Grilling season is here, and that means it is time to share our method on the best way to smoke a chicken.

We absolutely love using our smoker in the summer. There is just something about slow cooking outdoors that makes your mouth water.

You are watching: How To Smoke A Chicken In A Smoker

how to smoke a chicken
An entire chicken smoked in our electric smoker.

From the time that the smell of the smoke begins to pour out of the smoker and into the air, to that first sight of your meat ready to be pulled off the rack, the excitement is almost too much to bear.

We have shared our recipes on how to Smoke Chicken Wings and How To Smoke a Brisket. However, we recently have received a lot of requests on our preferred method to smoke a whole chicken.

We cook whole chickens quite often at our house. Not only to eat as a family meal, but also to use as a meal prep dish that can be used for various recipes throughout the week.

In the winter we typically will roast a whole chicken in the oven. Or if we want to save time, we will use our Air Fryer Whole Chicken Recipe.

However, in the summer, we don’t want to heat up the kitchen. Therefore we tend to use our Instant Whole Chicken Recipe or fire up the smoker.

The Best Way To Smoke A Chicken

Over the years we have discovered the absolute best and fail-proof method for smoking an entire chicken.

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As you may imagine, it does involve applying oil and dry rub to the skin of the chicken. However, there is one crucial step you must do prior to seasoning.

And that involves spatchcocking the chicken. If you have never heard of this term, let me explain.

spatchcock instructions
It is easy to remove the backbone with a sharp pair of kitchen shears.

Spatchcocking is a term referred to cutting out the backbone of the chicken and then spreading it out before cooking.

This method ensures that the entire chicken will cook at the same rate and will be moist and juicy throughout. Too many times chicken is cooked in the same shape as when you pull it out of the package.

If you smoke a chicken in its original form, you risk the breast meat turning out dry while the thighs cook to a safe temperature.

However, if you spatchcock the chicken prior to smoking, the entire bird gets cooked at the same rate. Which of course leads to a moist and delicious, fall apart tender, smoked chicken.

How To Spatchcock a Chicken

The only thing that you need to spatchcock your chicken is a sharp pair of kitchen shears.

First, flip the bird over so that the backbone is exposed. Next, starting at the cavity, cut up one side of the backbone. Once you cut one side completely, cut the other side and remove the bone.

*Be sure to save the backbone for when you make Homemade Chicken Broth.

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Now, flip the chicken over so that the cut side is on the cutting board. Using the palm of you hand, press down in the center of the breasts and crack the bone.

break the chicken breast
Once you flip your chicken over, push hard at the center of the breastbone so that it lays flat.

At this point, your chicken should be laying flat. Pull the legs outward and tuck the wing tips under or remove them prior to cooking.

Season the Chicken

After your chicken has been cut, it is time to season the bird. Start by rubbing oil on both sides of the chicken.

Then sprinkle your preferred dry rub on both the underside and skin side. You can buy pre-made dry rub seasoning to smoke your chicken, or make your own. I have used both McCormick’s Applewood Rub and our homemade rub that we use for pulled pork, and both turn out delicious.

seasoned chicken before smoking
Rub oil on both sides of the chicken and then sprinkle the rub on top and inside the cavity.

Just be sure to let the rub sit until the seasonings are absorbed into the oil.

Place the chicken in a preheated smoker set at 225°F and filled with light wood chips such as apple, pecan or mesquite. We use an electric smoker which allows you to regulate the temperature much easier than a propane or pellet smoker.

Continue to smoke until the internal temperature of the breast and thigh reaches 165°F when tested with a digital thermometer. If you want to add barbecue sauce, do so when the internal temperature reaches 150°F so that the sauce has time to caramelize.

After you remove the chicken from the smoker, allow it to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. This additional time will allow the juices to be reabsorbed into the meat, making it nice and juicy!

cooked smoked chicken
The chicken has reached temperature and is ready to rest before slicing and serving.

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