How to Smoke a Whole Chicken
Smoking a whole chicken is quite possibly the most popular meat that I smoke. It may only pork ribs that I smoke more often than a whole bird.
We love smoked chicken and it is far superior to any rotisserie chicken you can purchase at the grocery store. The meat is moist and juicy with a wonderful smokey flavor.
One other thing we love about about smoked chicken is that it is outstanding for leftovers. We always make extras, knowing that the meat will be great in wraps, sandwiches or on pizza. Use the carcass to make some smoked chicken broth for a soup with so much flavor.
Here is a recipe for my Smoked Chicken Chowder Soup. It is AMAZING!
Make sure that you generously rub the chicken with a good bbq spice rub before placing it in the smoker.
This is my ‘go-to’ rub that is great with so many things, including chicken.
Set the smoker for 250F. Some smokers work more in a ‘temperature range’. If that is the case, keep it over 250F. Anywhere between 250-275F is great.
Poultry is great with many different wood choices. Some of the wood I usually use are hickory, apple, oak, pecan and maple. For this particular smoke, I used Bradley’s Whiskey Oak wood bisquettes. They resulted in a really nice flavor.
Smoke the chicken until the internal temperature of the leg reaches 165F.
Some electric smokers struggle to crisp up the skin.
The taste of the meat is amazing but the skin can be on the rubbery side. If you love a crispy skin, it may be necessary to transfer the chicken to your oven for the last 30 minutes or so.
I have done this and it works really well. In this case, remove the chicken from the smoker when the internal temperature is around 145-150F. Place the bird in a 375F oven and cook until the internal temperature is 165F.
Let the chicken rest 15-20 minutes before carving. This will draw all the juices back into the bird.
While the majority of pictures show the chickens being smoked in an electric smoker, I also love to cook them in my pellet grill. The picture just above shows 6 whole chickens in my pellet grill and they are amazing!! Perfect for a big BBQ party!!
To smoke the chickens in a pellet grill, follow the same instructions as for the electric smoker.
How to Smoke a Whole Chicken using an Electric Smoker
- 1 or more whole chickens
- 3 tbsp of rub for each whole chicken
- Setup up smoker for 250F using wood of choice. Some great wood options for poultry are hickory, apple, oak, pecan and maple. I used Bradley's Whiskey Oak wood for this smoke.
- Rinse the chicken under cold water. Trim any excess skin or fat around the neck area or in and around the cavity of the bird.
- Tie the legs together using kitchen string or butcher's twine. If desired, fold the wings back and under the back. This is not necessary, but nice for presentation.
- Generously rub the bird with the spice rub. Make sure that you get all areas of the chicken covered with the spices as this will greatly enhance the flavor.
- Place the birds on the smoker racks and leave in the smoker until they reach an internal temperature of 165F. The time it takes to reach this temperature varies greatly. Depending on the smoker and the amount of food you are smoking it can take anywhere from 3-5 hours.
- Let the chicken rest for 15-20 minutes before carving.