The Best Smoked Chicken Recipe
Jun 28, 2021, Updated Jul 06, 2023
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The Best Smoked Chicken Recipe – delicious tender, juicy spatchcocked chicken in the smoker with crispy skin and a smoky, crunchy crust.
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Spatchcocked Smoked Chicken
This method is the best way to smoke a whole chicken – it is tender, juicy, and delicious – with a great smoke ring and delicious spice rub cooked over wood chips – great for cookouts, parties, and picnics.
You can serve this smoked chicken as a main dish, or serve it on salads, in sandwiches, in tacos, wraps, burritos, and more – it is incredibly versatile and insanely delicious!
We designed this recipe to be keto appropriate, as we’re using a dry rub that is easy to adapt to seasonings and a bbq sauce you love, and you can always change up what wood or smoke you use, too!
Be sure to check out our other favorite smoked recipes (from my husband Luke, our in-house pitmaster) like our Smoked Pork Ribs Recipe, Smoked Brisket Recipe, Perfect Smoked Turkey, and Smoked Pulled Pork.
We hope you love this recipe as much as we do!
How to Smoke Whole Chicken
Spatchcock. Spatchcocking does not mean removing all bones from the chicken – as the wing and thigh bones will remain in the chicken.
Spatchcock might sound like a complicated and scary cooking term – but it really just means to de-bone part of your chicken, so that it can lay flat for cooking to promote quicker, more even heat circulation.
By removing the breastbone of the chicken, you can ensure the chicken breast and thigh meat cook at the same time, so that the meat does not dry out.
Using your boning knife or chicken sheers, cut down each side of the back bone in order to remove it.
Once you’re removed the back bone, cut the wishbone that connects the two breasts in order for your chicken to lay flat.
Your chicken will cook more evenly and quicker when you’ve spatchcocked it.
This method also makes cutting chicken to serve extremely easy.
This method to smoke chicken is amazing because you can go so many ways with it – and change up the flavors you want to profile based on what rub you use!
If you’re making your own rub, you’ll want to focus on garlic, cumin, turmeric, paprika, a little brown sugar, onion, salt, black pepper, and a touch of cayenne or aleppo pepper.
You can find some of our favorite smoked chicken rubs available for purchase here:
- Meat Church the Gospel Rub (what we used in photos)
- Traeger Chicken Rub
- Poultry Perfection Rub
- Chicken Sh*t
- Bang Bang Chicken Seasoning
Tools You Need To Smoke Chicken. Smoking takes a bit more equipment than many other types of cooking, but if you already have a smoker, you likely have everything else you need to make this smoked chicken on hand:
- Poultry sheers
- Boning knife
- Plastic cutting board
- Paper towel
- Sheet tray and cooling rack
- Foil to cover
- Temperature probe. We recommend either the Thermoworks Signals or Smoke model.
We smoke on a Kamado Joe Big Joe II, but this recipe works on a Traeger, Big Green Egg, or other smokers, including electric smokers.
Smoking a chicken is a pretty straightforward process, but we’re going to break down the steps so it’s easy to understand before you fire up the smoker.
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. This helps your rub stick to the chicken and prevents chicken from giving off too much water.
- Wash your hands often to prevent the risk of salmonella.
- Spatchcock your chicken – removing breast bones help to evenly cook chicken meat.
- Season well – chicken has a neutral flavor, and can use a lot of seasoning to shine!
- Let chicken come to room temperature before placing on smoker.
- Aim for a pit temperature around 250-275 degrees.
- Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
- Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving to let juices redistribute and to finish any carryover cooking.
Chicken is fully cooked at 165 degrees when probed with a digital thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the chicken, taking care to not hit bone.
Smoked chicken can be a little tricky to tell doneness by its appearance, since chicken develops a bit of a ring from smoke, giving it a pinkish hue which can throw you off if you’re not used to smoking chicken, as it could look uncooked – though it is actually very much cooked through.
Always rely on a meat thermometer to gauge correct temperature instead of cook time for accurate results.
What To Serve With Smoked Chicken
Smoked chicken is an incredibly versatile main dish that goes with just about anything – try it with Air Fryer Corn on the Cob, 4th Of July Sugar Cookie Bars, Slow Cooker Baked Beans, Spicy Grilled Watermelon, Cranberry Basil Margarita, or some icy cold Easy Frozen Gin and Tonics!
You can find some of our favorite side dishes below:
To see the rest of our side dishes, please click here for our side dish recipe archives.
Other Grilled & Smoked Recipes You’ll Love
If you’re ready to break out your Traeger, Big Green Egg, Kamado Joe, Weber, or other smoker or grill, we’re sharing our other favorite recipes made over fire and smoke:
Find our entire grill and smoker recipe archives here.
Smoked chicken can last for up to four days in an airtight container in the refrigerator, or frozen for up to four months.
Smoked chicken is fully cooked when the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees internal temperature with a digital meat thermometer.
The Best Smoked Chicken Recipe
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- Whole fryer young chicken(s)
- Garlic powder
- I used Meat Church’s The Gospel seasoning
- Remove the chicken(s) from their packaging, rinse with cold water, and pat dry with paper towel.
- Using your boning knife or chicken sheers, cut down each side of the back bone in order to remove it.
- Once you’re removed the back bone, cut the wishbone that connects the two breasts in order for your chicken to lay flat.
- Season — Place your butchered chickens on your sheet tray and season aggressively (on both sides) with the seasoning of your choice.
- Let chickens rest for 15-45 minted to allow the seasoning to adhere and the skin to dry out a little. This will help make the skin crispier.
- Cook — Prepare and light your grill or smoker for indirect heat at 275 degrees. I added some chunks of oak to my Kamado Joe for a slightly smokey chicken.
- Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165o F. On my KJ, this took about 2.5 hours at 250-275 Pitt temperature.
- Remove the chicken from the heat and rest for 10-15 minutes.
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 115Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 46mgSodium 276mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 13g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.