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Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken Recipe

Course: Main Course
Total Time: A Day Or More
Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: Moderate
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Whiskey-Glazed Smoked Chicken

Here two techniques, glazing and smoking, result in a rich mahogany-colored skin and a sweet tangy flavor from the bourbon, sugar, and cayenne. The technique is simple: the glaze is cooked to a light syrupy consistency and brushed on halfway through the smoking, and then again at the end. Serve hot or cold. It’s not always easy to make cold chicken look really appetizing, but this is one sure way to do it. It’s excellent served on lettuces with a vinaigrette or with a sharp potato salad.

Yield: 4 servings


The brine:

  • 1 gallon/4 liters water
  • 1 ½ cups/350 grams kosher salt
  • ½ cup/125 grams sugar
  • 1 ½ ounces/42 grams pink salt (8 teaspoons)

  • 1 chicken, 3 to 4 pounds/1.25 to 2 kilograms

The glaze:

  • 1 cup/250 milliliters bourbon or Wild Turkey
  • ½ cup/125 grams maple sugar or ½ cup/125 milliliters maple syrup
  • ¼ packed cup/50 grams dark brown sugar
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper


1.    Combine all the brine ingredients in a pot large enough to hold the chicken and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.

2.    Remove any giblets from the cavity and truss the chicken, then submerge it in the brine. Weight it down with a plate to keep it submerged, and refrigerate for 18 hours.

3.    Remove the chicken from the brine (discard the brine), rinse under cool water, and pat dry. Refrigerate, uncovered, for a least 3 to 4 hours, and up to a day.

4.    Combine the glaze ingredients in a small heavy bottomed pan and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and gently simmer until thick and syrupy and reduced to about a cup/250 milliliters/ Remove from the heat and let cool.

5.    Begin hot-smoking the chicken. Halfway through the smoking—about 1 ½ hours if you’re smoking at about 200 degrees F./93 degrees C.—remove the chicken from the smoker and brush all over with half the glaze. Return the chicken to the smoker and continue cooking until a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 160 degrees F./71 degrees C.

6.    Remove the chicken from the smoker and brush all over with the remaining glaze. It should have a deep brown color.

7.    Serve hot, or cool and refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.


© 2005 Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn

Editor's Note

Nutritional information is based on using a 3 pound chicken.


Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

757kcal (38%)
64mg (6%)
3mg (6%)
85mcg RAE (3%)
155mg (52%)
6450mg (269%)
9g (45%)
31g (48%)
3mg (14%)

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