My Smoked Whole Chicken with crispy skin on the outside of the chicken and tender, moist, juicy chicken on the inside is a delicious dinner your whole family will love.
My whole smoked chicken couldn’t be easier to make, and the smoking process results in wonderful layers of smoky flavor and delicious moist chicken that will tantalize the taste buds.
If you love smoked meats, you’re definitely going to love my whole smoked chicken. In fact, I usually make two and use the leftover chicken for tacos and sandwiches.
Ingredients to make smoked whole chicken
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make my smoked whole chicken recipe. In Chef Speak, this is called the Mise en Place, which translates into Everything in its Place.
Not only does setting your ingredients up ahead of time speed the cooking process, but it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Can I use other seasonings to make this recipe?
Absolutely! You can add chili powder, onion powder, cumin, or any of your favorite seasoning blends. Cajun seasoning and jerk seasoning are two of my favorites. For more smoke flavor, use smoked paprika instead of sweet paprika.
For a touch of sweetness, add brown sugar to the dry rub, and if you like heat, add a little cayenne pepper to the seasonings.
Ingredients for a wet brine for poultry
Start by preparing the brine for the chicken. The brine adds a depth of flavor to the chicken while adding moisture, keeping the meat juicy and delicious.
Gather the ingredients to make the wet brine for the recipe.
*This step is optional. You can simply use the seasonings from this recipe (with kosher salt added) to make a dry brine. Rub the seasonings into the chicken skin, refrigerate, and let it marinate for 24 hours. If you leave it uncovered while in the fridge, it will help dry out the skin, creating crisper skin.
How to make a smoked whole chicken
- Add the water, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, lemons, and oranges to a stock pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring the water and seasoning mixture to a boil, cooking long enough to make sure all the salt has dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool a little. Then, add the ice to the pan with the cooled chicken brine.
- Pour the wet brine into a container large enough to submerge the whole bird so it’s completely covered by the brine. Then, add the chicken to the wet brine; cover the container and place it in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours prior to cooking.
- Remove the chicken from the container from the container and pat it dry with paper towels. Drying the chicken will help the skin get crispy.
- Add the kosher salt (if using a brine, don’t add the salt), garlic powder, white pepper (or black pepper), ground sage, oregano leaves, and sweet paprika to a small bowl.
- Mix the dry rub together until well blended.
- Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees f.; this will let the chicken come to room temperature before smoking.
- When the smoker temperature has reached 275, add your favorite wood chunks or wood chips to the smoker tube. I used a combination of hickory and cherry wood chips to make this recipe.
*Continue to add wood chips to the smoke tube for the first hour and a half of the smoking process; this will enhance the flavor of the chicken.
- Place the chicken in a baking pan or aluminum tray and season all sides of the chicken with the dry rub seasoning mixture.
- Stuff the cavity of the chicken with orange and onion chunks. This will add flavor as well as moisture while it’s smoking.
- Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, then place the chicken on the smoker rack with a drip pan underneath to catch all the drippings from the chicken (or keep it in an aluminum foil pan).
- When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 150 degrees F., remove the chicken from the smoker and wrap the end of the leg bones with aluminum foil; this will help prevent the skin from shrinking up the leg. Place the chicken back into the smoker and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
*It’s important to remember that we are cooking to a desired temperature, not a specific time. This smoking process should take about 3 hours, but cooking time can vary, depending on the size of your chicken and type of smoker.
When 165 degrees has been reached, remove the chicken from the smoker. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes to allow the juices to recirculate into the meat before slicing.
*Use an instant-read thermometer to make sure you reached the correct internal temperature of at least 165 degrees f.
I love the ThermoPro wireless meat thermometers. The easy to use app makes it easy to track the temperatures of the meats and seafood your cooking.
You get a great variety of wood chips with this starter pack. You get one bag of apple, cheery, mesquite, and hickory wood chips in each variety pack.
Serve this whole smoked chicken with roasted potato wedges, homemade coleslaw, mac and cheese, or your favorite side dishes. Add your favorite bbq sauce or hot sauce, and you’ve got a party for your mouth!
Store any leftover chicken refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days. It can be kept frozen in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag for up to one month.
You can also use this recipe for roast chicken, spatchcock chicken, and if you have a grill with a rotisserie, you can make an amazing rotisserie chicken.
Smoking a chicken at higher temperatures is the best way to ensure you get crispy skin. The ideal temperature to smoke your chicken is 275 °F. Lower temperatures will result in rubbery skin.
No, you do not. But brining will add moisture and flavor to the chicken. Alternatively, you can do a dry rub, which achieves the same results without needing the extra room for the container.
Fruit woods like apple, cherry, or peach are excellent for chicken, providing a mild, sweet-smoke flavor. Hickory and oak are also good choices for a stronger smoke flavor. I like to combine fruit woods and hickory or oak for a balanced smoky flavor.