Smoked Whole Chicken

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Smoked Whole Chicken

Making smoked whole chicken is easy and it tastes fabulous. You only need a few moments of hands-on time to prepare your chicken, then the rest is up to your smoker. Give this easy and delicious recipe a try, to taste how amazing it is for yourself! Check out our easy step-by-step instructions below. 

Smoked Chicken feet first

Why This Recipe Works

This recipe works because a whole smoked whole chicken is so tasty. When you use a recipe, you get a smoked whole chicken that tastes fabulous, and it is great to feed a crowd, or perfect for leftovers. You just plain can’t go wrong when you smoke a whole chicken. 

Expert Tips

Smoked Whole Chicken Rub. Adding a rub on your smoked whole chicken will add delightful seasoning to your chicken. There are a variety of different rubs you can use, or you can make your own. You can get as complicated or as simple as you wish. 

How to Prep a Whole Chicken. There are a couple of different ways you can prepare a whole chicken for smoking. One is simply to add a rub to your chicken after it has been gutted and cleaned. 

Another way you can prepare your whole chicken for smoking is to spatchcock the chicken. This cuts the backbone out of the chicken so that you can open it and smoke it faster. It also allows the chicken to absorb more of the smoke flavor. 

Although either method works for smoking a whole chicken, our favorite is simply to clean, add a rub, and smoke a whole chicken. This allows the inside of the chicken to stay moist. 

Best Wood for Smoking Chicken. Applewood and cherry are probably the two most common kinds of wood used to smoke a whole chicken. However, in addition to these two, you can also use pecan, mesquite, and hickory. 

Smoker Essentials

Before you begin smoking your whole chicken it’s important to make sure you have all the equipment on hand that you will need. Below is a list of needed items in order to smoke a whole chicken. 

Smoker

Thermometer

Tongs

Pellets or Wood Chips

Smoked Chicken butt first

Smoked Whole Chicken Ingredients

1 whole chicken, thawed

Olive oil, to drizzle

Rub

¼ cup brown sugar

1 ½ tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp coarse sea salt

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp garlic salt

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp paprika 

1 pinch rosemary 

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken

Step 1 – The Rub

In a small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for your spice rub. Stir until combined then transfer into a shaker container. 

Step 2 – Cutting the Chicken

Next prepare your chicken. Cut any excess skin off of the chicken, and remove any gizzard bag, or innards. Trim away any feathers or unwanted items from the skin. Once you are happy that your chicken is completely clean, you are ready to add the seasonings. 

Step 3 – Marinating The Chicken

Now that your chicken is clean, rub the outside of your whole chicken with olive oil. Sprinkle your rub mixture on the outside of the chicken. We do not recommend rubbing it around as it has a tendency to clump. Simply sprinkle, then set your chicken on a dish. Taking Butcher twine, tie the chicken’s legs together and tuck the wings underneath. 

Step 4 – Preparing The Smoker

Preheat your smoker to 225°F. Also, make sure your grates are clean and ready for use. Load the smoker up with your desired wood chips or pellets. 

Step 5 – Smoking Your Chicken

Add your chicken directly onto your smoker’s grate. We recommend setting your chicken on the top rack, then place a drip pan underneath to catch any juice that might escape. 

Step 6 – Smoke Low & Slow

Smoke your chicken over heat that is 225°F until the breast temperature reaches at least 165°F, and the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches at least 175°F. The time it takes to smoke your whole chicken to this point may vary depending on the size of your chicken, and your external temperature as well. 

Step 7 – Finish Hot & Fast

Once your chicken has reached your internal temperature goals, crank your smoker up to approximately 375°F. Smoke your chicken hot and fast for the final 10-20 minutes. This will help to crisp up the skin on your bird. During this time you can also add barbecue sauce to your chicken if desired. 

Step 8 – Resting the bird

Once your chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the smoker and allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving. Then, serve and enjoy! 

Smoked Chicken top down feet to the left

Temperature for Smoked Whole Chicken

The ideal temperature to smoke your chicken is 225°F. It works best to smoke your chicken over low temperature, and over a several hour period of time so that it cooks low and slow. This allows you to enjoy the best possible smoked whole chicken. 

You’ll want to smoke your chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165°F. You will have the best results when the chicken breast reaches 165°F, but your chicken thighs need to reach an internal temperature of 175°F for the best results. If it doesn’t come out just right, then aim for at least 175°F in the chicken thighs. 

If the internal temperature in other parts of the chicken ends up being higher than 165 that is okay. At no point do you want to eat a whole chicken that has an internal temperature below 160°F. 

How Long to Smoke a Whole Chicken

The amount of time it takes to smoke a whole chicken will depend on the size of the chicken, as well as its external temperature. It will also depend on the temperature you are smoking your chicken at. 

A general rule of thumb to follow is that it will take approximately one hour and 15 minutes at 225°F per pound to smoke a whole chicken. For if you are smoking a 2 or 3-pound whole chicken it will take approximately four hours to completely smoke. 

If you want to speed things up a little bit you could smoke your whole chicken at 250°F and count on approximately 45 minutes per pound. You can depend on your average chicken to take between three and five hours minimum smoking time.

It’s always best to allow extra time so that you were chicken can fully smoke. You do not want to risk eating raw chicken. 

What to Serve with Smoked Chicken

There are many options when it comes to what you can serve with smoked chicken. Below are a few ideas that you can easily throw on the smoker, and enjoy in addition to your chicken. 

Reheating Smoked Chicken

Easily reheat your smoked chicken on your smoker. To do this you can simply wrap it in aluminum foil to create a type of tent or bag. Before sealing it completely add one or 2 tablespoons of water then seal and smoke at 250° until it is warmed through. 

You can also reheat your leftover smoked chicken on a grill, in the microwave, or in the oven. To prevent your chicken from drying out, be sure to add a little bit of water to it before reheating. 

Smoked Chicken top down

Storage

Room Temp. Your smoked whole chicken should be left at room temperature for no more than two hours if the temperature is between 40°F and 90°F. However, if the temperature is above 90°F it should be kept at room temperature for no more than one hour. 

Fridge. Smoked pulled chicken can be refrigerated as well. Once it has been cooked you can refrigerate your chicken for approximately three days at 40°F or below. 

Freezer. Smoked whole chicken that has been transferred to an airtight container, vacuum-sealed, or sealed in a plastic bag and wrapped in freezer paper or butcher paper can last up to three months, for best results when stored 0°F or below. Although your smoked chicken may last longer, it will be best when used within three months. 

Smokers

There are many different options when it comes to the type of smokers you can use to smoke a whole chicken. Not only are there various ways the smokers function but there are also different brands with various ways that smokers operate.

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken on a Pellet Grill

Smoking a whole chicken on a pellet grill is very much the same as the above recipe. You will prepare your whole chicken as instructed above. Then, preheat your pellet smoker, add your desired flavor of pellets, and clean your grill grates. 

All that’s left is simply add your prepared chicken as instructed above and smoke it until it reaches the internal temperature given above. Really the only difference with using a pellet grill compared to others is that you use pellets for it to operate rather than wood chips or other utilities. 

Traeger Smoked Whole Chicken Recipe 

Traeger smokers are known as being the original smoker. Using a Traeger is very similar to other types of pellet smokers. Be sure that you are using your favorite kind of pellets when smoking your whole chicken on your Traeger grill. 

Smoked Chicken from the side

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to smoke a chicken?

The amount of time it takes to smoke a whole chicken may vary. On average you can count on approximately one hour and 15 minutes time at 225°F per pound, or 45 minutes at 250°F per pound. However, it’s always good to allow extra time when smoking a whole chicken as it can take a long time to complete. 

How Long Will Smoked Chicken Keep?

How long smoked chicken will last depends on how it is stored. At room temperature, it can last up to two hours, stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days, and frozen is best when used before three months have passed. 

Can You Freeze Smoked Chicken?

Yes, smoked chicken can be frozen. To freeze store in an airtight container, sealed in a plastic bag, vacuum seal it, or wrap it in butcher paper, then place it in a plastic bag. You want to be sure to protect it against freezer burn.

What Size Chicken is Best?

What size of the chicken depends on how many people you are feeding with it and how long you hope to smoke it. On average, a 2 or 3-pound chicken is good for smoking. 

Do you have to brine a chicken before you smoke it?

Although sometimes suggested, it is not required. However, brining chicken does add extra moisture and flavor to it. However, brining a whole chicken can be difficult because the chicken is quite large. 

When is smoked chicken done?

For best results, smoked chicken is done when the internal temperature of your chicken breasts reaches 165°F, and the chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 175°F. 

How to Make Gravy from Pan Drippings

Remember that pan we suggested you put underneath your chicken as it smokes? This is because it catches the juice your chicken drips while it smokes. If your chicken is especially juicy, you may have enough to make gravy from the chicken drippings. 

To do this, simply add approximately ¼ cup all-purpose flour or cornstarch to approximately 2 cups of chicken broth. Stir together until no lumps remain and then place into a small saucepan. Bring it to a light simmer stirring often until it begins to thicken. Just like that, you have gravy made from your smoked whole chicken. 

Save The Carcass

After your smoked whole chicken has been enjoyed, be sure to save the leftover chicken carcass. You can use the carcass to make chicken broth which is excellent for homemade soups. 

To make your own chicken broth simply place the carcass into a large soup pot and cover it with water. Allow it to simmer over low for approximately 30 minutes to one hour, or until your broth has formed. You can then remove the carcass and strain any chunks from your broth. Toss the carcass and save the broth for your next homemade soup. 

Smoked Chicken top down feet to the left

Spatchcock Versus Whole Chicken

Spatchcock chicken is when you remove the backbone of a chicken and then open it up so that the whole chicken lays flat. You can do this to your chicken before smoking if desired. It allows you to be able to season more area of the chicken and speed up the cooking time. 

However, when you smoke a whole chicken, it is likely to be juicier on the inside rather than one that has been spatchcocked. For additional details on spatchcock chicken, please see our spatchcock chicken recipe.  

What Is Spatchcock Chicken

Spatchcock chicken is when the backbone of a chicken is removed then the entire chicken is opened up and laid flat. 

Differences In Cook Time

When you open a whole chicken so that is spatchcock, you can decrease the cooking time. It is said that smoking a spatchcock chicken takes less time, it does not take much less time. The main difference is that it allows more flavor to be absorbed into your chicken. 

Applewood Smoked Chicken

Smoked a whole chicken is easy and delicious. Preparing your whole chicken to smoke only takes a few moments, and then it’s all smoke time. There’s nothing quite like enjoying his whole smoked chicken. Give this recipe a try today, and taste for yourself how delicious this recipe for smoked chicken is! 

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