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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. 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 thanksgiving or just a yummy family meal all year round! 

Smoking a chicken is not only one of the tastiest ways to cook a chicken, but it is also one of the easiest! When prepared correctly, this method is the best way to have a juicy, great flavor and a delicious dinner every time! 

easy smoked chicken recipe for thanksgiving

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.

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

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.

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. 

Cooking Time for a Smoked 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.

When to Know if a Smoked Chicken is Done

Using a good meat thermometer when cooking is always a great way to know when your chicken is cooked to perfection. The meat is ready or is at the perfect temperature when your thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the chicken thigh. 

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.

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:

  • Roasted Potatoes
  • Caesar Salad
  • Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
  • Glazed Carrots

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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 thanksgiving or just a yummy family meal all year round! 
Prep Time6 hrs
Cook Time5 hrs
Course: lunch & dinner meals
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, easy chicken recipe, smoked chicken
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 310kcal
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
  • 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

  • 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. 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.
  • 2. Start your smoker! Add in your wood pellets and then preheat your smoker to 250 degrees F.
  • 3. 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 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.
  • 4. Prep the chicken/turkey. Use butcher twine to tie the legs together. Tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder joint.
  • 5. 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.
  • 6. Remove, slice, serve and ENJOY that amazing smoke flavor!

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal

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 our tasty 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 rating or 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 or Tik Tok too. Be sure you Pin this recipe to use it again at a later date. 

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