

Generally, a kitchen torch is the tool of choice. The handheld gadget can produce stellar results as it gives you complete control over caramelization. Just remember to use a sweeping motion to prevent the risk of burning. Otherwise, an oven broiler can prove equally as successful. Pay careful attention to time as broiler-brûléed chicken can morph from crisply golden to heavily blackened in an instant.

As for whether or not more sugar should be added to reap the benefits of brûléeing, that depends on preference. Since BBQ sauce tends to have a high concentration of sugar, adding more isn't necessary. But, dusting on a light layer of the sweet stuff — namely a buttery and toffee-esque muscovado — can help lacquer the chicken, along with making it more delicious. What are you waiting for? Get brûléeing, and taste the drool-worthy results for yourself!