Maple bourbon glazed smoked chicken quarters are so juicy and crazy delicious. Smoke in the Big Green Egg, grill, or electric smoker, and enjoy the most succulent flavorful chicken of your life in less than two hours.
Smoked chicken is the best chicken
Chicken needs help. Chicken needs love. A lot of love. Because by itself, there just isn’t a whole hell of a lot of flavor.
But, one thing chicken has going for it is that it takes up flavor so well. And, because it is so inherently bland, chicken marries with flavors really well and just Sucks Up all that smoke when we smoke it.
Hence, chicken is a perfect, relatively quick cook (under 2 hours in this case), smoker meat.
Maple and bourbon are made for each other
Everyone is pretty familiar with maple syrup. Hopefully, the real stuff. 100% pure maple syrup (though I totally admit I have a bottle of Log Cabin in my cupboard).
But then you know that maple is sweet but not too sweet. And that it has its own distinct maple-ey awesome flavor.
Bourbon also has distinct flavor. It is rich in notes of vanilla, oak, and caramel, and, therefore, literally a PERFECT pairing with maple syrup to make a glaze for freaking tasty smoked chicken quarters. This combination of flavors is incredible.
- Bourbon. Kentucky bourbon preferably, just because. And don’t worry about the alcohol because all this cooking will cook the alcohol off and just leave the flavor.
- Pure maple syrup. The real stuff.
- Ketchup imparts flavor but is also a thickener.
- Light brown sugar gives sweetness but also helps the glaze develop. It also adds to the rub for the chicken.
- Cider vinegar for a touch of acid to cut the sweetness.
- Barbecue seasoning of choice.
- Balsamic vinegar for depth of flavor.
- Chicken quarters. These are a very affordable cut of meat as a bonus, often on sale.
- Salt and pepper.
Making the Maple Bourbon Glaze
Making the glaze for the chicken could not be easier. Just literally put the ingredients in a little pot, simmer to thicken, and that is it.
Super super easy.
The one key is to watch it a bit. Since there is all the sugar from the maple syrup and brown sugar, it can burn or overly condense if left too long.
So, just a little simmer for 10 to 15 minutes will do the trick, and keep an eye on it.
Smoking the chicken
Smoking is a very simple process: make smoke, then cook as long as that particular cut of meat requires. We do this slowly to allow time for the smoke to impart its flavor into the meat.
I like 275°F. For us, be it our grill using a smoke box, our electric smoker, or our Big Green Egg, 275°F seems to be our perfect smoke temperature.
And for when we made this chicken, I liked applewood to make the smoke.
Use indirect heat for smoked chicken quarters. There have been SOOO many times that we have grilled chicken quarters and because they gave off so much fat straight away, there was fire and we always ended up with ridiculously charred chicken.
So, for smoked chicken quarters, you want indirect heat. In the Big Green Egg, this is done one of either two ways: convEggtor or half moon bake stones. Both serve to block the direct scorching heat of the coals.
In a traditional grill using a smoke box, simply put the chicken off to one side over a burner that is not lit, with the others lit. In an electric smoker – no worries, just stick the chicken right in there.
Which particular wood you use to smoke is up to you. I like applewood for this recipe, but pecan would be perfect too. I would just stay away from strong flavors like mesquite.
This recipe is easily multiplied to feed more people. Just double – triple – quadruple – for your needs.
As always, let the smoked chicken quarters rest before serving. For this size a cut of meat, 5 minutes is sufficient.
The Maple Bourbon glaze can be made a day or two in advance.
More grilled chicken recipes
- Honey Beer BBQ Chicken and Waffles
- Applewood Smoked Organic, Free-Range Chicken
- Pesto Chicken with Basil Tomato Cream
- Jerk Chicken Skewers with Pineapple Yogurt Dip
- Grilled Tandoori Chicken with Spiced Chickpeas
- Orange and Cilantro-Marinated Chicken Tacos
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Maple Bourbon Smoked Chicken Quarters
For the Maple Bourbon Glaze
- ½ cup bourbon
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 Tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tsp barbecue seasoning
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
For the Chicken
- 4 chicken quarters
- ¼ cup barbecue seasoning of choice
- ¼ cup light brown
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp fresh cracked pepper
For the Maple Bourbon Glaze
- Combine glaze ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10-15 minutes until reduced by half.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
For the Chicken
- Combine the barbecue seasoning, sugar, salt, and pepper. Rub all over the chicken.
- Set up your Big Green Egg, grill, or electric smoker to smoke at 275°F using indirect heat. In the Big Green Egg, do this either by using the convEggtor (legs pointed up) or 2 BGE half moon bake stones placed under the grill grate.
- Add the chicken, skin side up, to the cooker and smoke 1-1/2 hours or until internal temperature is 160°F.
- Flip the chicken over. Brush Maple Bourbon Glaze over the underside of the chicken and cook a couple minutes to set. Flip again, brush with glaze (chicken is now skin-side up), and cook a couple minutes to set the glaze. Brush the skin side of the chicken with glaze again and cook another couple minutes to set. Check temperature, chicken is done at 165F.
- Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes before serving.