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Smoked Chicken Recipe

Smoked chicken is a family favourite in our home! There is something so tasty about smoking your food! Like this bacon pesto chicken or smoked portobello recipe, smoking a whole chicken or turkey is actually a very simple process and the results are AMAZING.

Smoking a chicken is not only one of the tastiest ways to cook a chicken, but it is also one of the easiest! It’s a simple process of prepping, seasoning, and smoking. Nothing fancy, just a great smoky flavor that will come out juicy and taste delicious. Use this recipe for any occasion like Thanksgiving Easter, Christmas or just a yummy family meal all year round! 

The Process of Smoking a Chicken 

Smoking a chicken is to slowly cook or cure the whole bird at a low temperature using aromatic, smouldering wood pellets or wood chips in a flavour of your choice. You can do this by using pellet grills, charcoal smokers, electric smokers or even cooking on the hot coals of an open fire. The chicken will tenderize in the process and take on a sweetened, smoky flavour as it cooks. This delicious method of cooking can be used for any type of bird including turkey, duck, chicken or even grouse.

We love our Treagar smoker. I have this Treagor grill and LOVE it. These are a few of the most recommended smokers and equipment for smoking I have come across as well.

The Best Wood to Use for Smoking 

Applewood tends to be the most common pellets to use for smoking a chicken as they produce a lovely sweet flavour to the cooked bird. Other delicious flavours of wood pellets or wood chips or wood chunks are mesquite, cherry wood, hickory and oak. It is always fun to try new wood flavours when you are smoking meat. The Traeger grill is a great choice for a pellet grill that adds so much flavor and for smoking all types of foods.

Preparing a Chicken for a Smoker

When you prepare a chicken to be smoked, there are a few simple steps to remember! These steps are key to how your bird will turn out and shouldn’t be skipped if at all possible.

Prepare the Bird

To begin, make sure to remove any of the giblets inside of the bird. Then, ensure that the wings have been tucked together under the front of the bird. This will make sure that the tips of the wings don’t get burnt.

Next, truss or tie your legs together with twine for a neater presentation and to make sure that the legs don’t burn in the smoking process.

Loosen the Skin of the Chicken

Prior to cooking or smoking your chicken, you will want to loosen the skin of the bird. Now is the time to add some serious flavour by adding a homemade spice rub!

Rub the spices all over and under the skin of the entire chicken. You can also add additional flavour to the chicken when the cooking process is done. A delicious BBQ sauce or added seasoning is always a great option. 

smoked chicken on a farmhouse table

Brining a Chicken to Smoke

This step is completely dependent on the time you have available for cooking. However, this step will make a huge difference in the flavor of the bird you are smoking. Begin by filling a large pot with lukewarm water, enough to fully submerge or cover the bird. Bring to a boil and add approximately half a cup of kosher salt. Do not use table salt as the chicken will come out salty! You can add other spices or herbs at this point too. Let the pot simmer until the salt is dissolved. Cool and add your chicken to the pot. Refrigerate until ready to smoke. I recommend at least 3 – 12 hours or about one hour per pound of meat.

Cooking Time for a Smoked Chicken

The cooking time for smoking a chicken can vary depending on the size of the bird, the temperature of the smoker, and the method used. As a general rule, it takes approximately 3-4 hours to smoke a whole chicken at a temperature of 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C). However, it’s important to use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure that it reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the meat.

When to Know if a Smoked Chicken is Done

It’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the meat. This will ensure that the chicken is safe to eat and fully cooked.

How To Smoke A Chicken

Ingredients

Smoked Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 Wood Pellets of your choice applewood is delicious
  • 1 1bsp Olive Oil extra virgin

Brining Ingredients

  • ½  Cup Kosher Salt
  • ½  Cup Splash of Vinegar 
  • ½  Cup Sugar
  • Spices and Herbs
  • Paper Towel

Homemade BBQ Rub Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions

Brining The Chicken

  1. For best results, brine your chicken. This is optional and only if you have time however it does make a HUGE difference in the flavour of the meat after it is smoked. Begin by filling a large pot with lukewarm water, enough to fully submerge or cover the bird.
  1. Bring to a boil and add approximately half a cup of kosher salt. Do not use table salt as the chicken will come out salty! You can add other spices or herbs at this point too. Let the pot simmer until the salt is dissolved. Cool and add your chicken to the pot. Refrigerate until ready to smoke. I recommend at least 3 – 12 hours or for about one hour per pound of meat.
  1. Start your smoker! Add in your wood pellets and then preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.

Make The Rub

  1. Mix together the homemade BBQ rub spices. Season the whole chicken with the spice blend. Blot your chicken dry using a paper towel and then drizzle the bird with olive oil
  2. Rub the homemade BBQ rub on the outside of the chicken and on all sides. Loosen the skin and add a dry rub between the skin and meat as well. This can make your skin look a bit less aesthetically pleasing when your chicken cooks, however, the taste is so worth it!

Smoke The Chicken

  1. Prep the chicken/turkey. Use butcher twine to tie the legs together. Tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder joint.
  1. Smoke that bird! Place the seasoned chicken directly on the grill grates. Close the smoker and smoke for 3-5 hours depending on the size of your bird. You’ll want the thickest part of the breast to reach 160-165 degrees F, and the chicken thighs internal temperature reaches 170-175 degrees F.
smoking a chicken

For a turkey, it’s good to plan 30 minutes per pound when you smoke it between 225-250 degrees F. It takes a 13-pound turkey about 7 hours in the smoker for the digital thermometer to reach 165 degrees F in the turkey breast and 175 degrees F in the turkey thigh.

Remove, slice, serve and ENJOY that amazing smoke flavor!

  1. Remove, slice, serve and ENJOY that amazing smoke flavor!

Smoked Chicken Tips

Here are a few tips before you smoke your chicken.

  1. Brine the chicken: Brining the chicken before smoking it can help keep it moist and flavorful. You can use a simple brine of salt, sugar, and water, or add additional flavorings like herbs, spices, or citrus.
  2. Use a dry rub: A dry rub can add flavor and texture to the chicken. You can use a pre-made rub or create your own blend of spices.
  3. Choose the right wood: Different types of wood can impart different flavors to the chicken. Some popular woods for smoking chicken include apple, hickory, mesquite, and oak.
  4. Monitor the temperature: It’s important to monitor the temperature of the smoker and the chicken to ensure it cooks evenly and to prevent it from drying out. Aim for a temperature of around 225-250°F and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken.
  5. Let it rest: After smoking, let the chicken rest for at least 10-15 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute and results in a more tender and flavorful chicken.
  6. Experiment with different sauces: While smoked chicken is delicious on its own, you can also try adding different sauces or glazes for added flavor. Some popular options include barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or a spicy buffalo sauce.
a whole smoked chicken with lemon and thyme on a platter with a fresh loaf of bread

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Foods to Pair With Smoked Chicken

Chicken is such wonderful meat to pair with so many different types of side dishes. Our family loves this green bean and goat cheese salad with smoked chicken. A few other delicious sides are:

I truly hope this answers all your questions about smoking a chicken and you end up with the most delicious meal every single time. Make sure you save the bones and carcass to make my easy chicken and barley soup for the week after! Another easy and tasty recipe you are guaranteed to love! 

As always, I love to hear from you. Leave me a recipe rating and let me know in the comments below how your smoked chicken turned out. You can always find me on one of my social media channels like Instagram too. Be sure you Pin this recipe to use it again at a later date. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature should I smoke a chicken at?

The recommended temperature for smoking a chicken is between 225°F and 250°F (107°C and 121°C). This low and slow cooking method allows the chicken to cook evenly and absorb the smoke flavor without drying out.

How long does it take to smoke a chicken?

The cook time it takes to smoke your bird is completely dependent on the size of the chicken. A good rule of thumb to follow is to smoke your chicken at 250 degrees F for 45 mins per pound. Therefore a 4-5 pound chicken will take approximately 3 to 5 hours to smoke.
If you’re smoking chicken pieces, such as legs or wings, the cooking time may be shorter, typically around 1.5 to 2 hours.

Should I brine my chicken before smoking it?

Brining your chicken before smoking it can help to keep the meat moist and tender, while also adding flavor. Brining involves soaking the chicken in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water for several hours before smoking. This allows the chicken to absorb the brine and retain more moisture during the cooking process.
If you choose to brine your chicken, it’s important to rinse it thoroughly and pat it dry before seasoning and smoking it. However, if you’re short on time or prefer not to brine your chicken, you can still achieve delicious results by seasoning it with a dry rub or marinade.

a smoked chicken on a platter with lemons and hebs

How to Make the Best Smoked Chicken

Smoked chicken is a family favourite in our home! Smoking a whole chicken or turkey is actually a very simple process and the results are AMAZING. Use this recipe for any special occasion or just a yummy family meal all year round! 
Prep Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 5 hours
Course: lunch & dinner meals
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, easy chicken recipe, smoked chicken
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 138kcal
Cost: 18

Ingredients

Smoked Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 1 Wood Pellets of your choice applewood is delicious
  • 1 1bsp Olive Oil extra virgin

Brining Ingredients

  • ½  Cup Kosher Salt
  • ½  Cup Splash of Vinegar 
  • ½  Cup Sugar
  • Spices and Herbs

Homemade BBQ Rub Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions

Steps For Brining

  • For best results, brine your chicken. This is optional and only if you have time however it does make a HUGE difference in the flavour of the meat after it is smoked. 
    preparing to brine a chicken. filling a large pot with water to brine a chicken or turkey
  • Begin by filling a large pot with lukewarm water, enough to fully submerge or cover the bird. Bring to a boil and add approximately half a cup of kosher salt.
    adding salt to a pot to brine a chicken
  • Do not use table salt as the chicken will come out salty! You can add other spices or herbs at this point too. Let the pot simmer until the salt is dissolved. Cool and add your chicken to the pot.
    adding herbs to a chicken brine
  • Refrigerate until ready to smoke. I recommend at least 3 – 12 hours or about one hour per pound of meat.
    brining a chicken with herbs in a large pot
  • Start your smoker! Add in your wood pellets and then preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
    pellets in a smoker

Make A Spice Rub

  • Mix together the homemade BBQ rub spices.
    making a spice rub for smoking a chicken
  • Season the whole chicken with the spice blend. Blot your chicken dry using a paper towel and then drizzle the bird with olive oil and rub the homemade BBQ rub on the outside of the chicken and on all sides. Loosen the skin and add a dry rub between the skin and meat as well.
    putting a rub on a chicken before smoking it.

Truss The Chicken

  • Prep and truss the chicken/turkey. Use butcher twine to tie the legs together. Tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder joint.
    chicken ready to be smoked with a spice rub and herbs on it

Smoke The Chicken

  • Smoke that bird! Place the seasoned chicken directly on the grill grates. Close the smoker and smoke for 3-5 hours depending on the size of your bird. You’ll want the thickest part of the breast to reach 160-165 degrees F, and the chicken thighs internal temperature reaches 170-175 degrees F.
    For a turkey, it's good to plan 30 minutes per pound when you smoke it between 225-250 degrees F. It takes a 13-pound turkey about 7 hours in the smoker for the digital thermometer to reach 165 degrees F in the turkey breast and 175 degrees F in the turkey thigh.
    smoking a chicken
  • Remove, slice, serve and ENJOY that amazing smoke flavor!
    a whole smoked chicken with lemon and thyme on a platter with a fresh loaf of bread

Nutrition

Serving: 100g | Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Trans Fat: 0.003g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 9847mg | Potassium: 115mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 748IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Thanks for the fantastic tips, Deborah! One of the most challenging issues that amateurs confront when smoking chicken is keeping it moist during smoking. My experience has taught me that chicken breasts should be brushed with oil on both sides. Then, season both sides of the chicken with the rub. The seasoning should fully cover the bird. Then cook the chicken in the smoker for 2-3 hours, or until it hits and maintains an internal temperature of 150° for 5 minutes. To verify the temperature of the meat, however, it is critical to use a high-quality meat thermometer.