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posted January 23, 2024

Cowboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This Cowboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich is juicy chicken, crispy bacon, crunchy onion rings, and tangy BBQ sauce, all on a toasted bun. With melted cheddar cheese and spicy, pickled jalapeños, this monster eclipses inferior sandwiches.

Chicken sandwich on wooden cutting board. Text reads "Cowboy Style Chicken Sandwich".

Cowboy Style Chicken Sandwich

To make the ultimate grilled chicken sandwich, you have to start with great chicken. Then, build with layers of crunchiness, acidity, spiciness, and just a little sweetness to push it over the top. This sandwich has all of those elements and then some. I start with grilled chicken breasts seasoned with my Signature Sweet Rub, and then basted in my Everything BBQ Sauce while still on the grill for a coveted caramelization.

Next, I add some medium cheddar slices, bringing a perfectly creamy and melty element to every bite. The crunch comes from simple but amazing buttermilk battered onion rings. Grilled maple peppered bacon brings a little sweet to the sandwich and pickled jalapenos bring some tangy heat. To finish, I throw it all on a toasted bun, and then drizzle it with even more BBQ sauce. What more could you want?

Sweet rub sprinkling on fresh chicken breast on cutting board.

The Best Chicken for Sandwiches

When making grilled chicken sandwiches, I’ve found boneless, skinless chicken breasts are the perfect cut. They’re meaty, grill quickly, and also highlight the flavors of whatever you add. I like fresh chicken breasts from my local butcher shop or grocery store. Here are some tips on picking the right chicken:

  • Good color. You want your chicken to have a slightly pink color all around.
  • Solid condition. Avoid chicken breasts with either ripping or bruising. You can also get a good idea looking at them if any additional trimming is required.
  • A little bounce. Give your chicken a little squeeze in the packaging. It should regain its shape within a few seconds, like a memory foam mattress. Except juicy and delicious, of course.

Fresh chicken breasts will cost a little more per pound than the frozen variety, but you can use these tips to ensure you’ve got the freshest, most delicious chicken to use for your sandwiches. Oh, and you don’t have to do any thawing.

Grilled chicken breasts on grill being basted with brush.

Toppings for Cowboy Chicken Sandwiches

Now that you know how to pick perfect chicken breasts, let’s talk about all the ingredients you’ll be piling high on them for a sandwich that packs a punch of flavor.

  • Hey Grill Hey Sweet BBQ Rub. Make your own with my recipe or purchase in the store here.
  • Hey Grill Hey Everything BBQ Sauce. Available in the Hey Grill Hey store.
  • Cheddar cheese. A slice of this brings a mellowness to balance all the big flavors.
  • Pickled jalapeños. Make some of my Quick Pickled Jalapeños, or grab a jar at the store.
  • Maple peppered bacon. Who doesn’t love thick slices of sweet, savory bacon?
  • Onion rings. Ditch the frozen stuff. I’ve got a killer onion ring recipe in the recipe card below.
  • Butter lettuce. The unsung hero of any chicken sandwich is a beautiful leaf of lettuce.

Cheese slice melting on chicken breast on grates.

What to Serve with a Chicken Sandwich

This chicken sandwich has just about everything you could ever want in a sandwich, so finding sides to pair it with can be a bit tricky. I’m here to help you with some great ideas for light sides to complement this larger-than-life sandwich for a perfect BBQ meal. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes for any main dish:

Bacon strips on grill grates.

How to Make a Cowboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This chicken sandwich is a meal worthy of any summer party. Grab your friends, some cold beverages, and enjoy some epic sandwiches. Here’s what you’ll need to do to make this sandwich:

  1. Preheat grill. Preheat your grill to 450 degrees F for 2-zone grilling. Although I cook this sandwich on my Weber Performer Deluxe Charcoal Grill, you can cook this on any grill you have available.
  2. Season and grill the chicken. Season chicken with my Signature Sweet Rub, and then place on the indirect heat side of your grill. Cook for 5-10 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. Be sure to use a reliable food thermometer like my Thermapen ONE.
  3. Make the onion rings. While the chicken is cooking. Make the onion rings by battering the onions and frying them in oil.
  4. Grill the maple bacon. Move the chicken to the direct heat side of the grill and then place the bacon on the indirect heat side. Baste bacon with maple syrup and grill until nice and crispy.
  5. Move chicken to direct heat and sauce. Once your chicken reaches 145 degrees F, move to direct heat, baste with BBQ sauce, and finish grilling until the temp reaches 160 degrees F, flipping every 2-3 minutes.. Add cheese to your chicken, and remove from heat when it reaches its final temperature of 165 degrees F. Toast your buns for 1-2 minutes.
  6. Assemble sandwiches. Begin with the bottom bun, then add lettuce, grilled chicken, some pickled jalapeños, maple peppered bacon, buttermilk onion rings, and the top bun. I like to spread some mayo on my top bun as well as an extra drizzle of BBQ sauce for a little extra zing.

Cowboy style grilled chicken sandwich on wooden cutting board.

More Chicken Recipes on the Grill

If tender, juicy, grilled chicken is your go-to for weeknight meals, then check out these other delicious grilled chicken recipes from Hey Grill Hey. They’re quick, easy, and full of chicken flavor:

Grilled Chicken Sandwich Recipe

Cowboy up with this epic sandwich recipe, then be sure to check out the Hey Grill Hey app. I’ve got over 500 more tasty recipes just like this one to help you become a backyard BBQ hero and feed the people you love.

Don’t forget to follow all the Hey Grill Hey social channels on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. We’ve got new recipes all the time, as well as helpful how-to videos, handy tips and tricks, and all kinds of behind-the-scenes fun you can’t get anywhere else.

Cowboy style grilled chicken sandwich on wooden cutting board.

Cowyboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich

This Cowboy Style Grilled Chicken Sandwich is juicy chicken, crispy bacon, crunchy onion rings, tangy BBQ sauce, and more, on a toasted bun.
Prep Time : 15 mins
Cook Time : 30 mins
Total Time : 45 mins
Servings : 6 people
Calories : 623kcal

Video

Ingredients
 

Maple Peppered Bacon

  • 12 slices peppered bacon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup

Buttermilk Breaded Onion Rings

  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 whole sweet onions (cut into 1/2 inch rings)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

Instructions

  • Preheat the grill. Preheat your grill to 450 degrees F for 2-zone cooking, (one side with direct flame heat and the other side with no flames).
  • Prep and grill the chicken. Season your chicken breasts on all sides with Hey Grill Hey Sweet BBQ Rub. Place on the indirect side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 5-10 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reads 145 degrees F.
    6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 3 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Sweet BBQ Rub
  • Baste the chicken and grill over direct heat. Baste the chicken breasts on all sides with 1 cup of Everything Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce) and move them over to the direct heat side of your grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F. 
    2 cups Hey Grill Hey Everything BBQ Sauce
  • Grill the bacon. When you move your chicken to the direct heat, arrange your bacon slices on the indirect heat side of the grill. Baste the bacon with maple syrup and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside until ready to assemble your sandwiches.
    12 slices peppered bacon, ¼ cup maple syrup
  • Add cheese and finish cooking the chicken. Add a slice of cheese to the top of each chicken breast and cook for 2-3 more minutes until chicken reaches 165 degrees F internal temperature. 
    6 slices medium cheddar
  • Toast the buns. Toast your sandwich buns for 1-2 minutes over direct heat and set on your serving platter to assemble your sandwiches.
    6 sandwich buns
  • Assemble the grilled chicken sandwiches. Place a leaf of lettuce and then your grilled chicken breast on the bottom bun. Top each chicken breast with 2 slices of the maple peppered bacon, 2-3 onion rings, a few pickled jalapenos, and a healthy drizzle of additional BBQ sauce. Serve hot and enjoy.
    ¼ cup pickled jalapenos, 4 leaves butter lettuce

Buttermilk Onion Rings

  • Heat the oil. Preheat 6 cups vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat.
    6 cups vegetable oil
  • Batter the onions. Place the flour, seasoned salt, and paprika into a gallon zip top bag and toss to combine. Pour the buttermilk into a second zip top bag. Working in batches, place the sliced onions in the flour bag and toss to coat thoroughly. Move the floured onion rings into the buttermilk and toss to cover. Use tongs to move the onion rings back to the flour bag and toss until each onion ring is coated with onions.
    2 cups flour, 2 cups buttermilk, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 whole sweet onions
  • Fry the onion rings. Fry the onion rings in batches for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove them from the fryer onto a paper towel so they can drain and sprinkle lightly with salt. Set aside until ready to assemble your sandwiches.

Nutrition

Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 76g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 101mg | Sodium: 731mg | Potassium: 705mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 761IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 295mg | Iron: 5mg
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**This post was originally published in May 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips, but the recipe remains the same.

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