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Smoked bbq chicken on a green plate with a side of slaw and grilled corn
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5 from 2 votes

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.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time1 hr 15 mins
Chilling Time1 d
Total Time1 d 2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, BBQ
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 800kcal
Author: Victoria


  • 5-gallon food-grade bucket


Top-Secret Blue Ribbon Brine:

  • ¾ gallon spring water
  • 1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¾ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • ¼ 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)
  • ½ cup peanut oil
  • ½ cup mild chili powder


  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tablespoon dried thyme
  • ½ tablespoon ground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns freshly ground*
  • ¾ teaspoon long peppercorns freshly ground*
  • ¾ teaspoon chipotle powder or cayenne pepper
  • ½ tablespoon tomato powder** (optional)
  • ¾ teaspoon hickory powder** (optional) (we used liquid smoke, instead)
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • ¼ 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°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°F in the breast and 170°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.


*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


Calories: 800kcal | Fat: 60g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 300mg | Sodium: 680mg