Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: September 29, 2023

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, you have to ensure the temperature regulation of your smoker is monitored so that 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!

Quick Summary

  • Smoking a whole chicken involves temperature regulation, brine preparation, and the choice of wood for achieving the perfect smoky taste.
  • The process includes preparing a chicken brine, smoking the chicken at 250F, and maintaining a minimum internal temperature of 165F.
  • The dish is a healthy cooking method that preserves protein, eliminates extra fats, and retains other nutrients, with the added benefit of improved preservation.

Recipe Overview

Raw chicken on wooden board

The following is a simple step-by-step recipe with important hints and tips for smoked chicken preparation [1].

  • 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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  1. Prepare the chicken brine (as per the recipe below).
  2. Brine the chicken in a sealed container for 24 hours.
  3. Preheat the smoker to 250F, loading the smoker with the wood or wood pellets of your choice.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse with cool water, and pat dry with a paper towel.
  5. Tuck the wings underneath the front of the chicken to ensure the tips of the wings don’t burn.
  6. Tie up the legs of the chicken with kitchen twine; this reduces the likelihood of the legs burning and makes for a better presentation.
  7. Should the chicken come with giblets, remove and discard them.
  8. 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).
  9. When coating the chicken with the spice rub, make sure to loosen some of the skin to allow for coating of the meat underneath.
  10. 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).
  11. Allow the chicken to smoke between 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the bird.
  12. 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.
  13. Remove the chicken from the smoker and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
  14. Place the chicken on a platter and garnish with parsley.
  15. Add further seasoning or basting to the chicken to taste.

Chicken Brine Recipe

Close up image of chicken brine

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 [2].

  • 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)


  1. Put the water, salt, honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme, parsley, and lemons in a pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Leave to simmer between 3 to 4 minutes or until the salt has dissolved,
  3. Turn off the heat and allow the brine to cool to room temperature,
  4. Add the chicken (as per step 2 of the previous recipe) to the pot or a sealed container,
  5. Ensure the entire chicken is submerged, cover the pot or container, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Related Articles:

What Is The Best Wood For Smoked Chicken?

Wood pellets close up image

The best wood for smoked chicken includes hickory, maple, applewood, peachwood, and cherrywood [3]. Wood pellets you add to a smoker give the additional meat flavor.

Here's why:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 hardwood.
  3. 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 penetrate the meat in the smoker fully.
  4. 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.
  5. Cherry wood has a mild, sweet flavor. Cherry wood is perfect for balancing out the heavier, smokier flavors of wood, such as hickory wood.

Read More: Smoked Chicken Legs

Health Benefits Of Smoked Chicken

Freshly smoked chicken on plate

Along with added longevity of smoked meat in storage and unique flavor and texture profiles, smoking chicken is also considered a healthier method of preparing chicken [4].

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.

Isabella Adler of Next Luxury adds that smoking chicken leads to the formation of harmful compounds like PAHs and HCAs.

To reduce risk from such compounds, she provides some safety tips such as checking of internal temperature with a meat thermometer, using an outdoor smoker with proper ventilatio, and washing hands and surfaces.

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.

Also Read: Is Smoked Meat Bad For You?

How to Get the Perfect Smoked Whole Chicken...

While smoking a chicken requires effort, it provides a hearty and healthy meal for friends and family alike, particularly when time is taken to allow the 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.

Remember, the quality of your chicken plays a significant role in the final taste. Opting for a high-quality provider like ButcherBox ensures that you're starting with a premium product, setting the stage for a truly delicious smoked chicken. With ButcherBox, you're not just buying chicken, you're investing in a superior smoking experience.


  1. https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/smoked-chicken-recipe/
  2. https://www.dinneratthezoo.com/chicken-brine-recipe/
  3. https://www.charbroil.com/how-tos/tips-for-smoking-chicken-in-an-electric-smoker
  4. https://medium.com/@sonalbisht101/reasons-on-why-should-you-consider-eating-smoked-chicken-911ef8f5cc4d
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