Five-Spice BBQ Chicken with Hoisin-Maple Glaze


BBQ Chicken on Grill

BBQ Chicken on Grill

By Cat, Jul 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Growing up in rural Montana, I had no opportunities to try Chinese food and its wonderful flavors. But when I moved to Portland, the plethora of new Schezuan restaurants like Pot Sticker Sizzling Rice in Portland’s old town, introduced me to Chinese cuisine. Later, an influx of immigrants from SE Asia introduced me to Tai and Vietnamese foods.

Notes on ingredients

Five-Spice is named for the “five flavors” (sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty). If you cannot find this at your local grocer or natural food store, you can make your own. See Herbs & Spices: Blends for suggestions.

Hoisin sauce is sometimes called plum sauce, but it usually does not include plums. Instead, it is made with soy paste, red chiles, various spices, and garlic; vinegar and sugar are often included.

Five-Spice BBQ Chicken with Hoisin-Maple Glaze

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), originally by Bruce Aidells. Now that I have a good idea how to use my charcoal grill (from testing the above recipe), I’m going to give this recipe a try, perhaps with 1 cornish game hen.

I prefer to brine the chicken breasts (or the whole game hen), so I’ve reduced the amount of soy sauce accordingly. If using chicken, cut the bird into individual pieces; if using game hen, halve by cutting to removebackbone, then cutting through the breast.

I highly recommend using Tamari sauce instead of regular soy sauce, as Tamari is fermented which resolves many of the health issues associated with soy.

Tips from Mr Aidells:

  • Indirect grilling is a must for bone-in chicken so the meat can cook through before the outside burns.
  • Don’t add glaze until just before it’s ready, or the glaze will burn; watch for flareups once the glaze is on.

The original serves 4 – 6; I’ve modified to serve 2 – 3, and upgraded a few of the ingredients.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • Chicken/Game Hen:
  • bone-in chicken pieces from half of a whole chicken (legs, wings, breasts), or whole game hen, halved
  • 2 Tbsp light olive oil or Organic cold-pressed peanut oil
  • Spice Rub:
  • 1 Tbsp Rapadura sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • ½ Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ Tbsp minced fresh garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 1 – 1 ½ tsp chinese five-spice powder
  • ½ tsp ground fennel seed
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Glaze:
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Grade-B pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp Tamari sauce (or Braggs Aminos)
  • 1/2 Tbsp local honey (or molasses if you used Rapadura sugar in the rub)
  • 1 tsp Asian sesame oil
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger root
  • Equipment:
  • Small bowl
  • baking dish
  • brush
  • gas or charcoal grill


  1. Brine the breasts of the chicken for 30 minutes (see brining chicken), or brine whole game hen for 20 minutes (see brining game hens). Remove from brine, rinse and pat dry.
  2. Spice Rub: Combine sugar and herbs/spices in small bowl, then rub all over the pieces (reserve bowl for glaze). Place in glass baking dish, cover and refrigerate for more than 6 hours (overnight is great).
  3. Prepare charcoal or gas grill. for indirect cooking (see instructions for Honey BBQ chicken, above).
  4. Glaze: While grill is heating, prepare glaze by combining the ingredients in the small bowl.
  5. Grill: Lightly brush chicken with oil, and arrange skin-side down on grill, directly over the heat. Cover and cook until grill marks form, 3 – 5 min. If flames flare, move affected pieces away from direct heat. Flip the pieces (skin side up) and cook 2 min more.
  6. Move pieces to the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook, occasionally rearranging to ensure even heating, until breast registers 165° F, thighs 170° F with instant-read thermometer, 30 – 45 min.
  7. Generously brush glaze on pieces, and flip skin-side down over the hotter side of the grill. Brush more glaze the upper side. side. Cook only 30 – 60 seconds more and remove immediately. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Assembly or Serving ideas

  • Serve with steamed brown or white rice, lightly steamed or braised snap or snow peas with cauliflower florets, and a salad of greens with tomato, goat cheese and balsamic dressing.
  • Ginger ice cream would make a great dessert.


  1. Fine Cooking recipe originally by Bruce Aidells (

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