Crisp skin, succulent meat, pervasive smokiness, a pronounced yet impeccably balanced spice rub—all traits we covet in a smoked chicken recipe. 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.
Why Our Testers Loved This
“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 bird off the smoker. We can understand why he got a little giddy. We think you will, too.
What You’ll Need to Make This
- Chicken–A 4-pound bird is perfect for the recipe. You can use a larger or smaller chicken, but note that the cooking time will change. You don’t need the giblets or gizzards. Freeze them then pull them out when making chicken stock or chicken gravy.
- BBQ Spice Rub--The recipe included here lends a subtle smoky flavor to the chicken. You can substitute your own favorite spice rub, if you prefer.
How to Make This Recipe
- Place the chicken on a baking sheet. Pat dry all over with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the dry rub over the chicken to coat. Alternatively, you can mix 1/2 cup of dry rub with 1 gallon of water to create a brine, then brine the chicken for 4 to 8 hours.
- Prepare a smoker for 225°F cooking. Place the chicken in the smoker and cook until ta meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the leg registers 165°F.
- Transfer to a platter and cool for 10 minutes before carving the chicken.
If that dry rub sounds just too good to pass up, but the weather’s not cooperating, you can absolutely roast this chicken in your oven. You can also add a couple of drops of liquid smoke to the rub, if you’re so inclined and have some to hand.
Prep the bird in the same way as above. Roast it in the oven as you usually would. You’ll get the same great flavors.
If you have a kettle grill, the intrepid authors of this recipe also have a method to turn your grill into a smoker.
This spice rub is incredibly versatile and can be used as your go-to BBQ dry rub. Rub it onto grilled pork chops, steaks, or smoked pork shoulder before grilling or smoking. It also makes a great seasoning to add to homemade breakfast sausage or hot smoked salmon.
Any time you are smoking meat, you want to choose a type of wood that complements the flavor of the meat. For chicken, choose mild woods like cherry, apple, or mesquite.
- To help the rub stick to the chicken, gently pat it into place with your hands after sprinkling it on the chicken.
- If you choose to brine the chicken, make sure the chicken is fully submerged in the brine. If you don’t have a pot suitable for this, fill a 2.5-gallon resealable bag with the brine and chicken, seal it, and place it in a large bowl.
- Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a warm oven or on a low grill until heated through.
More Superb Smoked Chicken Recipes
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If you make this recipe, or any dish on LC, consider leaving a review, a star rating, and your best photo in the comments below. I love hearing from you.–David
- Wood chunks or soaked wood chips
If using a brine
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup BBQ Dry Rub
If using a dry rub
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken
- 1/2 cup BBQ Dry Rub
- Pat the chicken dry, inside and out, with paper towels.
- 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 pour into 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.)
- Preheat a smoker to 225°F (107°C) or set up a grill for smoking.
- 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. Move the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
- 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.
- Rub the chicken–To help the rub stick to the chicken, gently pat it into place with your hands after sprinkling it on the chicken.
- Brining tips–If you choose to brine the chicken, make sure the chicken is fully submerged in the brine. If you don’t have a pot suitable for this, fill a 2.5-gallon resealable bag with the brine and chicken, seal it, and place it in a large bowl.
- Storage–Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Reheat in a warm oven or on a low grill until heated through.
Feeding the FireBuy On Amazon
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I chose to use the wonderful BBQ dry rub on my whole chicken because I was hoping to have a gorgeous, rustic smoked chicken. I wasn’t disappointed. It was succulent, delicious, and smoky, the perfect combination.
I used a bit more than 1/2 cup of dry rub. The recipe produces much more than that, but I was glad that it did, as I will be using the rub on many smoked meats in the future.
I brought my smoker up to temperature and heated it for 30 minutes or so. Once I got the temperature stabilized at 225°F, I added the chicken. It took just about 5 hours for my 6-pound chicken to reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
I like my skin crisp, so I finished the hen in the oven, as the recipe instructed at 450°F for about 8 minutes. I let the chicken rest for 10 minutes and then carved it.