How to make BBQ chicken? The best BBQ chicken involves finding a nice fresh, preferably grain fed chicken, a wood pellet BBQ or charcoal BBQ, and of course really good BBQ rub. I don’t mention gas grills here because gas grills burn clean hydrocarbons, or “gas” and don’t truly do BBQ. But nothing is stopping you from doing it. Just don’t place your bird directly over the flames. I do not use a BBQ sauce in this recipe, because a really good BBQ’d chicken doesn’t really need a sauce. The combination of smoke and spice is already an incredible mouthful. Instead of store bought rubs, or rub spice mixtures you can buy online, I use my own BBQ rub, and of course, I think its the best BBQ rub recipe in the world! This particular BBQ rub is quite similar to a north African Cote D’ivoire rub I have seen, and that recipe was inspired from that one flavour experience. There are obviously some really great rubs on the market, but I choose to use mine. I will break the BBQ’s chicken recipe down into a few simple steps.
Steps for the best bbq chicken in the world
- Using a whole chicken, cut down the back and spread the chicken out so it kind of resembles a butterfly
- score the meat using a sharp knife. Scoring the meat means taking a knife and making small cuts into the skin and maybe a 1/4 inch deep.
- Take the rub from the recipe I mentioned above, or any other type of rub and sprinkle it all over the bird, and the underside
- “Rub the rub” into the bird, meaning spread the spiced rub into the score marks, so that the whole bird has been seasoned
- Add a drop or two of olive oilonto the bird and rub it on!
- Start your pellet smoker or charcoal BBQ. Control the temperature so its not too hot, I’d aim for an indirect heat at no more than 325F
- Put that bird on, breast side up
- Let cook for half hour or so depending on how big the bird is
- Flip her over captain! Cook the chicken with the breast side down
- Remove once you are sure the meat is done. Use a meat thermometer if you are unsure.
Cooking a whole chicken butterflied as opposed to individual pieces is important to me. Firstly, buying a whole chicken is usually a bit cheaper. Also, cooking a whole chicken as opposed to individual pieces keeps the meat more moist.
BBQ Charcoal Setup
If you own a charcoal kettle of some type, to BBQ a chicken you need to light your coal on one side of the BBQ, and put your chicken on the other side. This is referred to as indirect heat. As an example, as show here, I light my coals on one side of the BBQ:
Once the fire has reached the right temperature, I can put the butterflied chicken on the other side. In the photo above, the coals are too hot. Tsk tsk. This Napoleon charcoal kettle heats up really quickly and it got away on me. Below, I place the rubbed and well seasoned chicken on the opposite side of the BBQ from the hot charcoal:
The BBQ world is full of fun and exiting BBQ and smoker types. Hibachi’s, Kamado’s, charcoal kettles and so on. The only thing to remember and is important is the grill height and temperature. If the grill is close to the charcoal, you have to move all the charcoal over to one side and place the chicken away from the charcoal as I have done above. If the grill is high off the charcoal, you can cook directly over the charcoal, as I have done in the image below. With respect to temperature, low and slow is always better than hot and fast. This applies to most things in life The longer something cooks, the more opportunity that food has to absorb smoked BBQ flavour. As a charcoal chef, you have to learn to control the temperature. Never more than 350F. Never less than 250F. With respect to flavours, if you can find a nice piece of apple wood, or any kind of fruit tree wood, put a stick or chunk of wood right on the coals. If its fresh off the tree or “green”, even better. It will smoke nicely and give a great flavour to whatever you are cooking.
How to make BBQ Chicken- A Photographic How-To
Shown below is a freshly rubbed and oiled chicken is cooking slowly over some coals. In this case, I am not cooking over an indirect heat setup. I am using my Kamado smoker which has a grill that is high above the coals. I am directly over the coals, but again the bird is up high so any flare ups won’t turn into all out forest fires. As I have mentioned before, keep the temperature down to roughly 300F. You will get more delicious smoke at this temperature than hotter temperatures.
Cook that bird for a half hour or so on its back. Then flip it over, again in this case I’m directly over the coals. But up higher so flames won’t be an issue. Careful not to get too hot and burn the bird, so again I have to add, you ned to control the temperature. The longer it cooks in the 300F temperature range, the more smoke the bird will get. Yes, you can cook it fast in 450F, but it won’t taste as good. Plus, you won’t be able to drink as much beer before you eat. I see nothing but bad things when you rush a BBQ’d chicken. Just sayyyin.
After the bird is done, let it cool for a couple of minutes at which point you can cut it up into service sized portions. Unless you are going to eat a whole bird. Mind you, this should smell good enough that you will want to eat it whole.
How To Make BBQ Chicken, The Final Word
The final product is one hell of a sexy bird. The smoke has darkened the skin and infused the meat with great flavour. Over cook this bird and it will be dry. Under cook this bird and you could get quite sick. Its a delicate balance and takes time to learn when a bird is done. Better to be cautious and over cook it. You can get yourself a meat thermometer and stick it into the birds breast and thing. You learn the signs, can judge by the time it takes. I hope this has inspired you to produce some fine bbq chicken.