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Delicious Beer Brined Smoked Chicken

beer brined chicken
Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Smoker Temp: 275°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan
What You’ll Need
Step 1: Make the Brine

Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to 1/2 gallon of cold water..

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Stir in the salt until it dissolves and the water becomes clear.

Add ¼ cup of Jeff’s original rub  and 4 bottles of beer (12 oz)

Stir to combine. It may get a little foamy..

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The brine is ready to use

Step 2: Brine the Chicken

Rinse chicken pieces under cold water

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Place chicken into a plastic or glass container

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Pour the brine over the chicken to cover.

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Add some ice on top to make sure it is nice and cold and place the bowl in the fridge for about 4 hours.

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When the brining is finished, rinse the chicken really good to remove any extra salt residue from the surface.

Step 3: Apply the Rub

Place the chicken pieces into a large ziptop bag and pour ¼ cup of Jeff’s original rub  into the bag.

Zip the bag closed and roll or massage the bag to coat all of the chicken with the rub.

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Once the chicken is well coated, place the chicken pieces onto a Bradley rack or pan. It is now ready to cook in the smoker.

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Step 4: Smoke the Chicken

Set up your smoker for cooking at 275°F if possible.  If your smoker will not heat to that temperature, then normal smoking temperatures (225-240°F) will work fine.

Use indirect heat (most smokers are designed for this by default).

Once the smoker is ready, place the chicken on the smoker grate and let it smoke cook until it reaches 165°F  in the the thickest part of each piece. This should take about 1 hour but watch the temperature carefully as the times will vary from smoker to smoker and depending on how often you open the lid, how cold the chicken entered the smoker and even weather.

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About 15 minutes before the chicken is finished, brush on the beer barbecue glaze (recipe below)

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Beer Barbecue Glaze

Stir well to combine. You can make it more thick or thin by changing the ratio of sauce to beer.

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Step 5: Serve It Up

Check each piece using a quick reading thermometer such as a Thermapen to make sure a safe temperature of 165°F has been obtained.

Thermapen Mk4 Orange

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Serve with extra beer barbecue sauce for dipping if you like.

Notes/Comments:
  1. This chicken was extremely juicy, even the white breast meat and you could distinctively taste the beer flavor all the way through the meat.
  2. Use any kind of beer you like.. the cheap stuff will work perfectly. I always use Shiner Bock when I use beer in recipes and it works great.
  3. Yes, you can use something besides beer if you like and it will still be super juicy and flavorful. Some things that work well are:
  • Cherry Dr. Pepper
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Root Beer
  • Peach, Apple, Apricot nectar
  • Apple Cider or Juice
  • Sparkling Grape Juice
  • Buttermilk

If you are not able to smoke at the higher temperature I recommended, it will take longer for the chicken to get done. At normal smoking temperatures of 225-240°F, the chicken pieces will take around 2 hours to reach 165°F.

Print

Delicious Beer Brined Smoked Chicken

  • Author: Jeff Phillips
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 -6 1x
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 12 Chickens (((cut into pieces)))
  • 4 bottles of beer (((12 oz)))
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 gallon water
  • Jeff’s original rub recipe
  • Beer/BBQ Glaze (((recipe below)))

Instructions

Step 1: Make the Brine

  1. Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to 1/2 gallon of cold water..
  2. Stir in the salt until it dissolves and the water becomes clear.
  3. Add ¼ cup of Jeff’s rub and 4 bottles of beer (12 oz)
  4. Stir to combine. It may get a little foamy..
  5. The brine is ready to use

Step 2: Brine the Chicken

  1. Rinse chicken pieces under cold water
  2. Place chicken into a plastic or glass container
  3. Pour the brine over the chicken to cover.
  4. Add some ice on top to make sure it is nice and cold and place the bowl in the fridge for about 4 hours.
  5. When the brining is finished, rinse the chicken really good to remove any extra salt residue from the surface.

Step 3: Apply the Rub

  1. Place the chicken pieces into a large ziptop bag and pour ¼ cup of Jeff’s rub into the bag.
  2. Zip the bag closed and roll or massage the bag to coat all of the chicken with the rub.
  3. Once the chicken is well coated, place the chicken pieces onto a Bradley rack or pan. It is now ready to cook in the smoker.

Step 4: Smoke the Chicken

  1. Set up your smoker for cooking at 275°F if possible. If your smoker will not heat to that temperature, then normal smoking temperatures (225-240°F) will work fine.
  2. Use indirect heat (most smokers are designed for this by default).
  3. Once the smoker is ready, place the chicken on the smoker grate and let it smoke cook until it reaches 165°F in the the thickest part of each piece. This should take about 1 hour but watch the temperature carefully as the times will vary from smoker to smoker and depending on how often you open the lid, how cold the chicken entered the smoker and even weather.
  4. About 15 minutes before the chicken is finished, brush on the beer barbecue glaze (recipe below)

Beer Barbecue Glaze

  1. 2 TBS Jeff's barbecue sauce
  2. 1/4 cup beer
  3. Stir well to combine. You can make it more thick or thin by changing the ratio of sauce to beer.

Step 5: Serve It Up

  1. Check each piece using a quick reading thermometer such as a Thermapen to make sure a safe temperature of 165°F has been obtained.
  2. Serve with extra beer barbecue sauce for dipping if you like.

Notes/Comments:

  1. This chicken was extremely juicy, even the white breast meat and you could distinctively taste the beer flavor all the way through the meat.
  2. Use any kind of beer you like.. the cheap stuff will work perfectly. I usually use Shiner Bock when I use beer in recipes and it works great.

Yes, you can use something besides beer if you like and it will still be super juicy and flavorful. Some things that work well are:

  1. Cherry Dr Pepper, Dr Pepper, Root beer, fruit nectar, apple cider, sparkling grape juice, buttermilk, etc.
  2. If you are not able to smoke at the higher temperature I recommended, it will take longer for the chicken to get done. At normal smoking temperatures of 225-240°F, the chicken pieces will take around 2 hours to reach 165°F.

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Recipe rating

12 Comments

  1. Jeff,
    I’ve made this recipe many times and always enjoy it. I’m going to need to make this in advance of an event – but sometimes when I reheat chicken the skin doesn’t turn out the best. Do you have any advice for making this recipe ahead of time and how to reheat the chicken quarters? I will not have access to a grill or smoker…only ovens. Thanks!

  2. I used 1gal of water by mistake (plus 4 Newcastle Brown Ale beers), so it was way too much liquid. That said, the flavor was perfect and definitely not too salty.

    Overall I really loved this recipe, but the skin on my chicken didn’t get crisp enough. One bite into it and the entire skin pulls off because it’s still too tough. The rub flavor was perfect. I wish that I used skinless thighs instead of skin-on because the flavor was so good.

  3. Planning on trying this tomorrow. Do you know how it would work for pulled chicken? I have a large package of thighs and thought I would make some for lunches this week. I think you would probably omit the glaze at the end if removing the skin, but seems like this would work. Right?

  4. We have beer can chicken smoked, grilled, or oven roasted often. This recipe cuts to the chase and intensified the flavor and moisture. The one cup of salt to water and beer looked like too much, and I was brining in a one gallon vacuum bag. I cut the salt to about a quarter cup, added the rub, and filled with the water and beer. I rinsed it, patted it dry, and seasoned with the rub. Every piece came out really moist, full of flavor and the aroma appetizing. I used Apple wood to smoke on my Brinkmann Gourmet electric. Today the Maple syrup chicken will be on the rack! Thanks Jeff. I bought the book, downloaded the rubs and sauce too.

  5. followed recipe to the T!! I’ll be in a hypetensive crisis by morning. I followed the recipe as listed when printed (note there are some issues vs. the website description) and the salt taste was overwhelming!!!! I rinsed the chicken on both side and under the skin after the brining. Chicken was tender, looked great, just like your pics on the website, but tasted like a saltlick block for my horse…. there has to be an issue somewhere, I’m a numbers guy (engineer type) and this didnt work for me. noted that you admit there was an adjustment on the water from J. Rowland… if there is an adjustment from your part please note/adjust the recipe (wood type, water quantity etc…) in the recipe and not leave any corrections in the comment section. Your readers dont rely on comments to correct recipe changes. Cant give this one an endorsement.

    1. I’m sorry I don’t usualy make comments but I have to disagree on this one. First time I made this recipe my husband thought it was the best BBQ chicken he had ever eaten. I have made this recipe on four different occasions now. Each time following the recipe. In all I have probably served it to about 50 people, all with rave reviews and several requests for the recipe.
      This is easy and comes out perfect every time. I think its a keeper

  6. Jeff,
    I had 35 more dinner on the 4th of July. I made your beer brined chicken! It was AMAZING. Hands down the best chicken I have ever cooked. The chicken was super moist and your rub clearly took the flavor to a new level.
    Thanks!

  7. Your brine recipe says “1/2 gallon of water”, which is 2 quarts. Your pitcher (in the picture) looks like a standard 2-quart pitcher, but you only filled it half-full, which would be 1/4 gallon of water.

    If you really added 4 bottles of beer to 1/2 gallon of water, you would not be able to fit it into a standard 2qt pitcher. I just want to clarify whether: A) you have a giant, 1-gallon pitcher; or, B) you meant to say 1/4 gallon of water (which it what your picture *looks* like).

    Thanks!

  8. Great recipe, I made this with Dr Pepper instead of beer. My husband said this is the best BBQ chicken he has ever eaten!

  9. Hello Jeff,
    I’m from Australia, and I’m sure people all over the world love learning from you. Can you please update your recipe’s to include degrees Celsius for us using the metric system? Or say when it is Fahrenheit? That would be very helpful thanks.
    Cheers
    Kathryn

  10. Hey Jeff,

    Looks delicious! Curious if you could use this same recipe with regular chicken breasts purchased at a super market, or if there is something particular about breaking down a full chicken that makes this work better?

    Thanks!