Charcoal Barbecue Chicken


Spring catapulted me into summer fairly quickly. Frankly, way too fast since winning the Edible Communities, Reader's Choice, Eddy's Award for Best Healthful Recipe for my Gluten Intelligence article for Edible East End. Time seems to spiral out of control, when in fact, it is me playing a game of twister to just catch-up.

I tend to take on more than I can chew, what can I say? There has been plenty of: nibbling, spiralizing, sipping homemade concoctions, rooftop and herb garden tending, spending time with family, and mingling with friends who know a thing or two about barbecuing over a coal fired grill.


For a Summer Solstice Potluck I purchased a Char-Griller Super Pro to kick-off warm weather grilling, just in time for the 4th of July. I was so excited about my new toy that I put the grill together myself —in the middle of a 90° sunny day— with a little bit of coaching from my husband Chris along the way. He gave me a "B" for trying my best; skimming over the user manual is not recommended for first-timers like me who learned the hard way what a cotter pin, hex nut and ratchet is used for. Besides a few flubs and bumps the grill was intact and ready-to-grill. 

Charcoal grilling is an art. I observed, tasted and was taught by my friend Steve Schwab who is an avid grill master. His wife Andra who is my childhood friend, stated how he "mans" the grill at home. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to learn the proper way of barbecuing. 

I think the technique of grilling is 75% the key to a phenomenal juicy and flavorful meat; a good marinade, carefully sourced meat and select natural wood chips, drives it home. This may sound trite, or like I'm overly sensationalizing, but I had an "aha" moment of mind and tastebuds saying, "whatever was made, do it again".

This is the best BBQ I have ever had.  

Are you grilling your chicken to a black pulp? If so, stop! Embrace a slow cooked indirect flame that will keep you barbecuing all year round.

Charcoal Barbecue Chicken


Note: You can freeze the back bones and necks for chicken stock. 


  • 1/2 cup agave
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 4 limes; squeezed
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1/4 cup; cilantro chopped
  • 1 teaspoon; dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon; worcestershire
  • 1 teaspoon; ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup; chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons of sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon; spanish paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper

    Note: Here is a nifty herb and food pairing guide by Personal Creations

    For the Grill
  • 8 pounds of charcoal
  • 3 cups of apple wood

    Note: apple wood imparts a mild fruity flavor that is not overly strong
  • Bucket of water
  • Crumpled balls of paper
  • Kindling twigs
  • Matches


  1. Cut up the whole chicken in parts and place in a shallow dish.
  2. Place all marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.
  3. Pour over chicken and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. The lime will begin to tenderize the chicken.
  4. Place crumpled balls of paper on bottom of the grill rack. Then place the kindling twigs on top.
  5. Arrange the charcoal around the edges of the kindling and paper. Light the paper and kindling to allow the edges of the charcoal to burn.
  6. Meanwhile, soak the wood chips in a bucket of water for 30 minutes. By that time the charcoal should be a grey ash color.

    Note: optimal temperature for grilling is 275° - 300°. My grill has a temperature gauge.
  7. Push all charcoal to one end of the grill and leave space where charcoal is to work the flame.
  8. Then place the chicken on oiled/sprayed flavor bars on the opposite side and skin side up; breast meat should be the furthest from the flame towards the back.
  9.  After 30 minutes, place 2 handfuls of wood chips. (do this every 20 minutes).  
  10. Close the lid and be sure to check frequently. Do not turn the meat and cook until golden brown.
  11. Chicken can take 1 - 1.5 hours to cook; if you have a temperature gauge it should reach 165°.