Sunday, July 27, 2014

Easy BBQ Chicken

It seems like everyone has their own way to make BBQ chicken - but I've had a LOT of people ask me about the best way to do it.  I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that we make and sell our own sauces and rubs but this is actually a question I've been getting for far longer than we've been doing that.

From what most people tell me, the most common problem seems to be that they burn the outside of their chicken while the inside is still not done. And there aren't many things less appetizing than biting into what looks like a delicious piece of chicken and then finding that it's still pink (or red!) in the middle.

I'm going to tell you how to avoid that - or at least how I avoid it. I remember both my grandfather and my mother doing this as far back as I CAN remember. Of course, they didn't use our rub, since we just developed that particular product. What we used instead of rub was a mixture of sugar and chili powder sprinkled on the chicken (if you want to try this, it IS good - simply not as good as the rub) mixed until it resembled the traditional cinnamon/sugar mixture most people are familiar with.

The other nice part about this is that you can still have "grilled" chicken without the grill if it's too hot, rainy, snowy, or cold outside or if you simply don't have a grill. Instead of cooking for the last few minutes on your grill, just use a preheated cast iron grill pan. You'll get the same grill marks and for the most part, the same flavor (some people debate whether or not the open fire on a grill actually adds any flavor - I tend to think it does but wouldn't argue with those that feel the opposite).

One more point - if you've never brined a chicken (or pork) before, once you start you'll get hooked! Obviously, you don't HAVE to brine the chicken to make this recipe - but it DOES make it taste better and helps prevent dried out chicken. This is a very simple brine, but there are MANY different brines you can use - just do an internet search and you'll see what I mean.  The brine in this recipe is great for either chicken or pork and has the added benefit of being very simple. I've made them with citrus, with rosemary, even with curry but I always end up coming back to this one for the robust flavor and simplicity.

So, without further ado, here it is:


  • 1 whole fryer chicken, cut up (alternatively, feel free to use "pre-cut" chicken parts if you prefer)
  • Mac Brothers Pork and Poultry Rub (Regular or Spicy, depending upon preferences)*
  • Brine (recipe below)
  • Mac Brothers BBQ Sauce (any variety - or any other sauce you prefer)

*NOTE: Any rub you like will work; alternatively, you can use 1 cup sugar and 1 tbsp chili powder mixed together (you'll have some leftover).  I don't list the amount of rub here simply because you're going to sprinkle the rub liberally on the chicken and it's going to depend on the size and number of the pieces of chicken you're using.

Chicken in the brine solution
  • 6 cups water
  • 6 cups apple cider
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
**NOTE: This recipe makes enough brine that you could actually do two chickens or the equivalent parts


  1. Mix together the brine ingredients, being certain that the salt and brown sugar have dissolved (I typically use half hot water and dissolve the salt and sugar in that, then add the other half as ice water)
  2. Add the cut up chicken to the brine
  3. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight
  4. Preheat oven to 350
  5. Remove the pieces from the brine and pat dry, then place in a large pan
    Rub on one side of the chicken - one piece
    not touched so you can see the difference.
    Remember to flip it and cover both sides!
  6. Sprinkle rub liberally over the surface of the chicken (see picture for an idea of how it should look); make certain you cover all surfaces of the chicken with the rub
  7. Be certain the pan is large enough that the pieces of chicken aren't too crowded - if they are, it will greatly extend the cooking time)
    Chicken with rub on both sides, ready to go in the oven
  8. Cover and bake until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches a minimum of 150 degrees (that's not quite a safe temperature to eat yet, but it will continue to cook for a few minutes after removing and you will be finishing it off on the grill)
    Straight out of the oven and ready for the grill
  9. Remove from the oven - at this point, you can set it to the side until you're ready to put it on the grill
    On the grill, ready to add sauce
  10. Place all of the chicken on a preheated grill.  I heat mine to about 400 degrees
  11. Using a grill brush, spread BBQ sauce on the top of the chicken
  12. Close grill and cook for about five minutes
    After flipping once on the grill and adding sauce
  13. Turn chicken over and again spread sauce on top of the chicken
  14. Close grill and cook for about five minutes
    This has been on the grill for about ten minutes and is ready to be removed
  15. Remove from grill - I typically put a bit more sauce on the last side that was cooked right after removing from the grill (keep in mind, the USDA minimum safe temperature for chicken is 165 degrees)
  16. Enjoy!

The nice thing about employing this method is that your chicken is going to be some of the moistest, juiciest BBQ chicken you've ever had! Some people like to parboil their chicken, but that makes the meat have a rubbery texture and loses the flavor - parBAKING with a rub is the best way!

Let me know what you think in the comments if you try this!!

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