How to make the best smoked chicken? It’s easy. All you need is a basic brine or spice rub, a smoker or grill, and a little patience.
“This smoked chicken makes me giddy!” Those were the exact words typed by one of our most trusted recipe testers, Larry Noak, moments after he hauled his hen off the smoker. Crisp skin, succulent meat, pervasive smokiness, a pronounced yet impeccably balanced spice rub—all traits we covet in a smoked chicken recipe. We can understand why he got a little giddy. We think you will, too. To make this smoked chicken recipe, the authors simply took a dry rub and turned it into a brine. You can make this the same way or you can skip the brine and instead simply apply the dry rub to the skin. This recipe has been updated. Originally published August 16, 2015.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Special Equipment: Wood chunks or soaked wood chips
Smoked Chicken Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 10 M
- 5 H, 30 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- If using a brine
- 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup Fette Sau Dry Rub
- If using a dry rub
- 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds)
- 1/2 cup Fette Sau Dry Rub
- 1. Pat the chicken dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
- 2. If brining the chicken
In a stock pot, bring the water and dry rub to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Let the brine cool to room temperature, then transfer to a nonreactive container and refrigerate until chilled. Add the chicken to the cold brine and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the chicken from the brine, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on the wire rack. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 6 hours. Discard the brine.
If using just the dry rub
Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and coat the chicken lightly all over with some of the dry rub. (You may not need all the rub.)
- 3. Preheat a smoker to 225°F (107°C) or set up a grill for smoking.
- 4. Place the chicken in the smoker and let it do its thing, maintaining a smoker temperature between 200°F and 225°F (93°C and 107°C) and replenishing the wood chunks or chips as needed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a chicken leg registers 165°F (74°C). The total smoking time should be between 3 and 5 hours. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
- 5. At this point, you can either carve the chicken into quarters or you can tear or shred the meat to make pulled chicken. Or, if you want extra-crisp skin, you can briefly roast the chicken in a 450°F (232°C) oven or prepare a grill for indirect cooking (with hot and cool sides), place the chicken over the cool side, cover the grill, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Smoked Chicken Drumsticks from The Food in My Beard
- Tea-Smoked Grilled Chicken with Star Anise & Orange from Blue Kitchen
- Smoked Pickled Potatoes with Anchovy Aioli from Leite's Culinaria
- Smoked Turkey from Leite's Culinaria
Smoked Chicken Recipe © 2015 Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald. Photo © 2015 William Hereford. All rights reserved.
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