Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies

Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies

This easy grilled chicken tailgate recipe is a hot chicken sub on steroids and if you’re looking for a make-ahead tailgate recipe, these Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies are it. Prep at home – grill at the game! 

This post sponsored by Stubb’s Legendary Bar-B-Q!  As always, all opinions are my own.  Thank you for supporting the brands that support Garlic & Zest!

Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies | Garlic & Zest

Whether or not you’re “into” football, the one thing that everyone can get behind is a good tailgate party.  Hell, I’d pay the $20 parking fee  just for the fun of setting up a hibachi, drinking cold libations straight from an ice-laden cooler and grazing on all types of indulgent fan food with a happy group of like-minded friends and strangers.   I think that’s what makes tailgating so special – you come with your own posse and menu, but you also get to mix it up  with people you don’t know.  Sharing in their tailgating traditions and offering up your own, how fun is that?

I’ve found one of the simplest and most satisfying ways to assemble a quality tailgate is with Stubb’s varieties of Sauces, Rubs and Marinades.  Stubb’s gets its bold flavors from real ingredients, with no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners.  It contains no high fructose corn syrup, the No. 1 ingredient in most national BBQ sauce brands, so you know you’re giving your family and friends the good stuff.

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Marinating chicken thighs

Last year, their Green Chile Anytime Sauce flavored these awesome wings.    This time, I used Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce, a balance of sweet and spicy with the hearty, rich flavors of pepper, soy sauce and brown sugar in every bite.  Marinating boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this sauce, inundates them with flavor — and because we’re using thighs, the meat is assured to be juicy and tender in these grilled chicken subs.

overhead shot of marinating chicken thighs.

Scott and I  actually went round on what a “real” tailgate is because I like to have most (if not all) of the work done before I get to the game.  He insists that it’s not a tailgate if you’re not grilling.  We met halfway on this and did the prep work at home, but the final grilling and assembly happened at the game.  And this make-ahead tailgate recipe was pretty minimal — thanks to Stubb’s!

pickling onions and jalapenos
blistered poblano peppers

At home, I marinated the chicken, quick pickled the onions and charred and peeled some poblano peppers.   We packed everything up into coolers and headed to the game.

grilled chicken thighs
sandwich fixings!
Sandwich Fixings for Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies

In the parking lot, surrounded by 50,00 other fans, Scott grilled the chicken thighs, then chopped them up to make a kind of loose meat hoagie.  We piled on the poblanos and pickled onion and several slices of smoked provolone, which got nice and melty next to the hot chicken.  The finishing touch was that Sweet Heat Bar-B-Q Sauce — molasses and brown sugar balance perfectly against chipotle peppers.  Starts out sweet but ends with Texas-style heat.  These hoagies were piled high and loaded with flavor!  Seriously good!

Close up of Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies
overhead of Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies

More amazing sandwiches:

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Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies | Garlic & Zest
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5 from 3 votes

Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies

Make these for your next tailgate, or whenever you’re jonesing for a meaty, savory barbecued chicken sandwich!
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, sandwich, tailgate
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Servings 6


  • 2 pounds chicken thighs boneless skinless
  • 1 cup Stubb’s Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce
  • 1 red onion very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ jalapeno pepper thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 3-4 poblano peppers
  • 6 hoagie rolls
  • Stubb’s Sweet Heat Bar-B-Q Sauce
  • cilantro leaves fresh


  • In a large bowl (or resealable plastic storage bag if you’re tailgating) combine the chicken and the Stubb’s Sweet Black Pepper Anytime Sauce, turning until chicken is well coated. Refrigerate for at least an hour to marinade.
  • In a glass measuring cup, combine the vinegar, water, kosher salt and sugar Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  • Place the onions, garlic and jalapeño in a medium bowl and cover with the brining liquid — pressing the onion into the liquid to cover. Let rest until liquid reaches room temperature, then refrigerate for an hour to quick pickle the veg.
  • Use the grill or a gas stovetop to char the poblano peppers, placing the peppers over the flame until the skin is blackened, turning occasionally about 10 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a small paper bag and seal the end by rolling the bag up tightly. Let the peppers rest for about 10 minutes until they are cool enough to handle, and use your hands to slough off the blackened skins. Remove the seeds from the peppers and slice into thin strips. Transfer to a container to transport and serve.
  • Grill the chicken on a medium high heat (about 450°), turning occasionally until cooked, about 9-10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and use a cleaver or sharp knife to chop the chicken thighs into bite sized chunks. Transfer chicken to a platter to serve.
  • Assemble the sandwiches: piling on the chicken, slices of cheese, strips of poblano pepper and pickled onions and a few fresh sprigs of cilantro. Drizzle with Sweet Heat barbecue sauce and DIG IN!


can be doubled or tripled but you don’t need to increase the amount of pickled onions, this recipe makes about 2 cups of pickled onion. (also delicious on quesadillas, fish dip (on this site) or other sandwiches or tacos)


Calories: 540kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 148mg | Sodium: 994mg | Potassium: 440mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 350IU | Vitamin C: 50.9mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 11.9mg

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This easy grilled chicken tailgate recipe is a hot chicken sub on steroids and if you're looking for a make-ahead tailgate recipe, these Sweet Black Pepper Grilled Chicken Hoagies are it. Prep at home - grill at the game! #chicken #chickenthighs #grilledchickenthighs #tailgatingrecipes #easytailgaterecipes #hoagie #sandwich #submarine #sub #chickensub #chickenhoagie #grilledchickenhoagie #easytailgatingideas

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  1. Looks delicious. Where can I can find those hoagies.

    1. The rolls themselves? I got them in the deli at my local market — the sandwiches — you can make them yourself!

  2. Azlin Bloor says:

    I absolutely love the combination of flavours in this recipe! A big party!

  3. The Purple Ladle says:

    Love the flavours you have going on here Lisa! What a great recipe for a family feast

  4. 5 stars
    Stubbs is one of my favorite store bought sauces but Ive never tried this pepper one! Putting that on my list to fix that ASAP! These look so dang delicious! 🙂

  5. Dahn @savor the Best says:

    This is definitely some amazing tailgating food, it looks incredible

    1. You made me spit out my drink, I’m laughing so hard!

  6. maria @ close to home says:

    5 stars
    I have some of this stubbs sauce in my pantry. I do love their sauces and that they are all natural.

  7. yourcooktoria says:

    Your hoagies look absolutely mouthwatering, Lisa! Pinning for later!

    1. They didn’t last long, Sue! And yes, Stubb’s is the best!

  8. Can’t agree more with your first paragraph! I love tailgating and I hope to make it as sophisticated as this. Good to know about Stubbs, we’ve used it before. Beautiful web redesign, love it!

    1. Thank you so much Yined! The redesign was a LOT of work — and I’m so happy it’s DONE!

  9. M-Squared says:

    WOW. I’m speechless and now VERY hungry!

    I don’t cook, but I definitely want to try this recipe!!!

    1. I’m glad you like it! Incidentally, this isn’t “really” cooking – it’s more assembly — and anyone can do it!