How to Cook Competition BBQ Chicken that Walks

How to Cook Competition BBQ Chicken 

How to Cook Competition Chicken – The Mind of a BBQ Judge

I’ve eaten a lot of competition BBQ chicken. My best guess for how many pieces of competition chicken I’ve tasted as an FBA and KCBS competition judge is around 300. Some of these BBQ chicken samples have been amazing, others really, really good, and a few well… let’s call them spitters. Or, as a buddy of mine likes to say, they were 3 or 4 cracker entries – meaning of course that you have to eat a handful of the saltine crackers provided to judges chased with water in order to get the taste out of your mouth.

If you’re reading this post on how to cook competition chicken, you’re likely wondering what we judges consider to be a top scoring yard bird sample. That’s really the trick, right? Here’s my take.

Here’s My Take on a Win Competition Chicken Entry

  1. Appearance: the entry should always be sauced, offering up a nice ‘clear coat’ of color.
  2. Taste: the sauce, injection, and rub should all combine to form a unified flavor profile.
  3. Tenderness: skin needs to have just a tiny hint of “presence” to it, but still be bite through.
  4. Tenderness: the chicken meat should offer just a little bit of bite resistance and offer up a little juice.

Chicken Appearance

Point one above about the sauce being more like a clear lacquer than a heavy coating is key.  Avoid leaving the chicken on the smoker too long after saucing. The time you use to “set” the sauce will vary depending on your temps. Just be sure to let “color” be your guide.