I have tried firecracker chicken in a few restaurants and I have to say, I have been disappointed every time. The reason being is because the heat level wasn’t to the level of “firecracker” that I played it up to be in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, the food was good but I was expecting to feel the heat. 

This led me to play around on the grill to create my own recipe. The recipe involves a marinade and a brine, this helps create a moist and flavorful chicken that is well worth the time. Following the chicken up with brown sugar and a cayenne dry rub with a hickory wood smoke session for a firecracker explosion of firecracker and juicy chicken. smoked firecracker chicken on the grill

What is firecracker chicken? Well, it is a spin-off of the Firecracker noodles. They are full of flavor with a deep, spicy and sweet heat that consists of contrasting textures. There have been many people who make it differently and add their own little twist along the way. This is why recipes are fun, it allows us to have creative liberty and we get to eat them.

Okay, let’s jump into the recipe!

firecracker chicken dry rub

Grilled Firecracker Chicken

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8


  • 2 lbs Chicken or  8-12 drum legs
  • 1 gallon Buttermilk (depending on the amount of chicken)
  • Parsley for garnishing

Firecracker Marinade

  • 10 oz Franks red hot
  • ½ cup Soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • cup Apple cider vinegar
  • cup Chopped scallions
  • 2 tbsp Garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper
  • 2 tsp Cayenne pepper

Firecracker Dry Rub

  • ¼ cup Brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Chili powder
  • 2 tsp Garlic powder
Keyword easy chicken recipe, easy spicy chicken recipe, firecracker chicken, spicy chicken recipe, spicy firecracker chicken


  1. Start off by prepping all of your chicken drum legs by scoring three diagonal cuts along the drum leg. This allows the marinade to penetrate deeper into the chicken for more flavor. Now add to a gallon-sized zip-lock bag or storage container you use for marinating.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl add all of your marinade ingredients: Hot sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, garlic paste, chopped scallions, kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. Whisk for 2-3 minutes and allow the ingredients to combine together. 
  3. Pour 1/2 of your marinade into the zip lock bag (keep the other 1/2 of the marinade, this will be used to baste the drum legs during the cooking)  with the chicken drum legs and seal that it is airtight. Hand toss for a minute or two and place in the fridge for one day. The next day, remove the chicken from the marinade and add it to another marinade container and pour your buttermilk in until it is all covered. Let sit for 12-24 hours. 
  4. The next day, remove the chicken and wash it and let sit out for 30 minutes in room temperature conditions. Now pat dry and take to your seasoning station. Combine all the dry rub ingredients into a mixing bowl: Brown sugar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder and garlic powder, hand mix until it is nicely combined. firecracker chicken dry rub on wings
  5. Have the drum legs ready and spray them with duck fat, this is used as a binder and you can use other sources of a binder such as mustard or canola oil, and season the chicken generously until the whole drum leg is coated evenly. Do this for everyone and let them sit for 30 minutes, this allows the chicken to absorb the seasoning. 
  6. During this time, fire up your smoker and get the temp at 300-325 degrees. Once the temperature is set add a few chunks of hickory wood chunks for a nice hint of smoke.
  7. Add the drum legs and smoke for 30 minutes and turn, once you turn them baste with a layer of the firecracker marinade liquid we saved from the beginning. After another 20-25 minutes flip the drum legs and baste a layer of the firecracker marinade. You can do as many layers of the basting that you want but I am looking for a nice deep red color. 
  8. When the drum legs reach an internal temp of 165 remove and rest for 15-20 minutes in a sealed place. I typically do this by applying aluminum foil on top. 
  9. Plate and garnish with parsley.
  10. Enjoy with family and friends! 



    Chicken Recipes

    Items used in This Recipe

    Hasty-Bake Grill

    Knitted Gloves

    Cast Iron Skillet 

    Meater +

    Charcoal Chimney

    Charcoal Starters

    Firestarter Guard

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