Bourbon Smoked Chicken Recipe

3h 30m

Bourbon and BBQ both have Southern roots and get their signature flavours from burned wood. So it isn’t surprising that adding a little bourbon to your BBQ sauce gives it a sultry, smoky flavour that pairs well with smoked meats like this whole chicken, smoked on an Oklahoma Joe’s Judge.

The chicken is spatchcocked [flattened out] to allow the smoke to flow evenly over the bird, resulting in shorter cook times and more even cooking. Mop sauce is dabbed onto the meat during the cooking process so that the sauce cooks onto the chicken, creating layers of flavour.



1.8 kg-pound whole chicken
2 tablespoons canola oil or other high temperature cooking oil
3 tablespoons BBQ rub
2 oak wood splits


1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1½ teaspoons course ground black pepper
½ teaspoon granulated garlic

Bourbon BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup apple jelly
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon BBQ rub (reserved)
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mop Sauce

½ cup BBQ sauce
¼ cup apple juice
1 teaspoon BBQ rub


  1. Preheat your smoker to 135°C. Fill and place a water pan on the charcoal tray. Preheat the smoking wood and add to the fire about 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook.
    HOT TIPUsing a water pan to add moisture to the smoke chamber is optional and can increase condensation under the smoker lid. Adding spices, beer or wine to the water pan can be used to infuse an added layer of flavour into your food.
  2. Place the chicken on a cutting board, breast side down. Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, remove the chicken’s backbone. Flip it over and firmly press down on the centre of the breast, cracking the rib bones and flattening the chicken.
  3. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Lightly coat with canola oil and season the entire chicken with BBQ rub, including the back side.
    HOT TIPHigh-temp cooking oil is oil that has a high smoke point, the temperature at which the oil starts to smoke. Peanut, canola and avocado oil are high-temp cooking oils.
  4. Place the chicken on the smoker grate, over the water pan, with the thighs and legs positioned closer to the heat. Cook until the internal temperature of the breasts reaches 70°C in the breasts and 80°C in the thighs, 3 to 3½ hours.
  5. Mix together ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, apple jelly, bourbon, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, BBQ rub, garlic and cayenne pepper in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until the ingredients combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and stir occasionally for 5 minutes.
  6. Combine BBQ sauce and apple juice to make the mop sauce. Stir in BBQ rub. When the chicken has cooked for 2 hours, lightly mop the top of the chicken. Mop again in 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the smoker and let it rest on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve with the remaining bourbon BBQ sauce on the side.

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