Thigh, breast, wings, leg, dark meat, light meat… Whatever your preference is, a Smoked Whole Chicken is exactly what you need. Whether you are cooking for a party of people or to eat off of for a couple of nights, fire up the smoker and get out your favorite spices!
If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a meal prepper. You also know, that if my smoker is running, I don’t mind filling it up and making double batches. So, when your friends have a baby, you sign up for a meal train and smoke yourself and them some dinner!
How to cook a Smoked Whole Chicken
Fire up your smoker following the manufacturer’s guidelines and heat up to 225 degrees. This generally takes my smoker about 15 minutes depending on my target temperature and the outdoor temperature on that day.
While it’s heating up prep the bird. Rinse the chicken off and pat dry. If your bird has the neck and gizzards, etc you might want to remove them before smoking.
Time to dress up your chicken! You can use whatever spices or rubs you want. For this batch, I used my BBQ Seasoning Rub. Tailor your spices to your desired cuisine or a regional barbecue style. Apply your seasoning or rub liberally all over the chicken, including inside the cavity. If there are any loose pieces of skin try to get some seasoning underneath but don’t pull the skin away from the meat if it’s not already loose, you want the skin there to keep the meat moist!
Once your barbecue is at the desired temperature and your chicken is seasoned, put the chicken on and close the lid! It’s important to know if there are any hot or cold zones on your barbecue, as generally, the breasts might require a slightly higher temperature because they are thicker than the legs or thighs. Place the chickens where the breasts are closer to the heat source or hot zone.
Cooking a Smoked Whole Chicken
Once your chickens are on, be sure to leave the lid closed as much as possible. If you’re looking you ain’t cooking!
Much like individual pieces of chicken, the cooking time depends on the size. Typically meat on the bone also takes longer to cook than meat off the bone. At 225 degrees my chickens took about three and a half hours. You want to check the internal temperature of both the breasts and the thighs.
You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees. I suggest getting a WiFi thermometer like the InkBird WiFi Grill Thermometer, which will allow you to monitor the temperature without having to open the lid.
Carving a Whole Chicken
This part is definitely a skill I need to work on. Depending on how you want to serve it you can butcher it once it comes off the smoker or at the table. Or you could pick at it. I follow this YouTube video. I typically like to break mine down into the individual pieces for serving, wing, breast, leg, thigh. If you’re so inclined you can save the bones to make homemade chicken stock. Perfect to freeze for later use for a fall soup!
- You can baste your chicken as it cooks by pouring chicken stock over it. I would suggest keeping it in a roasting pan or having a drip pan below the grate. Alternatively, you can also put small cubes of butter on top of the chicken if you’re lifting the lid to take a peek, the butter will melt and baste the chicken as it slides down the sides.
- If you are a barbecue sauce fan, feel free to mop some sauce near the end of the cook. Don’t put it on too soon, as it may burn. I happen to be smoking this chicken for a friend from Texas, so I didn’t sauce it because in Texas the meat does the talking, not the sauce.
- In addition to saucing it, you can raise the temperature of the smoker to 400 degrees or so for the last 5 to 10 degrees to achieve a crispier skin.
- If you are carving the chicken after it’s smoked, make sure that you have sharp knives. Most of the time people cut themselves it’s from dull knives. When you think of sharp knives think of a hot knife through soft butter, that’s how easy it should be to cut your chicken with a properly sharpened knife.
- 1 whole chicken giblets removed, rinsed, and patted dry
- 1/2 cup BBQ seasoning I used my own BBQ Seasoning Rub
- Start your smoker and get the temperaturee to 225 degrees
- Remove the giblets from your chicken, rinse it off, and pat it dry
- Apply your seasoning to all surfaces of the checken and under any loose areas of skin, being sure not to pull the skin off any areas where it's still attached to the meat
- Once your chicken is seasoned and your smoker is preheated place your chicken on the smoker
- Let your chicken smoke for roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes before checking the temperature in multiple areas. Your target temperature for a fully cooked chicken should be 160-165 degrees for the breasts and 170-175 degrees for the thighs
- If you like BBQ sauce on your chicken, put it on for the last 30 minutes
- In addition, if you want crispier skin, then raise the temperature for the last 10 degrees of the smoking process
Cocktail Pairings with a Smoked Whole Chicken
Looking for drinks to compliment your recipe? Try some of our most popular cocktail recipes!
Side Dishes to Pair with a Smoked Whole Chicken
The perfect additions to any BBQ!
- BBQ Asparagus – simple, sweet, and tangy side dish perfect for that late spring and early summer BBQ
- Spicy Smoked Veggies – they are hot, you’ve been warned!
- 5 Ingredient Smoked Carrots – the easiest BBQ side dish around!
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