North Carolina Cheerwine Barbecued Chicken Recipe

North Carolina Cheerwine Barbecued Chicken Recipe

North Carolina may not be the first state you think of when you hear the word chicken. Indeed, Kentucky has a bit of a monopoly on the bird. However, North Carolina is the home of a fantastic recipe using locally produced soft drink Cheerwine to bring an intriguing cherry twist.

Since the US is the country with the highest meat consumption and is well known for its soft drinks, it’s no wonder that at some point along the way, someone would create a recipe combining the two. And, as chicken makes a good canvas for flavors, it makes a natural choice for experimentation.

Cheerwine was first invented in 1917 in Salisbury, North Carolina and uses a wild cherry flavor from St Louis amongst other ingredients to create a distinctive drink. Over the last 100 years, the drink has changed subtly form the branding to diversifying flavors. But it has to be said that Cheerwine is really at it’s best when combined with chicken.

While a Cheerwine barbecued chicken may not be your idea of fine dining, this recipe is definitely worth trying.

There are a few variations on the recipe so feel free to experiment with the ingredients. This recipe is the foundation for what you will read here with a few alterations and simplifications.

As the Cheerwine is high in sugar, do make sure that you cook away from direct heat to avoid accidentally burning the sauce.  

North Carolina Cheerwine Barbecued Chicken Recipe

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 12 people

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken thighs fillets and wings work well too

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup Cheerwine
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Instructions

Make the sauce

  1. Melt the butter, add in the onion and garlic and allow to cook slowly for about 3 minutes to soften.
  2. Add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.
  3. As soon as you see bubbles, drop the temperature and allow the sauce to simmer gently.
  4. It takes about 30 minutes for the sauce the thicken nicely.

Now for the Chicken

  1. Put the chicken into a large bowl and add in most of the sauce, reserving around a ¼ cup for basting later.
  2. Make sure that the chicken is completely covered and then chill for around an hour.
  3. Light your barbecue using coals on just one side.
  4. Place your chicken on the other side of the barbecue and cover.
  5. Cook for around 40 minutes turning the chicken halfway.
  6. Now uncover the chicken and move it closer to the heat.
  7. Cook for a further 20 minutes, basting with the extra sauce every 5-10 minutes.
  8. The chicken is ready when it reaches 165 degrees.

Cheerwine Barbecued chicken is a great alternative recipe at a barbecue party and goes really well with slaw and salad. You can do all the preparations the day before and the sauce will keep well in the fridge for up to a week. This makes planning a lot easier and when your guests arrive, you will be ready to go straight away.

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