This is the best Smoked Whole Chicken Recipe. When you smoke chicken, you get extra crispy skins and juicy meat. Whole smoked chicken, just like smoked chicken wings, requires only 10 minutes of prep time.
The whole chicken is coated in a simple blend of olive oil, herbs, and lemon juice (or BBQ), then cooked slow and slow smoked to create a perfectly seasoned crust that complements the juicy, smoke-infused interior.
acquaintance smoking recipes: Smoked Pork Chops, Smoked Tri Tip and Smoked Picanha.
The only essential ingredient is the whole chicken itself and oil! All other spices are optional. We have two favorite flavors to choose from:
garlic herb – Lemon, Italian spices and garlic.
grilling – BBQ rub and barbecue sauce.
How long to smoke a chicken
Wondering How Long You Should Smoke Chicken? Smoking time depends on the weight and shape of the bird you’re cooking, as well as other factors like the weather outside (how cold or windy is it?), so it’s difficult to calculate an exact cooking time.
Here are two guidelines to use:
How long does it take to smoke a whole chicken at 275?°F?
It takes about 2-2.5 hours at constant temperature between 250°F and 275°F.
How long does it take to smoke a whole chicken at 375?°F?
It takes about 60-90 minutes at constant temperature between 350°F and 375°F.
How to smoke a whole chicken
Full instructions are in the recipe card, but here’s a quick overview so you know what you’re getting into:
- Dry Brine the Bird (Optional) – For extra crispy skin, dry the bird with salt.
- Tie, dry and season the bird – Remove the innards, tie the legs together and season.
- Smoke – Cut out 2 – 2.5 hours of cooking time.
The bird is done when the breast meat has reached 165°F and the thigh meat has reached 175°F. Be sure to measure the temperature on both sides of the bird unless cooking over a rotisserie. Use the lowest temperature of the two.
Also, make sure the thermometer isn’t touching any bones, as this will affect the reading.
smoked chicken temperature
The goal is to keep the ambient temperature of the smoked chicken as close to 275°F as possible. If you decide to use a manual smoker, try to keep it between 250 and 275°F.
Smoking a whole chicken
Smoking a whole chicken is easy when you use the best smoked chicken recipe! This recipe can be prepared on any grill, but we don’t recommend a gas grill for longer cooking times like this one. See the recipe card for full instructions.
For beginners, here’s a quick cheat sheet for each type of grill:
- charcoal – Preheat the coals until just overflowing. Pour into the center of your grill and open the vents 25%. Create smoke by placing pieces of wood directly on the preheated coals.
- Pellet/Electric Smokers – Preheat your grill to 225°F. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to get an even smoke.
- energy source – The chicken will stay on the grill for hours, so make sure you stock up on your chosen energy source: charcoal, pellets, propane, gas, etc.
- smoking wood – Chunks, chips or pellets.
- clinical thermometer – Always use a thermometer. Always. Our favorite digital thermometer is the Thermaworks Dot. It never fails.
- water bottle – Use it to spritz the bird while cooking. We use cheap spray bottles from Amazon.
Wondering what wood to use for a tasty whole chicken? There are some that work well. Pecan is our favorite when smoking poultry. It gives the meat a nice sweetness. cherry wood and apple wood are also great options.
If you want a stronger smoky flavor, go for oak. We advise against using hickory wood due to the intense flavor.
Like super crispy skin? The key is to dry the bird in brine to draw excess moisture from the skin before cooking. It’s a simple process but needs to be planned ahead of time as the brine needs to be dried for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24 hours.
Check out the recipe card below for the “Drying Chicken in Brine” instructions. To learn more about why this works, read this informative article on the subject.
- You can substitute butter for the oil if you like, but the oil will make the skin crispy.
- We always put a small bowl of water in the smoker when cooking for long periods of time to keep the meat moist.
- Be sure to spray the grill or grate before heating to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to it.
- As with all chicken recipes, do not leave at room temperature for more than two hours. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Use and prepare leftover bones and/or meat Instant Pot Bone Broth.
Side dish ideas
While you’re already using the smoker, why not throw in some veggies to top off the meal? We like to serve this alongside poultry:
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Garlic mashed potatoes
Roasted Brussels sprouts
Ensalata de papa
Ideas for leftover chickens
If you have leftover chicken, check out all of our chicken recipes and soup recipes for ideas!
What wine goes with chicken?
Wine – Syrah, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Champagne
Servings: 8th portions
Prepare the chicken
Remove the giblets and pat the chicken dry and tie the legs with butcher twine. Tuck the wingtips under/behind the bird’s back to keep them from burning, or tie them to the bird.
Grate the lemon and save the rest for another recipe, or quarter it and place the pieces in the chicken cavity.
1 lemon, peeled and quartered
Place the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix to form a paste. Coat the chicken on all sides as evenly as possible.
4 tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
1 tbsp minced garlic
1½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp onion powder
½ tsp black pepper
COOK THE CHICKEN
Preheat the smoker to 275°F. Add the wood shavings and place the chicken breast-side up on the smoker grate.
At the 45 minute mark, turn the chicken (for even cooking) and spray with additional cooking oil (or use a pastry brush, but go easy!) to crisp up the skin.
After 1.5 hours (for even cooking), turn the chicken and spray with additional cooking oil (or use a pastry brush, but go light!) to crisp up the skin. The temperature of the chest should be around 140°F and the temperature of the thigh should be around 150°F.
Around the 2 hour mark, the thickest part of the chest should be 165°F and the thickest part of the thigh should be 175°F. Keep smoking until the thermometer registers these temperatures.
Remove chicken and let rest 10-15 minutes before carving.
Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 2G | Protein: 21G | Fat: 20G | Saturated Fatty Acids: 5G | Polyunsaturated fat: 4G | Monounsaturated fatty acids: 9G | Trans fats: 0.1G | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 368mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 1G | Sugar: 0.4G | Vitamin A: 163ie | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg