This smoked chicken recipe is a whole chicken coated in homemade spice rub, then slow smoked to tender, juicy perfection. This is some of the best chicken I’ve ever eaten, it’s full of flavor and couldn’t be any easier to make.

Smoked whole chicken is the latest in my smoking recipe series. I’ve brought you some of the basics like smoked chicken thighs and smoked chicken wings, now it’s time to try our hand with a whole bird!

Smoked chicken on a serving platter garnished with parsley.

I’m back with yet another smoker recipe and this smoked chicken might be my favorite so far! The chicken is incredibly moist and packed with that delicious smoky flavor. No dry, tough chicken around here!

This smoked chicken is one of my favorite dinner recipes. You can enjoy this chicken with my favorite side dishes like oven baked potatoes, grilled brussels sprouts and three bean salad.

Smoked Chicken Ingredients

To make this smoked chicken recipe you will need chicken brine, a whole chicken, BBQ spice rub and parsley to garnish your dish.

Raw poultry in a roasting pan.

How Do You Prepare A Whole Chicken?

To get a chicken ready to go into the smoker, you’ll need to do a few things. I recommend that you brine your chicken to season it and lock in moisture for the smoking process. The next step once you remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry is to tuck the wings underneath the front of the chicken. This will ensure that the wing tips don’t burn. The second step is to tie up the legs with a piece of kitchen twine. The legs will be less likely to burn if they’re close to the chicken, plus it makes for a neater presentation. If your chicken comes with giblets, be sure to remove and discard those too.

How Do You Smoke A Whole Chicken?

When you make this smoked chicken recipe heat your smoker and load it with wood chips. Next prepare your chicken for cooking and place it in a foil pan. Then coat your chicken in BBQ spice rub and place it in your heated smoker. When the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F, remove the chicken from the heat. Let it rest for a few minutes, carve it and enjoy!

A raw bird is coated with homemade spice rub in a roasting pan.

Tips For The Perfect Smoked Chicken

  • I like to use disposable aluminum pans to reduce the mess. You can find these pans in your local grocery store. They look like stiff aluminum foil. However, if you want to smoke your chicken directly on a rack or grill in your smoker, that’s fine too.
  • Coat your entire chicken in the BBQ rub. You want every part of your chicken to have that good flavor. I like to loosen the skin of the chicken and rub some of the seasonings between the skin and the meat, as well as all over the outside of the chicken.
  • You can make your own homemade BBQ rub or use your favorite store bought rub.
  • I recommend brining your bird using my chicken brine recipe which makes for delicious and juicy meat.
  • If you don’t brine your chicken, consider basting the chicken with a little chicken broth every hour or so.
  • You can add seasoning to the meat after the smoking process by brushing on a sauce such as my homemade BBQ sauce.

Quick Tip

Spray your pan with a little cooking spray to keep the chicken from sticking to the pan.

A whole smoked chicken in a roasting pan.

Recipe FAQs

What wood is best for smoking chicken?

I like to use apple wood chips to smoke my chicken because they impart a mild, sweet tasting smoke that complements the chicken perfectly. Other great options include cherry, pecan, mesquite, hickory or maple woods.

When is smoked chicken done?

Smoked chicken is ready to eat when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. I recommend using an electric probe thermometer that can be left in the chicken as it cooks so that you can continuously monitor the temperature.

How long does it take to smoke a chicken?

The size of your chicken will dictate how long your chicken takes to cook. Roughly speaking, it takes about 3-5 hours to smoke a whole bird, or approximately 45 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F.

Do you have to brine a chicken before you smoke it?

You do not necessarily need to brine your chicken, but a brine is the best way to ensure that your meat is seasoned all the way through. If you just put a spice rub on the skin of your chicken, your meat will not be seasoned underneath.  A soak in salt water, herbs and spices infuses all that great flavor into every bit of the chicken.

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Carved smoked chicken including drumsticks, wings and chicken breasts on a serving platter.

Smoked Chicken Variations

While this chicken is delicious as-is, you can modify the recipe to suit your own taste.

  • Seasonings: You can add to your BBQ rub some seasonings to change the flavor like my Cajun seasoning, creole seasoning, fajita seasoning or Jamaican jerk seasoning.
  • Spicy: Add chili powder to your rub for a spicier chicken.
  • Butter: You can mix your rub with melted butter and coat your chicken. You could also brush a little olive oil over your chicken before adding your spice rub.

This smoked chicken is everything you’d ever want in a chicken, it makes other whole chicken recipes seem dry and tasteless in comparison. The key is to be generous with the seasoning, then patient while the smoker does its work!

What To Serve With Chicken

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Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & a review in the comments section further down the page.

5 from 36 votes

Smoked Chicken

AuthorSara Welch
Smoked chicken on a serving platter garnished with parsley.
This smoked chicken recipe is a whole chicken coated in homemade spice rub, then slow smoked to tender juicy perfection. This is some of the best chicken I’ve ever eaten, it’s full of flavor and couldn’t be any easier to make.
Time
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 10 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Serves 6

Ingredients 

  • 1 recipe chicken brine optional but recommended
  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 1/4 cup BBQ Spice Rub
  • parsley for garnish optional

Instructions 

  • Prepare the chicken brine as directed in the brine recipe (link is in the ingredients list). Brine the chicken for 24 hours. 
  • If you’re short on time, you can skip brining the chicken and still have a good result.
  • Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F. Load the smoker with apple wood chips or wood chips of your choice.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Tuck the wings underneath the chicken and tie up the legs with kitchen twine.
  • Place the chicken in a disposable aluminum pan and coat the chicken with the spice rub. Be sure to loosen the skin and rub some of the seasoning directly onto the meat underneath the skin.
  • Place the chicken in the smoker. Smoke for 3.5-4.5 hours or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. You will need to replenish wood chips during the cook time, so keep an eye on your smoker.
  • Remove the chicken from the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Place the chicken on a platter. Garnish with parsley if desired. Carve the chicken, then serve.

Notes

  1. Spray your pan with a little cooking spray to keep the chicken from sticking to the pan.
  2. I like to use disposable aluminum pans to reduce the mess. 
  3. Coat your entire chicken in the BBQ rub. Loosen the skin of the chicken and rub some of the seasonings between the skin and the meat, as well as all over the outside of the chicken.

Nutrition

Calories: 312kcal | Protein: 26g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 274mg | Vitamin A: 205IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1.3mg

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The flavors were so rich and the meat was incredibly tender. It was a hit at my family gathering and I will definitely be making it again.

  2. 5 stars
    This turned out so well! The chicken was super tender and juicy, and the spice rub was packed with flavor – it was a great main dish for our dinner last night!

  3. 5 stars
    Oh man, this smoked chicken looks so good and juicy! I can’t wait to try this recipe over the weekend – my family is coming over and I’m sure it will impress them!

  4. 5 stars
    Delicious! I didn’t brine, and the chicken had wonderful flavor and was moist. I may try brining in the future just to see what the difference tastes like.

    1. The thigh is typically thicker than the breast, you want to find the thickest part of the chicken to insert the thermometer into to make sure the whole thing is cooked through.

  5. 5 stars
    Very good recipe…thank you for sharing. This was my first time smoking a whole chicken and it turned out amazing

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe I love it the chicken turned out just wonderful and I didn’t even get a chance to eat but one leg everybody ate the rest

  7. 5 stars
    I made this over the weekend and it turned out AMAZING. I highly suggest using the BBQ Spice Rub in the recipe AND a pan. The juices that came off the chicken with the rub applied were so good my hubby drank it. He said it was like drinking a bbq potato chip. This is a great recipe and I can’t wait to try more. Thank you so much!!!

  8. 5 stars
    The best! The bird is so tender and the rub imparts so much flavor. I have smoked these for numerous people and they are all amazed how tender and flavor able the meat is

  9. 5 stars
    This is a great recipe. it was juicy and tender. I like using the pan, easy clean up. I used my own rub and put butter under the skin. Very good!