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Perdue's Favorite Sweet and Smoky Chicken - A simple and delicious sweet and smokey BBQ chicken. The story goes that this was one of Frank Perdue's favorite recipes!

My husband Jack and I each came to our marriage with a large collection of cookbooks – and one from Jack’s collection was 365 Ways to Cook Chicken by Cheryl Sedaker. In that cookbook, the author states that a version of this Sweet and Smoky Chicken (which we’re sharing here with you today) was one of Frank Perdue’s favorite chicken recipes!

So with an endorsement like that – we HAD to try the recipe ourselves!  And…we love it too!

Perdue's Favorite Sweet and Smoky Chicken - A simple and delicious sweet and smokey BBQ chicken. The story goes that this was one of Frank Perdue's favorite recipes!

This sweet and smoky chicken has great flavors that come together from combining simple ingredients: ketchup, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard, plus some liquid smoke. (The original recipe called for hickory smoked salt – but we couldn’t find it at our supermarket. So instead, we swapped in some liquid smoke and kosher salt – both ingredients that are typically found in the spice aisle at your local supermarket. Or you can find it here.)

Perdue's Favorite Sweet and Smoky Chicken - A simple and delicious sweet and smokey BBQ chicken. The story goes that this was one of Frank Perdue's favorite recipes!

We also adapted the original recipe by cooking this sweet and smoky chicken on the grill. This sauce is really fantastic caramelized on the grill over high heat – and the chicken stays moist and juicy too! (As an alternative, you can bake this in the oven as the original recipe did – but we would recommend finishing the chicken under the broiler to crisp up the skin.)

On a side note – Jack told me that he had the honor of meeting and speaking with Frank Perdue himself, many years ago. Jack remembers him as an excellent person, and a tough businessman who knew a whole lot about chickens!   But as tough as he was – Jack found him to be very cordial and funny, and a great pleasure to meet!

Recipe adapted from an earlier edition of 365 Ways to Cook Chicken: Simply the Best Chicken Recipes You’ll Find Anywhere!

Interested in more chicken recipes?
Click here for our 100+ Best Chicken Recipes.

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Perdue’s Favorite Sweet and Smokey Chicken - A Family Feast

Perdue’s Favorite Sweet and Smoky Chicken

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 mins
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: grilled, roasted
  • Cuisine: American


  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Few grinds fresh black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil for grill grates
  • Sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt


  1. Preheat your grill to about 425-450 degrees.
  2. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the skin of the chicken breasts.
  3. Brush the vegetable oil over the grill grates and place the chicken skin side down. Do not touch for 2 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Then move the breasts to an upper rack of the grill, close the cover and cook for ten minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, mix ketchup, maple syrup, vinegar, mustard, liquid smoke and salt.
  5. Brush on sauce to coat, close cover and cook for ten more minutes.
  6. Check for doneness by poking meat. If it springs back, it is done.
  7. Remove from grill and brush on more sauce.
  8. Serve remaining sauce with chicken.

Keywords: Perdue's Favorite Sweet and Smoky Chicken

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

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  • Annie wrote:

    Hi Martha, I came by your recipes by mishap and boy was that a trophy I have been hitting the goal every since a lot of your recipes are low Maintaince but those that aren’t you can adapt to your methods I love that chicken stroganoff , and the Tyson grilled chicken and those dressing are out of this world thanks so much to you and your hubby for sharing

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Annie – we’re glad you found us!

  • laura stephens wrote:

    This was delicious! It was very easy and I always have all these ingredients in my pantry! Everyone loved it! I adore this blog!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks so much Laura!

  • Nancy wrote:

    The original recipe was baked and cooked on a bed of onions with the sauce. Still one of my favorite recipes from the Delmarva. I think I still have the original recipe someplace.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for letting us know Nancy! It sounds equally delicious! (If you find the recipe, we’d love to see it!)

  • Kathy wrote:

    What are the oven directions?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kathy – We’ve had best luck grilling this recipe but you can bake it in the oven (same 425-450 degrees) until the chicken is cooked through (time will vary based on the size of the pieces of chicken). You might want to put the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes just before the chicken is cooked through to brown and caramelize the skin. Hope that helps!

  • Dawn S. wrote:

    I made this last weekend on our big green egg and it was so delicious! I absolutely loved the sauce. I will definitely be putting this into my dinner rotation. Thanks for sharing!

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you enjoyed the recipe Dawn!

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