Brandy-Brined Rotisserie Chickens

Brandy Brined Rotisserie Chicken

Other Recipes from Episode 408: Barbecue Takes Flight


Brandy-Brined Rotisserie Chickens

Recipe Notes

  • Advance Prep: 12 to 24 hours for brining the birds
  • Yield: Serves: 3 to 4
  • Method: Spit-roasting


  • 2 small chickens (preferably hens), 2 to 3 pounds each

For the Brine:

  • 1 cup sea salt 
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 quart hot water
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 cup brandy or cognac
  • 4 strips lemon zest (each 1/2 by 1-1/2 inches—remove them with a vegetable peeler)
  • 10 to 12 juniper berries
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 branches fresh thyme

For the garlic sage butter:

  • 6 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • A handful of fresh sage leaves (about 1/4 cup)

You'll Also Need:

  • A rotisserie set-up; butcher’s string; 2 aluminum foil drip pans; 2 to 3 oak wood chunks or 1 1/2 cups of smoking chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes, then drained

Recipe Steps

1: Remove any giblets from the chickens and rinse well inside and out. 

2: Make the brine: Place the salt, honey and hot water in a stockpot.  Bring to a boil, and whisk until the ingredients are completely dissolved. Whisk in the cold water, cognac, lemon zest, juniper berries, bay leaves, and thyme, and let cool to room temperature.

3: Add the chickens, placing a saucepan, bag of ice, or a dinner plate on top to keep the birds submerged.   Brine the birds for 12 to 24 hours.

4: Set up your grill for spit-roasting and heat to medium-high. Arrange the drip pans underneath the grill grate to catch drippings from the roasting birds.

5: Drain the chickens well and blot dry with paper towels. Tuck the wings behind the backs and truss the birds with butcher’s string.   Thread the birds from side to side onto the spit, one pointing one direction, one pointing the other. Secure them with the rotisserie prongs.

6: In the meantime, make the garlic sage butter: Melt the butter in a skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage leaves; cook until the sage is fried and the butter is aromatic. Keep warm.

7: Place the wood or smoking chips on the coals or in the smoker box. Spit-roast the chickens until darkly browned and cooked through, 60 to 80 minutes—the internal temperature in the deepest part of the thigh should be 165 to 170 degrees.   Occasionally baste the birds with the garlic sage butter.

8: Transfer the birds to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.  Remove and discard the trussing string.  

9: Carve each bird and serve, if desired, with the Grilled Polenta and the remaining sage garlic butter.

Recipe Tips

Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Fire Season 4:

Crowd Cow
Kalamazoo Grill Nomad Grill
Start N Grill Workman Publishing

Steven Raichlen’s Project Fire is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2022 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein