Beer-Brined Butterflied Chicken

This time of year calls for BBQ's, BBQ's and more BBQ's. For something different that's guaranteed to impress, try your hand at a whole butterflied chicken. Soaking it in brine beforehand will ensure tender and succulent results!


  • 1 chicken (already butterflied unless you're confident with poultry shears!)
  • 3/4 cup salt (+ extra 1/2 tsp)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar (+ extra 1/2 tsp)
  • 1 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 6 crumbled bay leaves
  • 2 cans cold lager
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • Large pinch dried oregano
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil


  1. In a large bowl, combine the 3/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon pepper, and bay leaves. Add 4 cups very hot water and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the beer and stir well to remove the carbonation. Add about 4 cups ice cubes to cool the brine rapidly. When the ice has melted and the brine is cool, put the chicken in the brine, adding more cold water if needed to cover. Refrigerate, covered, for 2 to 4 hours.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the extra 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp. brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. pepper with the paprika, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and cayenne.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and let it air dry for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, build a charcoal fire or heat a gas BBQ with all burners on high. For a charcoal BBQ, when the charcoal is covered with a white-gray ash, divide it into two piles and set a drip pan between the coals. For a gas BBQ, turn the burners that will be directly underneath the chicken off and the other burners to medium. (If your BBQ has only two burners, turn one off and set the other one at medium. You may need to rotate the chicken periodically so that both sides brown.)
  4. When ready to cook, if the chicken is still very wet, blot it dry with paper towels. Brush or rub both sides of the chicken with the oil and sprinkle with the spice mixture. Tuck the wingtips under the breast. Set the chicken, skin side up, in the center of the grill (or not directly over the heat). Cover and cook until the juices run clear. This usually takes about 40 to 50 minutes.
  5. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before cutting it into quarters and serving.