Cornell Chicken 4.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Smoke Signals Sep 27, 2017

A staple at fundraising events by civic organizations and volunteer fire departments in the Finger Lakes area of New York as well as barbecue restaurants there, this chicken is a vinegar-based creation of a professor at Cornell University in the late 1940s. The basting sauce, mixed with eggs and cooking oil, creates a creamy texture and tangy flavor that mates beautifully with yard birds.

Here, the recipe is adapted for easy cooking, deploying the sauce as a marinade and using leg quarters for uniform cooking.

You’ll need an instant-read thermometer.

To read the accompanying story, see: The grilled-chicken recipe so brilliant it’s got an Ivy League name.

Make Ahead: The chicken needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

4 - 8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4-8 servings

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (may substitute peanut oil)
  • 2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup store-bought or homemade poultry seasoning blend (see NOTE)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
  • 4 chicken leg quarters (drumstick plus thigh)


Beat the eggs in medium bowl until blended, then whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream, to form a thickened mixture. Whisk in the vinegar, then the poultry seasoning; if you are using a store-bought seasoning blend, add the optional salt and pepper.

Pour into a gallon zip-top bag, then add the chicken quarters and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Massage the pieces through the bag; refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 8 hours.

Transfer the bag of chicken and marinade to the counter; let it sit at room temperature for about 1 hour before grilling.

Prepare the grill for indirect heat. If using a gas grill, turn the heat to high (450 to 500 degrees). Once the grill is preheated (about 10 minutes), reduce the heat to medium (375 to 400 degrees). Turn off the burners on one side.

If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or briquettes; when the coals are ready, distribute them to one side of the grill. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand 6 inches above the coals for 6 or 7 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames.

Place the chicken quarters skin sides up on the indirect-heat side of the grill; discard the marinade. Close the grill lid and open its vents halfway. Cook for about 40 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees, turning the chicken as needed. For crispy skin and a little char, move the chicken, skin side down, directly over the coals for the last 3 to 5 minutes before removing it from the grill.

Serve warm.

NOTE: To make 1/4 cup of your own poultry seasoning blend, stir together 2 tablespoons fine kosher salt, 1 tablespoons ground sage, 1 tablespoon dried marjoram, 1 tablespoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon celery seed, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper in a small container.

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Recipe Source

From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.

Tested by Andy Sikkenga.

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