port a pit chicken recipes

If you love barbecue food, then you have probably had your fair share of port-a-pit chicken. With the right recipe and a little bit of practice, you can recreate this mouth-watering meal at home.

With the warmer weather fast approaching, I want to share with you my favorite recipes and techniques for making homemade port-a-pit chicken from scratch. Have a look through the recipes in this list to find the one for you, and get barbecuing!

Origins of Port-a-Pit Chicken

Nelson Gongwer invented port-a-pit chicken over 45 years ago in Wakarusa. He started his very successful barbecue business to promote poultry meals in new and interesting ways, which is how Nelson’s famous port-a-pit chicken was created.

The port-a-pit system of barbequing took off in 1967 in the catering business, and at home, barbecuers have been trying to perfect their pitting skills ever since. It is a North American barbecue system that has slowly trickled into other places in the world.

So here are a couple of port-a-pit recipes for you to duplicate at home.

Original Port-a-Pit Copycat


  • 1 lb butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 lbs chicken of your choice (leg, thighs, wings)


  • The first thing you should do is to make the marinade. Mix the salt, butter, water, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and black pepper together into a mixing bowl.
  • Massage the marinade into the chicken pieces and leave them to rest for an hour.
  • Once the chicken pieces have been left to rest for an hour, you can bake them in the oven for 30 minutes on 325-degree heat.
  • Barbecue your chicken in your port-a-pit system or in your oven grill until cooked through.


Gold Glow Port-a-Pit Chicken Recipe


  • 7 lbs chicken legs
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 lbs margarine
  • 4 tbsp kosher salt
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp black pepper
  • 5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp stone house seasoning
  • 1 tsp hot sauce


  • Clean and trim the chicken legs and place them into a bowl.
  • Make the marinade by mixing 4 cups of water, 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 lb of margarine, 4 tsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp of garlic powder, 3 tbsp of black pepper, and 5 tbsp of Worcestershire Sauce in a saucepan and cooking over medium heat. Make sure you stir the marinade constantly to avoid it burning.
  • Once the liquid has boiled, take it off the heat and let it cool completely.
  • Half the marinade, use one half of the sauce to marinate the chicken legs, and keep the other half for basing while barbecuing.
  • Once the chicken has been marinating for between one to 24 hours, heat the grill or put coles on your port-a-pit, and start grilling.
  • Baste the chicken legs as you see fit throughout the process.
  • Serve once the chicken legs have cooked through.

How to Make Your Own BBQ Pit AKA the Port-a-Pit System

I want to teach you how to make your own barbecue pit. Building your own pit doesn’t have to be complicated, so if you are new to pitting, I suggest you keep the pit as simple as possible for your own comfort.

Making a barbecue pit looks far more authentic and rustic than the wheel-in barbecues that you can purchase at your local garden center, that is for sure. Plan where you want your pit to be located before beginning your build because once it is built you won’t be able to move it around your garden.

1. Choose a Safe Location

Location is one of the most important factors to consider when making your own port-a-pit system. The pit needs to be placed far away from trees and vegetation that could get burnt and damaged by the fire.

2. Decide on the Pit you Want

There are lots of different types of port-a-pit systems and designs for you to choose from. I like the shallow ground pit system because I feel like it is the safest, most convenient, and easiest system to build. This guide will teach you how to make a shallow port-a-pit system.

3. Make a Plan

Sketch out and plan the size of the pit you wish to build. That way, you will be able to estimate how many bricks you will need and the size of the grill that you should buy.

4. Gather Your Tools

Make sure that you have all of the tools and equipment that you need ready and waiting before you make a start. There is nothing worse than leaving a half-finished pit in your backyard!

5. Dig a Hole

Now it is time to start building! Dig a hole as deep as the long side of the bricks you have bought.

6. Secure the Sides with Bricks

Now you need to secure the sides of the pit with bricks. Stand the bricks up against the pit walls and connect them with cement, or using the building method of your choice.

7. Make Sure it is Level

Check to see if the standing bricks that now make up the wall of your pit are level. This should be done before the cement has dried so that you can make alternations to your building work.

8. Secure the Grill

Once you are happy with your barbecue pit’s size, shape, and aesthetics, you can secure the grill on top.

9. Finishing Touches

I recommend laying slabs down next to the tips so that the grass doesn’t get burnt and you can’t slip on any loose soil. This is entirely optional; however, a highly recommended step in the process.

You May Also Like: Beer Can Chicken


Q: How should I reheat Port-a-Pit chicken?
A: You can reheat chicken in the microwave or cook it on the grill. Make sure that the chicken is hot all the way through to avoid getting an upset stomach.

Q: How long should you grill chicken?
A: The cooking time will highly depend on the size of the chicken that is being grilled. On average, chicken legs and wings take between seven to 10 minutes to grill. If you are worried about burning your chicken, you can cook it in the oven until it is almost cooked and grill it to get that grilled flavor.

Q: Should I grill chicken with or without the grill cover?
A: It is best practice to grill chicken with the grill cover down, but this isn’t a rule set in stone.

Q: How do I know if my barbecue chicken is cooked?
A: Using a meat thermometer is a crucial part of the process. White meat is usually cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. You should always measure the internal temperature of meat products to ensure that they have been cooked through and are safe for consumption.

Q: How can I prevent the grilled chicken from drying out?
A: Soaking chicken in a marinade before grilling it will keep it moist and succulent. Marinades are great for flavoring meat products prior to cooking, regardless of whether you want to grill or bake your meat.

Q: Should I oil chicken before grilling or barbecuing it?
A: Yes, you should oil chicken before barbecuing or grilling it, even if it has been marinated. Base the chicken with the leftover marinade as it cooks to keep it moist and succulent.

Q: How long should I leave the chicken to rest before cutting into it?
A: Chicken breast or other large sections of chicken should be left to rest for half an hour before cutting. Whole birds may need much longer than an hour. It is important to let meat rest for a good amount of time before cutting and serving to let the juices soak back into the meat.

Q: Can chicken be a little bit pink?
A: No, under no circumstances should you serve or eat pink chicken. Pink chicken can cause serious health problems such as food poisoning and salmonella. If you think that the chicken is a bit raw, put it back on the barbecue or in the oven for a few more minutes and check again.

Q: How do I know that my barbecue is hot enough?
A: Light the barbecue for about 20 to 30 minutes before you start cooking meat on it. This will ensure that the barbecue is at the right temperature and hot enough to kill harmful bacteria that may be lurking on the uncooked meat. Being patient and taking your time cooking meat is key to making it taste good, and more importantly, safe for consumption. Being a professional barbecuer takes time and practice, but it sure is fun learning new barbecuing skills along the way!


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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