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Ask Philadelphia Experts: Top Barbecue Recipes

Fette Sau
Photo Credit: Fette Sau

Barbecues are a favorite summertime tradition that many look forward to each year. While there are many Philadelphia restaurants that make delicious barbecue, there's still something special about making it at home to enjoy with family and friends in your backyard or a local park. With these recipes from Philadelphia chefs, you can make food that tastes just as good as the pros' from the comfort of your own home. Round up some friends and family, and get BBQ-ing!

Chef Justin Swain
REX 1516
1516 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19146
(267) 319-1366

Before becoming the executive chef at REX 1516, Chef Justin Swain attended the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and then worked at Philadelphia restaurants 1601 and Bridget Foy's. While born and raised in Philadelphia, Chef Justin Swain is no stranger to Southern food and barbecue. As executive chef at REX 1516, Swain continues the restaurant's tradition of Southern cuisine while bringing in his own experiences with barbecue and classic techniques to the table.

Chef Swain describes his take on the popularity of barbecue saying, "Barbecue is one of those types of food that everyone can relate to because of the memories it triggers. For me personally, it means summer, hanging out with family on the porch and having a good time. As I got older and started exploring barbecue on my own, it was still the same but it involved good friends and an afternoon of drinking good beers while the pork shoulder slowly smoked for hours. Barbecue always has those comforting memories attached to it, which is why I think so many people are drawn to it.

REX 1516 currently offers barbecue pulled chicken sliders on the bar bites menu. They are made with a more acidic, Carolina-style sauce.

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sliders

  • Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 recipe BBQ rub (below)
  • 1 recipe BBQ braise (below)
  • 1 recipe BBQ sauce (below)
  • Brioche buns
  • Coleslaw

BBQ Rub (makes 4 quarts)

  • 4 cups paprika
  • 1 cup garlic powder
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup celery seed
  • 2 cups salt
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 cup red pepper flake
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 1/2 cup dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup turmeric
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chile powder
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander

BBQ Braise

  • 1 quart apple cider
  • 1 quart apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup BBQ rub

BBQ Sauce

  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 2 cups root beer
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cups molasses
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup BBQ rub


  1. Coat chicken generously with BBQ rub and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Overnight is best if time allows.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Grill chicken in a pan with olive oil to sear the outside before moving to a roasting pan.
  4. Mix together braising ingredients in a bowl and pour over chicken just until covered.
  5. Cover pan with aluminum foil and braise in the oven for 3 hours, or until chicken can easily be shredded.
  6. Pull chicken off the bone and sauté in BBQ sauce.
  7. Serve on toasted brioche buns with coleslaw.

Related: Top Cheesy Dishes In Philadelphia

Chef Joe Carroll
Fette Sau
1208 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 391-4888

Owner and chef Joe Carroll of Fette Sau joined with restaurateur Stephen Starr to bring the success of his Brooklyn barbecue joint by the same name to Fishtown this past fall. While Chef Carroll still calls Brooklyn his home base, he developed the menu, recipes and everything food and beer related for the Philly locale. Fette Sau, German for "fat pig," is a cafeteria-style restaurant with long picnic tables and booths. The restaurant serves dry-rubbed meats, all from local farms that don't use hormones, antibiotics or steroids. The selection of meats changes daily and favorite barbecue sides such as smoked corn on the cob, sour pickles and burnt-end baked beans complete the meal. The creamy German potato salad gets plenty of flavor from a simple mustard dressing, the perfect partner to your pick of barbecued meat.

German Potato Salad

Mustard Dressing

  • 1 1/3 cups whole grain mustard
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Potato Salad

  • 5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 pound Spanish onions
  • Chives, diced


  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients and put aside.
  2. Boil potatoes just until softened. Allow to cool and cut into bite-size cubes.
  3. Dice onions and sautee until soft and translucent. Let cool.
  4. Gently mix potatoes, onions and about 1 cup of dressing.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chives.

Related: Top Pulled Pork in Philadelphia

Chef Jeffrey Froehler
Barclay Prime
237 S. 18th S.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 732-7560

After working in Ft. Lauderdale, South Beach and even in the sky with a private jet catering company, Chef Jeffrey Froehler returned to Philadelphia in 2012. This is the city where he attended the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College and where he worked under Chef Thomas Harkins at Circa and later, with chef James LoCascio at Stephen Starr's Barclay Prime. This time around, Chef Froehler is taking the position of executive chef at the premier steakhouse. Located in the historic Barclay Building in Rittenhouse Square, Barclay Prime is known for its unique atmosphere with a modern library feel.

Dr. Pepper Chicken Wings

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 gallon water
  • 8 quarts of ice
  • 5 pounds whole chicken wings
  • 2 cans flat Dr. Pepper soda


  1. Make brine by combining all ingredients except ice, chicken and soda. Bring to a boil and then pour over ice.
  2. Once brine is cold, pour over chicken wings and let rest for 3 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from brine and dry.
  4. Place wings in smoker with hickory wood.
  5. Fill a food-safe spray bottle with Dr. Pepper and liberally spray wings every 15 minutes.
  6. Smoke chicken for 3 hours before serving with your favorite summer beer.
Michelle Hein is a copy editor for a women's fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn't pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery...perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer boyfriend would love to open.

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