Here are the secrets to smoking chicken that will give you melt-in-your-mouth, smoke flavored, roasted chicken, that's far easier than grilling. The "Cookin Cousins" walk you through this easy, step-by-step method to smoking chicken starting with our "6 Secrets to Smoking Meat".
This is one of our favorite ways to barbecue a whole chicken, and do it often! The only other method that will give you that incomparable result is, "beer can chicken" which we cover on our "Beer Can Chicken" page. But lets use that smoker and...
Patience Low and slow is the real secret to that great smoking chicken experience. We're talking about holding the temperature around 235°F (113°C) for an extended cooking period. You should figure about an hour/pound.
Meat Try to buy a fresh, plump, 3-5 pound broiler-fryer! Go to Secret #1 for more on this.
Spices We use rubs when barbecuing and enjoy putting together our own with these basic fresh ingredients:
Smoker The vertical "wet-pan" type is the most popular backyard smoker, so we wrote this smoking chicken recipe from our experience with this fun cooker. You can buy these wonders at any "big box" store, hardware store, or try the garage/yard ("jumble") sales for a real bargain! Our two favorite, economical, easy to use, backyard units are the Masterbuilt 2-Door Propane Smoker or the rust proof stainless steel vertical smoker.
Hardwood chunks/chips Use only hardwood for any barbecue, like Pecan, Oak, Mesquite, Cherry, Apple, etc., or a combination, to your taste. When it comes to smoking chicken, we found Hickory a little strong, but great!
Instant-Read probe type thermometer All fowl must be fully cooked! Be safe and ensure the meat has reached the ideal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Our two favorite inexpensive and accurate thermometers are the fast reading CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer and the Thermoworks Super Fast Water-Resistant Digital Pocket Thermometer. If you want a very fast professional tool, consider the Splash-Proof Super-Fast Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer. Not real pocket friendly, but it's the top-of-the-line, braggin' rights chef's tool. Remember, everyone hates partially cooked chicken.
Tongs A good pair of tongs are essential when handling anything at the barbecue. Long and strong is the secret, so we suggest the professional type Weber Style Professional-Grade Chef's Tongs or the Oxo Good Grips 16-Inch Locking Tongs. Good tongs are important, but more often we use...
Insulated Food Gloves These things are fantastic for smoked chicken, or your roast! We love our insulated barbecue gloves for fast, no-burnt-fingers, out of the smoker, onto the platter, ease.
Chimney Starter For the charcoal smoker folks this is the best way to start, and maintain, the coals. If you've never used one of these ingenious tools, you're going to love the experience! Our favorite top performer is the Weber Rapidfire Chimney Starter. Lot of chimney starters out there, but this is the champ.
The chicken is first "rubbed", with a simple, dry, spice accented rub recipe and then smoked slow, with low indirect heat. All for that unforgettable tender, perfectly seasoned, eating experience!
Sometimes, when time is a factor, we will use the readily available "Lemon Pepper" seasoning from our favorite purveyors. Works great, but for more fun and adventure...
Let's start with a classic rub that will impart all of the flavors your drooling chops are hankerin' for. Do not let the simplicity of this basic rub fool you. It works great, and you can adjust the recipe (as the "pros" do) to make it "yours". Look at our Rubs page for other great recipes and ideas.
Mix together thoroughly the following:
You can see other simple dry rub recipes that work wonders, at our dry rub recipes page.
NOTE: Chicken should be always kept in the refrigerator (below 40°F/4.4° C) before preparation.
Our recipe for smoking chicken is written for the vertical 'box", or "bullet" wet-pan type smokers, regardless of the heat source so...
NOTE: If you are smoking chicken using a charcoal fired smoker, soak 3 - 4 cups of (dry) chips/chunks for about an hour, drain and place them directly on the coals, once the smoker has reached temperature. This will be sufficient for the entire cooking period, regardless of the addition of more coals. Too much smoke = bitter and nasty!
Control the temperature using the bottom vents only. The top vent should always remain open and not used to control oxygen intake. Each cooker is different so, when smoking chicken, experience rules!
NOTE: Always use tongs and a heat proof glove/mit when smoking chicken! Never use the forked, sharp, pokey thing that seems to come with all backyard barbecue tool sets. It will pierce the meat and allow the juices to run out.
When the temperature (inside the smoker at the grill) has reached 235°F (113°C)...
For the Cookin' Cousins" taste, smoked chicken has all the flavor we need however many folks like a barbecue sauce to add more flavor to the chicken. Lets eat!