dinner gluten-free meat paleo

Apricot Barbecue Chicken

June 1, 2020

This Apricot Barbecue Chicken is a tangy and sweet chicken recipe for the grill that you’ll find yourself eating all summer long. It’s made from dried apricots rather than sugar-laden jam!

If you’ve never made your own barbecue sauce, promise me you’ll give it a try soon! Don’t get me wrong, I love store-bought BBQ sauce but there’s something about making a recipe from start to finish. Plus you get to make fun flavor combinations that aren’t available  in store… like this apricot barbecue chicken sauce.

The other day I was complaining to C that I was getting a little tired of my typical BBQ chicken breasts. We both agreed we needed to try something a little different. I had a bunch of dried apricots on hand and picked up some chicken thighs from the grocery store. I remembered that I developed this apricot barbecue sauce recipe 6 years ago so I decided to make it again. Sometimes I go back to old recipes and sometimes I forget about them. In this case I forgot, but I wish I hadn’t!

This apricot barbecue chicken cured all of our boring chicken woes. I promise it will solve yours too!


Apricot BBQ Sauce Ingredients:

  • ketchup
  • apple cider vinegar
  • molasses
  • unsweetened, unsulfured apricots
  • water
  • dried ground mustard
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • sea salt

Apricot Barbecue Chicken // thehealthymaven.com

Marinating 101

In my experience, the longer you marinate, the better. Up to a certain point of course! I try to marinate overnight but if you forget to prep in advance, you can marinate for just an hour.

Place your chicken in the container you’ll be using (you can use a large ziplock bag or a glass storage container) and pour the sauce over the chicken. I like to make sure every piece of protein is covered and has a little sauce massaged in. Then you just place the container in the fridge and let it sit until you’re ready to cook.

I recommend removing the chicken from the fridge 10-20 minutes before grilling. Room temp chicken cooks more evenly.

Storing Marinade

You may not want to use all of the marinade for your chicken or maybe you’re making the marinade in advance before cooking your chicken. If so, this marinade will last a few weeks if kept in an airtight container in the fridge. So if you want to just marinate and grill a little bit of meat at a time, you can!

A general rule of thumb is that once the marinade is on the raw meat, it has been used. Only store fresh barbecue sauce!


Apricot Barbecue Chicken

  • Total Time: 2 hours


  • 1/2 cup ketchup*
  • 1 1/2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp molasses
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured apricots**
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried ground mustard
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 12 chicken thighs (or 6 chicken breasts)***


  1. Place apricots in a bowl and cover with water. Let soak for at least 1 hour.
  2. Drain apricots and place in a blender or food processor and blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. In a medium-sized pot add all ingredients including apricot paste.
  4. Bring ingredients to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly before marinating chicken for at least 1 hour in fridge (I left mine overnight).
  6. Preheat grill to medium-high and lightly oil grates.
  7. Using chicken thighs, mine cooked in about 6 minutes on each side (12 minutes total). Cook longer for larger chicken thighs or breasts.

*I like Nature’s Hollow Sugar-Free Ketchup from Whole Foods.

**I buy these from Trader Joe’s but any kind of dried apricots will work.

***Marinade keeps for a few weeks so no need to marinate a ton of chicken if you don’t want to.

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  • Reply
    July 18, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    Can’t wait to try this recipe, but I have to ask… 1) boneless thighs? 2) skin removed? Just wondering if the estimated calories and 3.5oz of chicken are for skinned and boned chicken? And if so, how many additional calories with the skin on? Thanks!

  • Reply
    June 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Yum, so succulent ! What an amazing combiation of flavours!

  • Reply
    June 3, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Joe P and I are going to have to make these this week. I loveeee chicken thighs and anything with mustard (surprise, surprise)

  • Reply
    Sarah Pie
    June 2, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    HOLY yum this looks amazing! I like to think I’m pretty good with the grill considering my dad was the only who was allowed to use it growing up… then again I did turn our first batch of burgers into charcoal last week so the man may have been on to something.

  • Reply
    Amy @ Elephant Eats
    June 2, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    I’m with you…grilling was always my dad’s domain! Now that we have a real backyard we’re gonna get a grill and unfortunately I think the role will fall to me since my hubby does no cooking of any sort (maybe i can train him?!). This chicken looks like it came out great!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    Haha. That is SO something I would do! This looks amazing btw.

    I grill all the time. By grill I mean, I prepare the food and then tell my husband, father or mother to please put the food on the grill, check it periodically and remove it when it is done.

  • Reply
    Alison @ Daily Moves and Grooves
    June 2, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I can barely get near a grill to flip things, much less turn it on and…stuff. I should learn how to do that so I can make this chicken though.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Can’t wait to try those! Love the sweet/savory combo!

  • Reply
    Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen
    June 2, 2014 at 7:07 am

    This recipe looks AWESOME! I absolutely love apricots, and I especially love fruity flavours in my savoury dishes. I am definitely saving this recipe to make. Although… I’m not a griller either. It’s something I need to learn to master this summer!

  • Reply
    Polly @ Tasty Food Project
    June 2, 2014 at 1:11 am

    This looks so delicious! I bet the apricot added a nice touch to the marinade. I prefer to grill on a charcoal grill since I think it makes the food more flavorful. I’m usually not the one in charge of grilling- thank goodness!!

  • Reply
    June 2, 2014 at 12:32 am

    Yum! Sounds and looks delicious! My hubby does all the grilling but I do most of the marinating. I actually found a brand new jar of molasses in a box I was unpacking the other day and was wondering what I could make with it. Found it!

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    June 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Is it just me or is sweet chicken totally a Jewish thing?? I feel like my mom makes apricot chicken for like every holiday ever. PS I’m obsessed with those TJ’s apricots…they seriously taste like candy! Oh and I’ve never grilled….ever. I’m scared.

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