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Cornell Chicken BBQ

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I really do not consider myself a food nerd, but any recipe that has origins in Upstate New York will always intrigue me. I have been testing and trying recipes and dishes that have ties to Upstate New York. And while I don’t usually like to play favorites this one ranks pretty high on my list of Upstate comfort foods I love.

Cornell chicken is probably the best-known version of chicken barbecue in Upstate New York, served at nearly every fireman’s chicken barbecue fundraiser with a side of salt potatoes. The scent of the vinegar based marinade and the warm, smokey charcoal BBQ billowing in the air on a summer day is truly a scent of summer, I am sure many Upstate New Yorkers are familiar with and have a hard time resisting.

The original Cornell chicken recipe and cooking technique PDF via Cornell Ecommons


Cornell Chicken BBQ

Cornell Chicken BBQ

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 45 minutes


  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon table salt
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 broiler chickens cut into quarters


  1. Whisk egg in a medium bowl until well beaten. Slowly add in the oil until fully blended. Then whisk in the vinegar, salt, poultry seasoning, and ground black pepper. Set aside about 1/3 of the sauce to use for basting while grilling. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag, and coat with sauce. Seal, and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. When ready to cook:
  3. Preheat the grill to a medium temperature, about 275 degrees F preferably over charcoal.
  4. Arrange the coated chicken on the preheated grill. Cook (covered) for 40 to 45 minutes or until cooked through, basting with the reserved sauce after 20 minutes. Cook until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.


The original recipe calls for a whopping 3 tablespoons of salt, this is just way too much salt for me and my family, so I have scaled it back to 1 tablespoon.

The Original Recipe which uses a barbecue pit, can easily be adapted to a regular home grill, either charcoal or gas, but charcoal you give you that distinct barbecue flavor. The original recipe was actually developed to by Dr.  Robert Baker, a  Cornell University professor (who also invented chicken nuggets) to help poultry producers sell more and younger birds, thus maximizing profits.  The marinade recipe he created, produces an exceptionally crispy chicken with  moist and flavorful meat. So without further ado here is my adaptation of a classic Upstate dish.

So without further ado here is my adaptation of a classic Upstate dish. I have closely followed the original recipe, but have scaled back the amount of salt in the marinade, to better suit my family’s needs.

References : Robert Baker Invented Chicken Nuggets, Turkey Burgers, and Cornell BBQ Robert C. Baker, Wikipedia

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