What's Cooking: Cornell prof gave us a BBQ sauce recipe for the ages

It’s one of the most famous chicken recipes in America. So, one delicious way to celebrate summer bbq’ing is by popping a cold one in honor of the man who has helped to make barbecued chicken America’s favorite picnic food.

Cornell University Professor Robert Baker is the creator of the famous Cornell Barbecue Chicken Sauce, the recipe that is often referred to as “State Fair Chicken.” The simple and tasty sauce can be used as a fabulous two-hour marinade or for basting chicken on the grill.

And the bbq sauce that goes with the chicken is just as unique, with a mayonnaise base instead of tomato sauce.

The Cornell Barbecue Chicken isn’t the only iconic recipe to come from Baker. He is also the inventor of more than 40 other recipes including chicken and turkey hot dogs, and the world-famous chicken nugget.

(McDonald’s generally gets the credit for inventing the chicken nuggets, but Baker published his chicken nugget recipe in the 1950s, while McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets recipe was patented in 1979.)

Another creation that probably helped land Baker in the Poultry Hall of Fame (Yes, there is one!) was his revolutionary method of binding breading to chicken that is used in hundreds of food applications today.

In the book, “The Lexicon of Real American Food,” it says that Robert Baker’s goal in life was to get people to eat more chicken. Mission accomplished.


• 8 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs

• 1 egg

• 1 cup vegetable oil

• 2 cups cider vinegar

• 2 tablespoons salt

• 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Wash and pat dry chicken thighs. Place in a large bowl.

Prepare the basting mixture by placing the egg and vegetable oil in a medium bowl and whisk vigorously to combine. Add the vinegar, salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper, whisking to combine. Set aside.

Heat a grill plate to medium high heat. Brush with olive oil. Arrange the thighs on the grill.

Immediately start basting the chicken with the basting mixture. Baste often, about once every 3 to 5 minutes, stirring the basting mixture as you use it. Continue grilling until the chicken turns a rich golden brown and the meat is cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes per side and internal temperature is 165 degrees. Serve with BBQ Sauce. Serves 4

Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce

Makes 1 ½ cups

• 1 cup mayonnaise

• 1/2 cup cider vinegar

• 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

• 1 teaspoon salt

In a bowl, combine the mayo, vinegar, poultry seasoning, pepper and salt. Whisk to combine.

Brush lightly over chicken thighs and serve remainder in a small bowl on the side.

Serves 8.