Cornell Barbecue Chicken Sauce

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  • Total: 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: about 3 1/3 cups (48 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
45 Calories
5g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: about 3 1/3 cups (48 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 6%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 4mg 1%
Sodium 439mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 2mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is the famous barbecue sauce created at Cornell University's Farm Home Extension in the 1950s by Professor Dr. Robert C. Baker. He was looking for a way to increase the consumption of small chickens to help out the poultry farmers and developed a barbecue recipe that has become a mainstay in central New York State. He opened Baker's Chicken Coop, a food stand at Syracuse's summertime New York State Fair, that has sold more than 1 million Cornell barbecue chickens over the past 60 plus years. He also published a bulletin, "Barbecued Chicken and Other Meats," which includes this recipe as well as others, in addition to instructions on how to build your own outdoor pit grill. But don't worry—this recipe works just as well on a charcoal grill.

What makes this marinade and basting sauce different from other barbecue sauces is the egg. When emulsified with the vinegar and oil it develops a thick consistency, similar to mayonnaise. This sticks nicely to the chicken allowing it to penetrate the skin and meat to tenderize and give the chicken a wonderful flavor. Give this sauce a try next time you grill wings, drumsticks, thighs, or breast meat.


  • 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon​ poultry seasoning

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

  3. The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance and stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a few days.

Raw Egg Warning

Consuming raw and lightly-cooked eggs poses a risk of food-borne illness.


  • Although the sauce contains a raw egg, the large amount of vinegar helps to kill any bacteria that may be present. If you are concerned, you can boil down the leftovers before using to eliminate any possibility of salmonella. However, you should make sure to use the sauce as instructed when basting and discard any remaining basting sauce since the raw chicken can contaminate the sauce.
  • You can use this sauce as a marinade and/or basting sauce. If you choose to marinate, soak chicken in sauce for at least 1 to 2 hours (but overnight is even better). Or, you can use the sauce to just baste while cooking. You can also do a combination, marinating in 1/2 cup of the sauce and then using the rest to baste. If you opt to use as a baste, stop basting the last 10 to 12 minutes of cook time. Since the sauce contains a raw egg, this will ensure that the sauce is well cooked by the time the chicken has finished grilling.