Grilling Main Dish Poultry

Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken

July 21, 2014

Summer, of course, is always a great time to grill. I’m not a master of the grill by any means, so I love when I go to my mom’s house and she can take over. One of these days I’m going to get my learnin’ on, but for now I enjoy tackling the sides (like this Ranchero Corn) and letting her handle the main dish. This Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken was something I was really looking forward to. Meat that has been brined is so tender and flavorful, plus this one gets slathered in a homemade barbecue sauce while it grills.

Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken

So, how’s it taste?

The brining did not disappoint! The chicken was really tender, and although I couldn’t identify the specific elements of the brine, it just plain tasted good. The recipe calls for skin-on, bone-in chicken, and I wanted to follow that since I know bone-in chicken can be more tender when cooking. However, we both decided next time, we’d like to stick with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. We’re not big skin eaters and that’s where all the barbecue flavor was. I really wish I had made extra of the barbecue sauce to serve on the side because it was out of this world good. Like I want to pour it in a cup and drink it kind of good! One of my pet peeves with sauces and grilling is that the sugar in the sauce really burns. This chicken turned out a little blacker than I’d like, but luckily it was on the skin and I could just peel that off. The drummies and thighs were crazy tender and delicious. Just wish I had more of that sauce to sop it up with!

Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken

Next time, I think I’ll brine the chicken and grill it without the barbecue sauce, or maybe add a little sauce at the very last minute. I’ll serve most of the barbecue sauce on the side. That stuff was way too good to get burned off on the grill. I would definitely take advantage of making the barbecue sauce the day before, too. This recipe is easy, but a bit time consuming making the sauce the day of if you’re also making sides and other things.

Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken

Yield: 8 servings

Total Time: 1 hr (plus overnight brining)

Beer-Brined Barbecue Chicken


3 (12 oz.) cans amber or bock beer
1/3 cup kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. hot sauce
4 bay leaves
4 cups water
6 lbs. assorted skin-on, bone-in chicken pieces

Barbecue Sauce
Juice of 2 large oranges
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tbsp. chili powder
Vegetable oil, for the grill


1. Brine the chicken: Combine 1 can of beer, salt, granulated sugar, hot sauce, and bay leaves in a very large bowl and whisk until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add the remaining 2 cans of beer, 4 cups water, and the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

2. Make the barbecue sauce: Combine the orange juice, vinegar, onion, garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, Worcestershire, and chili powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. (The sauce can be made up to one day ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

3. Preheat a grill to medium low and brush the grates with vegetable oil. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season the chicken with salt, then arrange on the grill, skin side up. Cover and cook until marked, about 12 minutes per side. Continue cooking, flipping and basting the chicken with the barbecue sauce every 3 to 4 minutes (keep covered in between), until a thermometer inserted into the center of a breast registers 165 degrees, about 15 more minutes. Transfer to a platter and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Food Network magazine, July/August 2014

You Might Also Like

  • Jacki @ Two Forks One Love July 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I’m making beer can chicken tonight. I love the way beer and chicken combine — I’ll have to try this BBQ version for sure!

  • Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice July 21, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I don’t grill at all, Leah…that’s my husband’s job (and he prefers it that way), so I totally understand where you’re coming from! 🙂 This chicken looks amazing! It’s making my mouth water, and it’s only 10am! I love that you brined the chicken too, I haven’t tried that before, but now I’m intrigued! Pinning this so that my husband can try this one out!

  • Cailee @ July 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    YUM! This looks delicious!! I love love LOVE BBQ chicken! It’s great all year long, but it’s the BEST in the summer time! YUM! 🙂

  • Sues July 21, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    This looks so beautiful! I always love a little extra barbecue sauce on the side 🙂

  • Kelly July 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    Haha I’m with you Leah – my husband and mom are the grill masters in this family too 🙂 This looks amazing and so flavorful! I am a sucker for beer brined chicken and this one sounds perfect with the sauce!

  • Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy July 21, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Yes! I am a big fan of anything that uses beer 🙂

  • cheri July 21, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    HI Leah, love grilling in the summer time as it is my husband’s task, but also I love the way meats and veggies taste. Your sauce sounds wonderful, nice that you took the time to brine the chicken, bet I was delicious.

  • Kathi @ Deliciously Yum! July 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    The chicken is so drool-worthy!! I can tell it’s almost time to eat dinner because I can hardly handle looking at your pics, lol. So gorgeous. Also, love your recipe for homemade BBQ sauce – looks and sounds like a real winner.

  • Olivia - Primavera Kitchen July 22, 2014 at 7:44 am

    hahahah… I never grill anything, Leah! My husband grills in my home and he loves it. So I am with you Leah! This chicken looks awesome with this sauce!

  • Annie @Maebells July 22, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Ohh I love this! I have been on the lookout for a really good BBQ chicken recipe. I really like that the sauce is homemade too! Trying this soon!

  • Natalie @ Tastes Lovely July 22, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Brining makes such a difference in meat. Makes it so much juicier and flavorful! I bet this tasted amazing. Can’t wait to give your recipe a try!

  • Arpita@ The Gastronomic Bong July 22, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Yumm!! I am drooling.. the chicken looks so amazing.. 🙂

  • Shannon @ Bake. Frost. Repeat. July 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    WANT!!!!! While I’m a boneless, skinless chicken breast kinda girl myself, nothing beats a nice bone-in peice of grilled chicken breast. And this BBQ sauce and brine sounds right up my alley!!!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker July 22, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I’m normally a boneless/skinless chicken sort of girl, but when it’s grilled with bbq sauce, I love it bone-in. This looks really good, and I actually like that it got a little charred – that’s that way I like it!

  • Denise | Sweet Peas & Saffron July 22, 2014 at 5:03 pm

    I made a cider-brined turkey for Thanksgiving a few times and it got rave reviews…so moist and tender. I bet this chicken is amazing! Will have to give it a try!

  • Layla @ Brunch Time Baker July 22, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    OMG all I can say is YUM!! I’m trying this for my next barbeque.

  • Erika S. July 25, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    How much sugar do you use? The measurement isn’t listed…I’m trying this out tonite…can’t wait!

    • Leah Short July 25, 2014 at 9:09 pm

      1/3 cup. It was on the same line as the salt. I corrected it in the recipe. Thanks for letting me know!

  • Isadora July 27, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Beer, chicken, and grilling are the perfect summertime things! My husband would so love this beer brined chicken! I just bought a huge thing of chicken at the store and I think this recipe is calling it’s name!

  • Erika S. September 9, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    I’ve tried this receipe twice on ribs…had to modify given the weight of the ribs…soooo good. I did a grilled and baked version. The grilled version is amazing…even my picky mom loved them!

    • Leah Short September 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm