How To Smoke A Whole Chicken

One of my favorite things to do during the summer is BBQ. Whether it is ribs, chicken, steak, burgers, hot dogs, links/sausage, or fish, I’m game. I look forward to Sunday afternoons where I have a long running tradition of hanging out in the backyard relaxing with an adult beverage while grilling more than enough food (my form of meal prepping).

I predominantly BBQ using a propane gas grill which I prefer over charcoal. My opinion is that gas grills are easier to clean, cheaper to fuel, provide more grilling flexibility, and have better temperature control than traditional charcoal grills. Though I love barbequing with my gas grill, I recently purchased a Masterbuilt electric smoker to try my hand at smoking. The smoker is awesome and includes a digital temperature and timer control, 4 racks, a removable water pan, and uses wood chips to smoke. Since purchasing it I had successfully smoked amazingly good pork ribs and tri-tip, but this past weekend I decided to try smoking a whole chicken.

Smoked Chicken Brine

I purchased a 4½ lb. free range chicken that was raised locally in Sonoma County, CA. The morning of the BBQ I prepared a brine to marinate the chicken in by mixing the following ingredients and submerging the chicken into a large pot:

1 gallon of water
½ cup of salt
½ cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 teaspoon of onion powder
2 teaspoon of Cajun spice

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Brining is important step when smoking chicken that many people overlook. Because chicken is very lean, brining helps the chicken to retain moisture and tenderness and not dry out from the smoke. It’s recommended to brine a whole chicken anywhere from 4-24 hours and I ended up brining mine for 8 hours.

 

Prepping The Smoker

After the brining I removed the chicken from the pot and rinsed it with cold water. I then patted it dry with paper towels and placed in on the cutting board. Knowing that I had roughly ½ hour until smoke time, I turned on the smoker to preheat and set the temperature for 235 degrees °F. I also grabbed about 1 ½ cups of apple woodchips and began soaking them in a bowl of water. Soaking the wood chips helps to maximize the amount of smoke.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Smoked Chicken Seasoning

I then gathered all the spices I needed to make a rub, as well as a 1 yellow onion, 1 head of garlic, and a quarter stick of butter.  I mixed the following ingredients together to make the rub n a small bowl:

1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoons Black pepper
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

I covered the chicken in olive oil and then proceeded to generously apply the rub on the outside of the bird, under the skin, and in the cavity.  I cut up the onion, smashed cloves of garlic, and cubed the butter to insert under the skin and in the cavity of the bird.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

 

Smoking The Chicken

Once the bird was rubbed and ready, I inserted it into the smoker, filled the water pan with water and a cube of chicken bouillon, and added some of soaked apple wood chips.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

I then set the timer for 3 ½ hours (~45 minutes per pound at 235 degrees °F.) and let the bird smoke. Every hour I would check on the bird and add more wood chips as needed. I would also spray the bird with a mix of 2 parts water, 1 part apple juice, and 1 part apple cider vinegar, to keep the bird moist. I used a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of the bird and when it hit 165 degrees °F I removed the bird to sit and rest for 15-30 minutes while I prepared a side.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

 

Smoked Chicken Side

I had green beans, bacon, shallots, onions, and garlic so I decided to make sautéed green beans. I diced the shallots, onions, garlic, and bacon and dropped them in a hot skillet with olive oil. Once the bacon fat began to melt and the onions and garlic began to brown, I added the green beans and some white wine to deglaze. I sautéed the green beans for a few minutes until they reached the right consistency and then plated and served both the green beans and chicken.

Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

The smoked chicken turned out to be incredibly good. The meat was tender and juicy with a great smoke flavor.  I’ll definitely be smoking another chicken soon and think that I might try a brisket next!


Smoker: HERE

Wood Chips: HERE

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2 Comments

  1. Alex
    July 21, 2017 / 5:57 pm

    Nice write up on your process from beginning to end. I also recently pickup up a smoker and love it. So far I’ve only done ribs and chicken. Please share your experience when you tackle the brisket! Cheers!

    • Matt
      July 24, 2017 / 12:09 am

      Thanks Alex! Will do on the brisket!

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