Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken

I’m not sure about elsewhere, but the supermarkets where I live have dramatically cut back on their weekly sales. Both A&P and Pathmark (which represents two-thirds of my shopping choices) have cut their weekly sales circular back from 24-pages to just 8-pages. So just as the summer BBQ season is heating up, my choices of inexpensively priced meat to put on the BBQ is dwindling.  The same Chuck Beef that was regularly on sale for $2/lb last year, will now only go as low as $3.50/lb. Fortunately, chicken breasts were on sale for $1.29/lb this week, so 5-pounds was only $6.50.

Inexpensive and not much work, but no one will ever know.

While I kind of wanted to make Fried Chicken, the day was too nice spend it indoors. So I searched my recipe book for some form of BBQ chicken. To my surprise, I found only one; Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken. Actually, Chris Kimball’s original recipe calls for cooking it in the oven, but in 2009 I adapted the recipe to cook on the BBQ.  This chicken recipe takes very little effort, but tastes best with a little planning (6 to 24-hours recommended). But even when I gave the spices only 1-1/2 hours to work their magic; still, the chicken was a solid 4-stars.


  1. This recipe calls for allowing the spice rub to marinate the chicken for 6 hours. But because I decided to make this chicken around 1:30pm, so could only sit them sit for only 1-1/2 hours. To compensate, I increased the spice mixture by 1/3.
  2. The original recipe calls for chimney start to be only 80% full. With the new formulation of Kingsford, I had to go with a full chimney starter. Plus instead of waiting 15-minutes, I had to wait 30 minutes for the coals to become covered in a fine grey ash.

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $7 for 5-pounds of chicken.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

5 lbs chicken, bone-in
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  1. Make 2 or 3 slashes in the skin of every chicken piece, but be careful not to cut into the meat.
  2. Mix together salt, sugar, and spices in small bowl.
  3. Remove ribs from chicken breasts and cut breasts in half for even cooking. Trim away any excess fat.
  4. Coat the chicken pieces with spice mixture, lifting the skin to rub the spices underneath.
  5. Transfer chicken skin side up to wire rack placed on a foil-lined baking sheet. Tent loosely with foil, and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours to allow the spices to permeate into the meat. Because of lack of planning, I only had 1-1/2 hours.
  6. Light a chimney starter full of charcoal, and wait 30-minutes until it is covered with a fine grey ash.
  7. Put a disposable foil pan in middle, then distribute your burning coals equally on both sides.
  8. Place chicken skin side down directly over pan (indirect heat) and roast the chicken for 1 hour, flip and rearrange chicken after 25 minutes.
  9. Finish the chicken with 10 minutes over coals. Ensure that the internal temperature is correct (at least 160-degrees for white meat and 175-degrees for dark meat). Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

4 Responses to Spice-Rubbed Picnic Chicken

  1. Anonymous says:

    I was trying out the oven version and was wondering when you loosely tent w foil, is that only when you are marinating the meat or do you keep the foil on during the baking time? I’m cooking this tonight so I’m just trying it out but would be great to know what you do.

    • Hi,

      The tenting is only during refrigeration. Since it is in the refrigerator for up to 24-hours you definitely want to cover it while marinating. However in the oven, the roasting will be more effective and the skin will be crisper without being covered.

      Sorry I didn’t get back to you in time for last night. Time zones!


      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks for the reply! I took off the foil half way and they still turned out well though not as crispy as yours look. The rub turned out spicier/less sweet than I thought it would be though – I added the paprika last minute because I didn’t have it the night before and the flavor was pretty intense but good.

        Since I’m writing anyway, I just wanted to be another person to thank you for creating and writing this website. It’s really great to read.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: