Smoking chicken can be a daunting task, but thankfully our team of meat experts has compiled a simple recipe to help you!
To smoke a whole chicken, care must be taken to ensure the temperature regulation of your smoker is monitored to ensure the chicken turns out to your liking.
Further considerations, such as brine preparation and the wood used, are also crucial to achieving that perfect, smoky taste!
- While smoking chicken is relatively simple, the preparation of brine as an additional step can be labor-intensive and lengthy.
- Different woods add unique characteristics to the flavor and texture of the meat being smoked.
- Smoked chicken is a healthy method of cooking that has the added benefit of improved preservation.
The following is a simple step by step recipe, with important hints and tips for smoked chicken preparation .
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 4 hours
- Total time: 4 hours and 10 minutes
- Servings: 6
- 4 – 5 lb Whole Chicken,
- ¼ Cup of BBQ Spice Rub of Choice,
- Parsley for Garnish,
- Chicken Brine (See recipe below)
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- Prepare the chicken brine (as per the recipe below),
- Brine the chicken in a sealed container for 24 hours,
- Preheat the smoker to 250F, loading the smoker with the wood or wood pellets of your choice,
- Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cool water, and pat dry with a paper towel,
- Tuck the wings underneath the front of the chicken to ensure the tips of the wings don’t burn,
- Tie up the legs of the chicken with kitchen twine; this reduces the likelihood of the legs burning and makes for a better presentation,
- Should the chicken come with giblets, remove and discard them,
- Place the chicken on an aluminum pan and coat the chicken with the BBQ spice rub (either homemade or store-bought depending on personal preference),
- When coating the chicken with the spice rub, make sure to loosen some of the skin to allow for coating of the meat underneath,
- Alternatively, the aluminum pan can be foregone in favor of placing the chicken directly on a rack in the smoker for improved smoke penetration (note: this does result in further cleaning of the smoker after use),
- Allow the chicken to smoke between 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the bird.
- While smoking, maintain the temperature in a smoker by inserting a thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken to ensure the chicken stays at a minimum of 165F throughout the smoking process,
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and allow it to rest for 10 minutes,
- Place the chicken on a platter and garnish with parsley,
- Add further seasoning or basting to the chicken to taste.
Chicken Brine Recipe:
While the chicken doesn’t have to be brined before smoking, it is highly recommended as this improves the taste and texture of the chicken .
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total time: 20 minutes (excluding 30 minutes of cool time)
- Servings: 12
- 8 Cups of Water,
- ¼ Cup Honey,
- 3 Dried Bay Leaves,
- 5 Cloves of Garlic,
- 1 Tablespoon of Black Peppercorns,
- 3 Sprigs of Rosemary,
- 3 Sprigs of Thyme,
- 3 Sprigs of Parsley,
- 2 Lemons,
- ½ Cup of Kosher Salt (note: do not use table or sea salt)
- Put the water, salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and lemons in a pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Leave to simmer between 3 to 4 minutes or until the salt has dissolved,
- Turn off the heat and allow the brine to cool to room temperature,
- Add the chicken (as per step 2 of the previous recipe) in the pot or a sealed container,
- Ensure the entire chicken is submerged, cover the pot or container, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
What Is The Best Wood For Smoked Chicken?
While charcoal can be used to smoke chicken, it is advisable to use wood pellets in a smoker to add additional flavor to the smoking process.
The following wood types provide different flavors and textures to the smoking process .
- Hickory is a hardwood that has a sweet to strong taste. Hickory wood burns slowly, meaning that you should be conservative with the amount used, as too much can result in a bitter taste. Hickory is best used with cherry wood.
- Maple has a slightly less intense flavor than hickory wood. It also burns slowly and is very hot while having a particularly sweet flavor as a hardwood.
- Applewood is considered a favorite wood to use for smoking chicken and other birds. Applewood has a mild and fruity taste that takes time to fully penetrate the meat in the smoker.
- Peachwood is a favorite wood in Southern cooking. Peachwood imparts a mild, sweet flavor to the chicken. It is important to use freshly cut peach wood, as older wood quickly loses its flavor.
- Cherry wood has a mild, sweet flavor. Cherry wood is perfect for balancing out the heavier, smokier flavors of wood, such as hickory wood.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Smoked Chicken?
Smoking is the ideal method of preserving the high amount of protein in the chicken while eliminating extra fats.
Smoking also allows the chicken to retain other nutrients that typically get lost in other methods of cooking.
Smoked food is also a source of antioxidant and antimicrobial agents.
However, caution must be taken not to overindulge in smoking, given the quantity of salt typically used when preparing chicken for the smoking process.
How to Get the Perfect Smoked Whole Chicken...
Smoked chicken, while a relatively labor-intensive method of cooking chicken, provides a hearty and healthy meal for friends and family alike! Particularly when time is taken to allow chicken to marinate in a well-made brine solution.
Furthermore, you should be encouraged to mix and match the wood used to achieve your ideal smoky taste and texture.