Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken is super easy to make, and it’s incredibly delicious too! While most of us are well acquainted with barbecued chicken thighs, wings, and breasts, a whole smoked chicken will offer so much more. These chickens can be smoked, carved, and served just like a roasted chicken, or you can cook them a little longer, shred the meat, and use it in pulled chicken sandwiches or make a great chicken salad. Whichever way you choose to serve this smoked chicken, I highly recommend pairing it with either a creamy Alabama White BBQ Sauce or our tart vinegar-based Piedmont BBQ Sauce.

Chicken-Smoked
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Smoked Chicken Checklist:

  1. Fuel: A smoked chicken will take anywhere between 3-4 hours to cook. Nothing is more disheartening than running out of charcoal, hardwood, or wood pellets before finishing the cook!
  2. Temperature: Low and slow cooking requires a grill or smoker that can hold a steady temperature. Our target cooking temperature for this recipe is 250 degrees F. The target temperature for doneness is an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the breast and 175 degrees in the thigh meat. However, if you plan to make pulled chicken sandwiches, aim for a temperature of 180-185 degrees in the thigh area. Most recipes say 165, but I’ve found (through years of experience) that at 185 degrees, it is easier to separate the meat from the bone. Keep a reliable instant-read thermometer nearby. You will need it!
  3. Wood: For this recipe, I recommend using mild hardwood wood pellets or wood chips. Apple, pecan, maple, and cherry woods work beautifully. I don’t recommend using a robust wood like mesquite or hickory. Chicken meat is mild and can absorb an intensely smoky, bitter flavor from stronger hardwoods.
  4. Brine: To be brine or not to brine. I’ve tried this smoked chicken recipe both ways, and I have to say that I prefer an un-brined chicken. The truth is that it doesn’t need it. I recommend brining something larger, like a turkey, but this chicken only spends 3 hours on the smoker. If using a wet brine, I recommend applying a low salt or unsalted rub afterward.
  5. Trussing: Tying the chicken is not required for this recipe. Trussing is important if you are baking a chicken with a cavity full of stuffing, of which neither applies to this recipe.

How to Make Smoked Chicken:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Whole Chicken, about 3-3 1/2 pounds
  • Smoked Chicken Rub, or your favorite poultry spice rub
  • Olive oil
  • Cider Vinegar
  • Butter

Preparing the chicken:

  1. Remove giblets (if applicable). Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Trim off any loose skin and fat. Gently loosen the skin around the top portion of the breast meat.
  2. Brush chicken with olive oil. Apply dry rub evenly to the chicken, getting some under the breast skin and inside the cavity.

Seasoning:

While we prefer our smoked chicken rub, the possibilities are endless. You can simply apply salt and black pepper. Add a little paprika for color or smoked paprika for an extra hit of smoky flavor. Try some cayenne pepper to give it a spicy kick. Garlic powder and onion powder are always a favorite with chicken. From there, throw in whatever herbs you prefer like oregano, thyme, and rosemary. And for a really deep flavor, a pinch of cumin goes a long way.

Whole Chicken on Smoker

Smoking:

  1. Prepare your charcoal grill or smoker for 250 degrees. Is using a kamado or kettle, create a two-zone cooking area, with the hot coals banked on one side. Add your preferred wood chunks to the fire. Set a drip pan next to the coals if there is room.
  2. Once the grill is up to temp, place the seasoned chicken on the grill grates. Close the lid, and let the chicken cook for 1 1/2 hours. 
Basting a Chicken

Basting:

  1. After 1 1/2 hours, baste the smoked chicken with a mixture of melted butter and cider vinegar. Do this every 30 minutes until the chicken is done.
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Smoked chicken doneness:

  1. The chicken has finished once the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees and the breast meat is 165. If you want to shred the chicken, look for a meat temperature of 185-190 degrees in the thigh meat. Use a reliable meat thermometer.
  2. Remove the chicken from your grill or smoker, place it onto a clean cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Carve (or pull) and serve!

Storing leftovers:

  • Store the leftover smoked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze your leftovers for up to 3 months. 
Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken is super easy to make, and it’s incredibly delicious too! While most of us are well acquainted with barbecued chicken thighs, wings, and breasts, a whole smoked chicken will offer so much more.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American BBQ
Keyword: chicken smoked, smoked chicken, smoked whole chicken
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 5 servings
Calories: 362kcal
Author: Derrick Riches and Sabrina Baksh

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken about 3-3 1/2 pounds
  • 3-4 tablespoons Smoked Chicken Rub or your favorite poultry rub
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter melted

Instructions

  • Remove giblets (if applicable). Blot the chicken dry with paper towels. Trim off any loose skin and fat. Gently loosen the skin around the top portion of the breast meat.
  • Brush chicken with olive oil, and apply rub evenly to the chicken, getting some under the breast skin and inside the cavity.
  • Prepare your grill or smoker for 250 degrees. Is using a kamado or kettle, create a two-zone cooking area, with the hot coals banked on one side. Add your preferred wood chunks to the fire. Set a drip pan next to the coals if there is room.
  • Once the grill is up to temp, place the seasoned chicken on the grill grates. Close the lid, and let the chicken cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  • After 1 1/2 hours, baste the chicken with a mixture of melted butter and cider vinegar. Do this every 30 minutes until the chicken has cooked through.
  • The chicken has finished once the thigh meat reaches an internal temperature of 175 degrees and the breast meat is 165. If you want to shred the chicken, look for a thigh meat temperature of 185-190 degrees.
  • Remove the smoked chicken from your grill or smoker, place it onto a clean cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes.
  • Carve (or pull) and serve!
  • Store the leftover smoked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. You can also freeze your leftovers for up to 3 months.

Notes

Recipe photo: bhofack2

Nutrition

Calories: 362kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 120mg | Potassium: 313mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 233IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 31mg | Iron: 1mg

Photos by: Sabrina Baksh/derrickriches.com

Smoked Chicken

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