Award winning Chicken Marinade


Dale Groetsema

TVWBB Super Fan
Well folks,
It's about time I shared something with this board as it has helped me a lot. This marinade, as simple as it is, has helped me win several trophies and cash this year. It is just part of the overall recipe, but I think starting with a good marinade is a great first step towards good chicken.

One 16 oz bottle of Newman's Italian dressing
1 "drop" of hot sauce per piece of chicken
16 thighs

pour half of dressing into each of two zip lock bags. Sprinkle 8 drops of hot sauce. I use Belinda's habanero. Mix well.

Add chicken and marinate for 8 hours on ice. Shuffle bag every 2 hours to ensure even coverage.

Take the chicken out of the marinade, let air dry for 30 minutes (or dab off excess marinade with paper towels). Apply rub, and cook in 225 degree smoker for 4 hours, starting with skin side down. Turn over pieces at two hour mark. Baste with sauce during last hour.

As I said, simple.

I would think that in grilling, you have to be careful about the oil in the marinade--could cause flareups. I have "grilled" in the sense that I put a full chimney of lit charcoal in the WSM, with no water pan and got it up to 350 or so at the dome. Takes a lot less time, tastes pretty good, but not much smoke flavor. I guess I would add some liquid smoke to the marinade if you want the smoky flavor. I know--liquid smoke is heresy.

Don, as for my rub--hmmm, I know a couple teams use my marinade and apply their own rub and sometimes they beat me and sometimes I beat them.

Here is one that I have used with some success.

1 TBL Kosher Salt
1 TBL Cracked Tellicherry Black Pepper
1 TBL finely diced lemon peel
1 TBL finely diced orange peel
1 TBL ground allspice
1 TBL ground hungarian paprika
1 tsp garlic powder

This recipe has salt at about 15% of the mix. However, know your audience. If they like salt--such as in Omaha, then I would add 1-2 TBL additional salt to this recipe.

Also, a dash or two of Tender Quick if you want a noticble smoke ring.


Is there any difference marinating on ice vs. marinating in the fridge? Or is that marinating on ice in the fridge? If so why the ice?

Dale is using this marinade at competitions and under those conditionds he doesn't have a refrigerator available so he uses ice. At home he is using the frig I'm willing to bet.
Jim is right. At competitions, only ice is available. The point I was trying to make is that you want to keep the chicken and the marinade cold during the process--for safety reasons mostly and because I think a warm marinade might "over" tenderize the chicken to a mush.

Did I read your rub recipe right in that you are using 1 Tablespoon of Allspice. Doesn't that get a little overpowering. I have used allspice in small quantities and it has appeared overpowering then.