Ginger-Garlic Chicken with Rib Ninja

For a marinade that’s whisked together in minutes, this one delivers incredible ginger, garlic, and umami flavors and creates a beautiful lacquered crust. To make prep even easier, ask your butcher to split the chicken for you, and save the backbone for stock. The ambient heat of the grill roasts the chicken halves evenly, crisps the skin, and adds that distinctive charcoaled flavor.

For this recipe, it’s important to maintain a moderate temperature of 325-350 F so the ginger and garlic paste skin don’t burn. Japanese whiskey is fun, and thematically fun here, but feel free to use your favorite variety.

Ginger-Garlic Chicken with Rib Ninja

Serves 4

Serve this chicken with steamed rice, sauteed Asian greens or grilled broccoli, and pickled vegetables on the side. 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Japanese whisky
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fermented Korean chile paste (gochujang)
  • 1 tablespoon Rib Ninja seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • One 4- to 4 ½ pound chicken, split in half lengthwise

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the tamari, whiskey, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, gochujang, Rib Ninja and salt to make a marinade. Place the chicken halves in a baking dish. Pour three-quarters of the marinade over the chicken and reserve the rest. Use your hands to coat the entire surface of the chicken pieces with the marinade (flipping them three or four times as you go). Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the grill.

Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium fire. When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, clean the grill. Place the chicken halves skin-side down over direct heat, close the grill, vent the grill for smoking, and cook for about 35-40 minutes, flipping the chickens every 8 to 10 minutes, and brushing on more marinade after each turn. The chickens are done when they are very juicy, the meat pulls easily away from the bone, and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken leg reads 175 F.

Allow the chickens to rest at least 10 minutes (or up to 30), then transfer to a cutting board and cut into serving portions; serve immediately with any juices drizzled over the top.

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