Smoky Chicken Sliders with White BBQ Sauce

A golden Northern Michigan craft beer marinade gives the chicken thighs for these Smoky Chicken Sliders succulent, pull-from-the-bone tenderness. The chicken is shredded, tossed with chopped bacon and lightly drizzled with a creamy white barbecue sauce. Then it’s loaded onto buttery, toasted artisan slider rolls over a bed of tangy homemade coleslaw and topped with crisp pickles.


For the Northern Michigan IPA Beer Marinade

1 bottle IPA beer, under 70 IBUs
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons brown sugar
4-6 garlic cloves, smashed
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 teaspoons salt and ground black peppercorn to taste

For the Peppercorn and Herb Dry Rub

½ cup ground black peppercorn
1½ tablespoons salt to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried mustard

For the Apple Beer Spray

1 cup apple juice
½ cup IPA beer

For the White BBQ Sauce

1 cup all-natural mayonnaise
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup white distilled vinegar
1 tablespoon horseradish
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon dried mustard
salt to taste
fresh ground peppercorn to taste
cayenne pepper to taste

For the Smoky Chicken Sliders

1.5 – 2kg boneless chicken thighs, trimmed
Northern Michigan IPA beer marinade
peppercorn and herb dry rub
340 – 450 g thick centre-cut bacon strips
handful apple wood chips
apple-beer spray
white BBQ sauce
coleslaw and pickle to garnish
12 slider rolls


  1. Pour beer, olive oil, mustard, brown sugar, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper into a pot and whisk until thoroughly combined.
  2. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes with the pot lid on until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool entirely.
  4. Place the chicken in a large zip-top bag.
  5. Pour in the marinade, ensuring the meat is completely covered. Refrigerate for 8 hours, up to overnight.
  6. In a food processor, pulse pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, oregano and mustard together. Set aside.
  7. Combine apple juice and beer in a spray bottle. Set aside.
  8. Whisk mayonnaise, apple cider vinegar, distilled vinegar, horseradish, lemon juice, garlic powder, sugar, mustard, salt, peppercorn and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside.
    HOT TIP – For thicker sauce, add 1 teaspoon mayonnaise. For thinner sauce, add 1 teaspoon water.
  9. Remove chicken from refrigerator and roll in a bed of dry rub. Then cover with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 2 hours.
  10. Roast bacon over rimmed baking sheet in 200°C preheated oven until crisp.
  11. Remove bacon from oven, place on paper towel-lined plate to cool.
  12. Roughly chop bacon and set aside.
  13. Preheat one-side of grill to 150°C for zonal grilling. Place wood chips over the hottest grill grates.
    HOT TIP – For the zonal cooking method, heat only one side of the grill, creating one hotter direct heat zone and one cooler indirect heat zone.
  14. Place chicken thighs on cooler side for indirect heat. Grill for 1 hour.
  15. While grilling, rotate chicken and spray intermittently with apple beer spray to keep exterior moist. When the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 70°C, turn all burners to max heat. Brush on layers of white bbq sauce until internal temperature reaches 75°C.
  16. Remove from grill and tent loosely with tin foil for 10-15 minutes.
  17. Using two forks, shred the meat and toss with white bbq sauce.
  18. Place chicken between two toasted buns, over coleslaw and top with sliced pickles.