Smoked Spatchcock Chicken with IQUE BBQ Sauce

October 26, 2012 (Last Updated: May 13, 2020)
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Take your barbecue game to the next level with this incredible Smoked Spatchcock Chicken. Soaked in an award-winning brine, and then smoked to perfection, this succulent chicken is a BBQ dream! Serve it with out-of-this-world homemade IQUE BBQ sauce for the perfect finish.

closeup of smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with slaw and grilled corn

I truly am a lover of all things barbecue. For the longest time I’ve wanted to learn more about this popular American style of cooking.

I was all the more excited when I got the opportunity to review a cookbook entitled Wicked Good Barbecue: Fearless Recipes from Two Damn Yankees Who Won the Biggest, Baddest BBQ Competition in the World.

Wicked Good Barbecue

As the title suggests the book’s authors, Andy Husbands and Chris Hart, are not the typical Southern or Midwestern boys you may expect to excel at barbecue cookery.

They are from Boston and they have won some of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world. As a proud New Englander, I’m stoked to learn from two of my own people 🙂

Smoked spatchcock chicken on a white platter

This book is utterly fantastic! Be forewarned that it is not for novice cooks. I may not be an avid barbecuer but I do know a thing or two about cooking. Regardless, if you are inspired to cook amazing barbecue, you should definitely check out this book.

Smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with a side of slaw and grilled corn

Some of the recipes are incredibly time-consuming. I don’t expect you to necessarily whip up their 25-Step Championship Chicken the first time you open this book, even if it’s the first recipe listed. But if you have the time and motivation, there isn’t anything in this book that is completely unapproachable.

My only complaint about the book is that I wish each recipe specified up front how long they would take to prepare from start to finish (active and inactive time). Ideally, I could skim and see which would be possible given certain time restraints.

a chimney starter on a grill with smoke coming out of it
Chimney starter

The book discusses different styles of smokers. Most common, non-professional folks will likely turn their outdoor charcoal kettle grills into would-be smokers for the purposes of this book. Trust me, it will work just fine.

Husbands and Hart have done a great job explaining everything you’d want to know about barbecue. They have not only included their award-winning recipes, but they’ve also included truly novel creations. And desserts are certainly not forgotten either.

Smoked bbq chicken with bbq sauce drizzled on one portion

Secrets to smoked spatchcock chicken

For the main event, we decided to try the Smoked Spatchcock Chicken with Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine along with their IQUE BBQ Sauce. These recipes aren’t secrets anymore!

Let’s take a moment to define what a spatchcock chicken is. Basically it’s a butterflied chicken. You remove the backbone of the bird, and flatten it for faster cooking. Use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to accomplish this.

a raw spatchcocked chicken on a white cutting board
Spatchcocked chicken (means butterflied)

First of all, 25 must be a magic number for these guys because the top-secret brine contains 25 ingredients. It’s a little daunting when you look at the list, but it’s super easy to make. Quite frankly, it makes the best chicken we’ve ever had, and would be great for Thanksgiving turkey too!

a pot of brine with sliced apples and citrus fruits
Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine

You have to start the smoked spatchcock chicken recipe 2 days in advance to allow the chicken 12 to 24 hours to brine. Then you let it dry out in the fridge over night, before you cook the birds.

Even though it takes a lot of advance preparation, it’s actually a very easy dish with minimal effort. It also only takes about an hour to cook, so it’s faster than many other BBQ recipes which smoke overnight or all day.

The effort is 100% worth it because it yields the juiciest, most flavorful chicken ever. Even the breast meat, which can easily overcook, literally melts in you mouth. It’s truly out of this world! The next day I tried a leftover piece of chicken breast and it was still juicy and moist!

We actually scaled down the recipe and made only 2 chickens instead of 3, but maintained the same amount of brine (it was just easier than cutting the recipe). The chickens were slightly larger by a pound, so ours took a bit longer to cook through. Either way, they’re worth the wait!

overhead view of smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with slaw and grilled corn

The famous IQUE BBQ Sauce

Although the smoked spatchcock chicken can easily be served plain, you can also serve them with BBQ sauce if desired. We decided to give their homemade IQUE BBQ Sauce a try. It also has a laundry list of ingredients but is wicked easy (see, I’m from New England!) to make.

It’s definitely one of the best BBQ sauces I’ve had. It’s tomato and vinegar-based, giving the sauce a nice sweetness and tang with a spicy finish. The variety of spices includes Worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, dried mustard, ground cumin, and more. I would slather this stuff on almost anything (or drink it straight from the bowl). Definite two thumbs up for the sauce!

The recipe yields a lot, but keeps for a long time. If you plan on barbecuing regularly, your sauce won’t go to waste.

Homemade bbq sauce in a small white bowl

Other recipes you may like

Are you a BBQ aficionado? Have you ever tried smoked spatchcock chicken before? How does it measure up on your list of favorite barbecue recipes? Leave me a comment letting me know, and don’t forget to rate this recipe if you’ve tried it.

Smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with a side of slaw and grilled corn

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken with Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine and IQUE BBQ Sauce

Take your barbecue game to the next level with this incredible Smoked Spatchcock Chicken. Soaked in an award-winning brine, and then smoked to perfection, this succulent chicken is a BBQ dream! Serve it with out-of-this-world homemade IQUE BBQ sauce for the perfect finish.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 15 mins
Chilling Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 2 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Servings 10 to 12 servings
Calories 1057 kcal


  • 5-gallon food-grade bucket


Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine:

  • 3/4 gallon spring water
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 apple cored and cut into quarters (do not peel)
  • 1 orange cut into quarters
  • 1 lemon cut into quarters
  • 1 onion peeled and cut into quarters
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 2 heads roasted garlic split in half, skin on
  • 2 chipotle peppers canned in adobo sauce
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 8 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 4 pieces candied ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder


  • 3 whole, young birds, about 3 pounds each (preferably hormone and antibiotic-free, with no added water or other solutions)
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil
  • 1/2 cup mild chili powder


  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns freshly ground*
  • 3/4 teaspoon long peppercorns freshly ground*
  • 3/4 teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon tomato powder** (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon hickory powder** (optional) (we used liquid smoke, instead)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon IQUE Dry Rub (recipe follows)


  • To make the brine: Bring the water, broth, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, salad dressing, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, vinegar, apple, orange, lemon, onion, garlic (fresh and roasted), and chipotles to a boil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, thyme, sage, ginger, cinnamon, and chili powder. Using a whisk, mix ingredients well. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Pour into bucket and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight. (We actually made an ice bath in the kitchen sink and cooled it that way to speed up the process and get our birds brined).
  • Spatchcock the chickens. For each one, using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone and remove the back. Flip the bird breast-side up and press down until the breast bone cracks.
  • Place the spatchcocked birds in a food-safe buckets and pour brine over so the birds are fully submerged (use plates as a weight, if necessary). Place the bucket in refrigerator and brine for 12 to 24 hours (we placed our bucket in a giant cooler filled with ice).
  • Remove the birds from the brine and place skin-side up on a cooling rack set over a sheet pan. Dry with paper towels and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. The exposure to the air will dry out the birds, making for crispy skin when they cook.
  • Prepare smoker (we used apple wood chips) and bring heat to 350 degrees F. If using a kettle grill, build a two-zone fire, and use foil or a drip pan to keep chicken juices from dripping directly into the fire.
  • Rub peanut oil over the birds, then sprinkle with chili powder. There is salt in the brine, so don’t use a traditional rub that has more salt in it.
  • Place chickens skin-side down on clean grill grates. This will help keep them moist. The skin creates a barrier, so the juices accumulate in the meat instead of dripping down into the fire. If you are using a kettle grill, place them on the cool side of the grate.
  • Cook for 1 hour, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees F in the breast and 170 degrees F in the thigh. Remove from the cooker and let rest for 20 minutes, skin-side up.
  • Meanwhile make the IQUE BBQ Sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, make a gastrique by bringing the brown sugar, cider vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce to a gentle boil.
  • Remove from the heat and add the thyme, mustard, garlic powder, cumin, ground Szechuan peppercorns, ground long peppercorns, chipotle powder, and tomato powder and hickory powder, if using. Let sit for 15 minutes.
  • Stir in the ketchup and corn syrup, return to stove, and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add IQUE Dry Rub. Let cool and store in refrigerator, preferably in squeeze bottles, for up to 1 month. Makes 1 quart sauce.
  • To serve, baste the chicken with warm IQUE BBQ Sauce–or simply serve as-is, which is our preferred way to eat it.

Notes & Nutrition

*A blend of mixed peppercorns can be substituted for the Szechuan and long peppercorns, but in our opinion the sauce won’t be nearly as wicked. (We just used black peppercorns and the world didn’t end, so I think you’re okay).
**Tomato powder and hickory powder are available by mail order or at specialty food stores.
Adapted from Wicked Good Barbecue
IQUE BBQ Sauce Only
Servings 20.0 * calories 123 * Total Fat 0 g * Saturated Fat 0 g * Monounsaturated Fat 0 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 0 mg * Sodium 240 mg * Potassium 104 mg * Total Carbohydrate 32 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 27 g * Protein 0 g
Spatchcock Chicken
Servings 12.0 * calories 800 * Total Fat 60 g * Saturated Fat 15 g * Monounsaturated Fat 4 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 300 mg * Sodium 680 mg * Potassium 0 mg * Total Carbohydrate 0 g * Dietary Fiber 0 g * Sugars 0 g * Protein 63 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*
whole smoked spatchcock chickens on a large white platter

IQUE Dry Rub

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Condiments
Cuisine American, Barbecue, BBQ
Servings 3 cups


  • 1 cup turbinado or raw sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup high-quality paprika such as Spanish paprika
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds freshly ground
  • 4 teaspoons mixed peppercorns freshly ground (we used black peppercorns)
  • 4 teaspoons garlic granules we used garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons onion granules we used onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons MSG or Accent, optional
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder


  • Place all ingredients in a large spice blender and pulse until it becomes a fine powder (we just mixed it by hand). Refrigerate in an airtight container. This rub will keep indefinitely, but try to use within 1 month to ensure freshest flavor.

Notes & Nutrition

Pin it for Later!

whole smoked spatchcock chicken, and chicken served on a green plate with bbq sauce

*Disclaimer* I received no compensation to write this review other than a free copy of the book. My opinions are always my own.

1 Comment

  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    May 18, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    5 stars
    This is perfect for a Summer cook out. Yummm!

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