Smoking is an amazing way to cook a whole chicken. It comes out of the smoker moist and juicy with a wonderful smokey flavour infused in the meat. Not only does it taste great, but it also is a very easy way to cook a whole chicken. I have detailed instructions for smoking a whole chicken at this link here – How to Smoke a Whole Chicken.
One other way that I enjoy smoking a chicken is by flattening it. This method is called spatchcock chicken and is done by removing the backbone of the bird so that it can open and flatten with the legs and thighs spread out. This is a great way to cook a chicken because it cooks a bit more quickly and I also find that cooks a little more evenly and that the thigh meat finishes around the same time as the breast meat.
It is not very difficult to spatchcock a chicken. All you need is a pair of kitchen shears. Kitchen shears are an excellent tool for any home cook and they are perfect for removing the backbone of a chicken.
Using the kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone of the chicken. Remove the backbone and discard. Open up the chicken and cut into the centre of the cartilage and bone that is in between the breasts. You don’t need to cut right through this centre bone, but I find that cutting a little split into this bone allows the chicken to flatten more easily. Flip the chicken, breast side up, and press down to flatten. Spread the legs and thighs out as seen in the picture below.
One of the most important things about a smoked chicken is to season the skin with a lot of rub. A good rub on a smoked chicken gives the skin so much flavour. Trust me when I say that these wings and drumsticks are incredible. People will fight over them!
Mix together all the spices to make the seasoning and rub all over chicken. I place the chicken on a large baking sheet when rubbing with the seasoning for easy clean up. Make sure that you coat all sides of the bird and in all the crevices. The more you season the chicken, the more flavourful every bite will be!
Set the smoker to 275F. Regarding wood, there are lots of different types of wood that are great for smoking chicken. While hickory is always excellent, I am a huge fan of smoking poultry with fruit wood like apple or cherry. Pecan is also really good for smoking chicken.
Once you have got the smoker up to temperature and lots of smoke flowing, lay the flattened bird on a smoker rack and place in the smoker.
As I mentioned earlier, cooking a spatchcock chicken will finish quicker since it is flattened. Monitor the temperature and remove when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165F.
Take it out of the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Smoked Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 whole chicken
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp white sugar
- Using kitchen shears, cut along each side of the backbone of the chicken. Remove the backbone and discard. Open up the chicken and cut into the cartilage and bone that is in between the breasts. Flip the chicken breast side up. Press down to flatten.
- Make the seasoning by mixing together the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the seasoning all over the chicken, including the inner cavity of the bird.
- Set up smoker for 275F using wood chips of choice.
- Lay the chicken skin side up on a smoker rack and spread it out so that it is flat on the rack.
- Smoke the chicken for about 3 hours, or until internal temperature is 165F.
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes.