Vinegar Chicken

Along with chicken wings, that famed Buffalo juggernaut, there is another famous treat served at countless outdoor events in the Queen City.

It’s known as Chiavetta’s barbecued chicken. Ahh, the smell of smoky, vinegary chicken dripping onto lit charcoal reminds me of the joys of a Western New York. If you get to the New York State Fair, you will also know it as State Fair Chicken.

This recipe will make it easy to grill at home, or even simpler — I like to bake ’n’ broil a batch. It takes only minutes to prepare the marinade.

I just made this in my air fryer—25 minutes at 360º—I got crisp, succulent chicken! I can honestly say this beats the slow grill method and it becomes a dish that will go into your chicken rotation

I crafted this marinade to approximate the original; or you might want to locate Chiavetta’s online or at many supermarkets in the East. The marinade is clear and designed to delight with a crispy finish. It can be eaten with knife and fork or out-of-hand, like chicken wings. It’s equally delicious as a cold picnic or lunch treat.

RECIPE:  Serves 4-6

  • 8 thighs or a cut-up roasting chicken. Also good: split breasts with bone in and skin on.


  • vegetable oil- 1/4 cup, neutral
  • apple cider vinegar- 1/2 cup
  • salt- 1 TBS.
  • poultry seasoning- 2 tsp., or Italian blend, or taco seasoning [I love zatar spice from the Middle East]
  • pepper- 1/2 tsp., fresh ground is best


Make marinade.

Pierce the skin-side of chicken with tip of paring knife; five or six times per piece.

Also known as State Fair Chicken

Place chicken in a large resealable bag and pour in marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 3-6 hours, flipping the bag occasionally. I like a strong flavor and go for 6 hours. My sister likes a lighter flavor — 3 hours.


Place chicken on indirect heat to slowly render the fat, [325ºF/163ºC]. Flip chicken every 7-8 minutes and cook about 40-45 minutes. When almost done, move pieces over direct flame, skin side down to crisp, about 5 minutes more. Don’t wander from this task.


Place pieces skin side up in one layer in a baking dish. Bake at [325ºF/163ºC] for 40-45 minutes, then turn broiler on for 5 – 7 minutes. Broil until skin is golden-crisp. Don’t wander from this task.


Place pieces of chicken skin side up in the fryer basket and spray the top with oil. Fry at 360º for 20 minutes, then 400º for 5 minutes to crisp the skin.



This is great reheated, cold, or at room temperature. Pull off the bone; It fits right into a chicken salad, cold or hot pasta, or to boost rice dishes as a tangy addition.

I stock my freezer with a couple bags of cooked Vinegar Chicken, always at-the-ready.


Grilling or baking chicken is best achieved by low and slow heat with a final flourish of direct heat to crisp the skin. Unlike beef, chicken is best cooked slowly to prevent dry results. This newer approach is in reverse of the traditional method of searing and then cooking.

Here is a link to a story on the origin of this famed sauce. The original includes raw egg {as an emulsifier], which is not included in the recipe I adapted. — B.H.

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