Competition Chicken with Root Beer Glaze

Flashback BBQ Chicken Recipe

This BBQ recipe is a “Flashback Recipe” from the first year or two for House of Q. This recipe was one of the first competition BBQ entries for BBQ Brian Misko and his cooking partner Glenn Erho.

The first time this was crafted was for the BC Chilli and BBQ Festival held at EAT Vancouver in May of 2005. House of Q was at their first-ever event and nervous. Very nervous. They were the only new team at the event with the other 23 or 24 teams having cooked at a BBQ competition before. There was no reference as to what type of chicken to enter into their competition entry tray – should the tray have thighs? wings? breasts? should it be saucy? not saucy? spicy? not spicy? There were so many question we did not know the answers to… but we knew we could do our best. That we could do.

First Step: Brine the Chicken

The recipe called for a brine – this allowed for moisture and seasoning of the chicken meat. The brine had a few different ingredients from a simple salt and sugar brine. It had lemons, toasted cinnamon sticks and onions. What!? Even the combination of onions and cinnamon was odd but add to it lemon. Goodness!

Second Step: Rub the Chicken – With Something Tasty!

The rub is fragrant with cinnamon as a dominant aroma and sweet overall. It was tasty though. You will see below that it had chilli powder, celery, garlic, onion (more onion?) and even more cinnamon. But don’t judge it yet!

Third Step: Coat it With Sauce

The sauce was a recipe found in an issue of Bon Appetit magazine. It used root beer as the base flavour along with a bunch of spices and sauces. It too was very tasty by itself. However would this combination of cinnamon and onion brine, a sweet rub and a root beer glaze catch the attention of the judges? Brine

Later in the day at the awards ceremony House of Q was called for an award… for chicken! In dis-belief and utter awe, the “walk” to the stage to collect a ribbon brought huge smiles on our faces. This crafty recipe was declared the 3rd place entry amongst the 25 or so teams. It wasn’t a bad recipe at all! In fact, it was tasty! Really tasty!

We hope you try to re-create this recipe as we did many years ago. We continued to use this recipe for a few years until the next version for our chicken entry was crafted. We won awards in Vancouver, Trail and Whistler, BC along with Calgary, AB and a trip to Douglas, GA for the National BBQ Festival. This recipe had a trail of awards!

Comment About Chicken

Bone in chicken has the best flavour when cooking BBQ and of course skin on. We cooked a combination of chicken thighs and chicken breasts but the choice is yours as to what cut you’d like to cook. The recipe below is easily enough volume for two whole birds or 18-20 thighs. Maybe even a bit more.

Root Beer Chicken tray 2005

Competition Chicken with Root Beer Glaze

Print Recipe
Course Main Course
Cuisine Grill, Smoker
HoQ Product Apple Butter BBQ Sauce, Five Star Competition BBQ Sauce, House Rub
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Brine Time 6 hours
Servings 6
Author House of Q


  • 8-12 pieces bone in, skin on chicken pieces, trimmed


  • 3 L water
  • 1 Cup sea or kosher salt
  • 1 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 Cups apple juice or cider
  • 2-3 – lemons cut into wedges
  • 1-2 – sweet onions cut into wedges
  • 4-6 – cinnamon sticks toasted
  • 6-8 cups ice

Chicken Rub

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup seasoned salt
  • 3 TB black pepper
  • 3 TB chilli powder
  • 3 TB paprika
  • 2 TB granulated celery
  • 2 TB granulated garlic
  • 2 TB granulated onion
  • 1 TB ground cinnamon
  • 1 TB allspice

Spritz – secret cooking step!

  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup apple juice

Root Beer BBQ Sauce:

  • This recipe is from the June issue in 2001 of Bon Appetit with the author Steven Raichlen.
  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 3 TB Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 TB dark brown sugar
  • 1 TB light molasses
  • 1 ts liquid smoke
  • ½ ts grated lemon peel
  • ½ ts ground ginger
  • ½ ts garlic powder
  • ½ ts onion powder


Make the Sauce

  • Start by making the sauce. Here is the instructions from the posted recipe on the Bon Appetit website.
  • Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 20 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Cool slightly. Transfer to bowl. Cover and refrigerate. DO AHEAD – This can be made 2 weeks ahead; keep refrigerated.

Make the Rub

  • To make the rub, whisk the spices together to make sure they are evenly mixed. Alternately, use a colander to blend the spices. Put in an ait tight container and set aside for your cook day.

Make the Brine

  • To make the brine, cut up the lemons and onions and toast the cinnamon sticks so they are fragrant. Dissolve the sugar and salt in a small portion of the water. Once dissolved, add the remaining water, juice and then the lemons, onions and cinnamon sticks. Then add the chicken and ice. Refrigerate this big bucket of brine for 6+ hours. Overnight is fine.

Cook Plan

  • Prepare your charcoal cooker for indirect smoking setup with half to three-quarters of a chimney of coals lit and one full chimney of unlit coals in your pit. Place the lit chimney onto the unlit coals and add maple or alder wood chips to the coals. Settle the cook temperature in around 275-300 F.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Position on a cooking rack and shape skin and pieces for competition entry. (This is an extra step but if you are a BBQ competitor, you will know to pull the skin tight and make sure all the pieces are the same shape and size.) Sprinkle with the rub coating all edges. Let rest for 10 minutes or so before putting the rack on the prepared smoker.
    root beer chicken rubbed and ready
  • Smoke the chicken for about an hour and check the internal temperature of the meat. Spritz with a spray bottle the mixture of apple juice and maple syrup. Close up the cooker and take note of the meat temperature. In another 15 minutes, open to cooker again, spritz and check the temperature again. The chicken is ready to be glazed when the meat reaches 140-145 F or so.
  • If the chicken is at the right temperature to glaze, remove the rack from the cooker. Brush with the Root Beer BBQ Sauce or use a “dip-n-roll” technique by dipping pieces into the warmed sauce. Place back on the rack and put the chicken back into the cooker to finish. The chicken is fully cooked when it has an internal temperature of 165 F and the sauce has set. Remove from the cooker and let rest for five to ten minutes.
  • If eating at home, cut up pieces and enjoy! If at a competition, delicately remove the breast meat from the bone and slice for your presentation tray. If using other cuts, portion them appropriately and place in you entry tray for the judges.
  • We hope your competition chicken turns out as good as ours did way back from 2005! Enjoy!

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