Chef's notes:

Barbecued chicken does not necessarily have to contain some sort of BBQ sauce. It’s just the way that some people—me and probably you—like it. The most important part about making really good BBQ chicken is to keep the lid down on the grill and make smoke. The smoke is what makes the chicken good. Anytime you are cooking with smoke, soaking the meat in a brine is a good idea. So that’s what I did with this quartered chicken. Soaked it in brine, grilled it, barbecued it with smoke, and then sauced it at the very end. Best chicken I’ve had in a while.


  • 1 quartered chicken
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce to coat in the final step (optional)

Barbecued Chicken Recipe: Smoky Grilled Chicken Quarters Brined and Grilled Slow with Seasoning Salt and BBQ Sauce

  1. Quarter a chicken or buy chicken quarters. Quartering a chicken is easy. Basically you just remove the backbone, split the breasts, and remove the legs and thighs in one piece. Or you can just buy chicken quarters.
  2. Brine the chicken for several hours or overnight. Mix up the brine and pour it over the chicken. Use a deep bowl or a plastic bag like I have here. Store the brining chicken in the fridge on a tray or in a bowl to keep it from dripping.
  3. Heat up a grill and get the smoker box ready. Turn the grill on high and close the lid. After a few minutes, clean the grates with a wire brush. Then add a few handfuls of small wood chips to a smoker box and place it on the grates.
  4. Once the grill is hot, start cooking the chicken. Oil the grates just a little to keep the chicken from sticking. Season the chicken with a little bit of the seasoning salt on both sides. Cook the chicken until it’s brown on both sides.
  5. Move the chicken to the top rack and adjust the heat. Or, if you don’t have a rack, move the chicken off to the side away from the direct heat. The smoker box should be over the heat. It should begin to smoke after a few minutes.
  6. Keep flipping and rotating the chicken until it's done. The chicken will cook slowly over the next 1–2 hours in the smoky grill. It will end up being lightly smoked and very delicious. Use a digital thermometer and check the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it is at least 165 degrees F.
  7. If desired, glaze it with BBQ Sauce. Sometimes chicken is good with some BBQ sauce on it. But there is little point in putting it on until you are near the end or it will burn and taste bad. Sauce each side and close the lid for a few minutes to set and dry the glaze. Then set it on a platter and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Tips & Tricks

  • A whole chicken is the cheapest way to buy chicken. And quartering a chicken is really easy. This recipe would also be fun to make with just legs. They are my favorite part.
  • You can make a homemade smoker box with aluminum foil. Just make an envelope or pouch with the foil and place the wood chips inside. Poke a few holes on top so the smoke can get out.
  • The smoker box should be made out of cast iron. The tin ones will bend and warp when heated.
  • Also, only fill the smoker box two-thirds full for each use. There is no need to wet them since they are in the box. Keep in mind that if your lid doesn’t close tightly, you will start a fire because of the ready access to oxygen.

Chicken brine recipe

  • ⅓ cup sea salt
  • ¼ cup cane sugar
  • 2 Tbsp allspice berries
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 tray ice cubes

Seasoning salt recipe

  • Paprika
  • Salt
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder