How To Smoke A Whole Chicken (4 Easy Steps)

Are you looking for an easy to follow guide on smoking a whole chicken? 

You’re in the right place!

In this guide, you’ll learn: 

  • How to make your own dry rub for your chicken
  • Time and temp of your yard bird
  • How to smoke a whole chicken (4 step guide)
  • And much more!
How To Smoke A Whole Chicken

The weekend is the perfect time to cook something that you normally wouldn’t be able to do on a busy working day.

Smoking chicken, thankfully, is pretty low maintenance as you don’t have to keep turning your meat, unlike with a grill.

Smoked chicken is the best way to serve chicken and it’s an easy recipe to follow!

Low and slow, with plenty of smoked flavor — this is a meal people will be smacking their fingers and lips for!

Table of Contents

What You Need To Know About Smoked Whole Chicken?

The first thing you should know about smoking a whole chicken is that YOU can do it.

Whether you’re an intermediate or a complete newb, you’ve got this!

One thing to note before you make your smoked chicken is that this method can result in dry, leathery, chicken skin.

A good way to avoid leathery chicken skin is to slather on a generous coating of olive oil to the chicken prior to seasoning it with the rub.

Doing this will make the chicken skin soft. If you’d prefer having crispy chicken skin, amp up the heat in your smoker.

Read More >> Top 5 Best Lump Charcoal For Smoking (2021 Review)

How Long Should I Smoke My Chicken for?

It should take about 3 1/2 to 4 hours for smoked whole chicken when smoking at 225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Of course, the time may vary slightly depending on size. 

When your chicken is done, the internal temperature of the breast should be somewhere between 160 to 165 degrees F, while the thighs should be somewhere between 170 to 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep a meat thermometer nearby to make sure that you can monitor the internal temperature of your chicken as well.

Pro Tip >> This is even easier on a pellet grill or smoker that can regulate temperature for you.

How To Make Chicken Rub?

We love a good rub, and you can customize this chicken dry rub according to your palate.

You can omit the cayenne if you don’t like it too spicy, add herbs you love to get your personal touch. You get the idea. 

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper

This will make enough for a couple of whole chickens.

You can also make huge batches of this rub and just store it in an airtight container inside the refrigerator for maximum shelf-life.

How To Smoke A Whole Chicken Facts

How To Smoke A Whole Chicken (4 Easy Steps)

  1. Preheat Your Smoker To 225ºF
  2. Season The Whole Chicken
  3. Smoke Your Chicken
  4. Slice and Serve!

Now that you’ve got your chicken and rub ready, it’s time for some smoking! 

Step 1: Preheat Your Smoker To 225ºF

Get the heat going in the smoker you’re using for this delicious chicken.

Get it to a steady temperature of 225 degrees F. 

Throw some wood chips on right before going to Step 2. 

Read More >> Top 5 Woods For Smoking Chicken

Step 2: Season the Whole Chicken

Drizzle the whole chicken with olive oil and season it generously on all sides with the dry rub.

Make sure you get in all those crevices!

Step 3: Smoke Your Chicken

Place the chicken directly onto your smoker’s grates and close the lid.

Smoking should take anywhere from 3 1/2 to 4 hours. 

The internal temperature of the chicken breasts should be 165 degrees F, while the thighs should fall between 170-175ºF. 

Optional Step

Towards the end of cooking, you can baste it with your favorite barbecue sauce if that’s your style.

This step is entirely optional, though, as the chicken will taste just as good with just the rub itself.

If you want that glazed look to your chicken, on the other hand, then BBQ sauce will do the trick!

Step 4: Slice and Serve!

Remove the chicken carefully from the smoker, place it onto a nice dinner place, take out your sharp carving knife, and start slicing!

My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Whole Chicken?

At 225 degrees F,  it will take between 3 1/2 to 4 hours to get to an internal temperature of 165ºF, which is the safe temp for smoked whole chicken.

What Side of Chicken Goes Up When Smoking?

Place your chicken with the breast side up when smoking. This keeps them as far away from direct heat which helps prevent them from drying out. 

Do You Flip Whole Chicken When Smoking?

Flipping your chicken when smoking it can do more harm than good. Because smoking uses indirect heat, there is no need to flip it as both sides should be cooked evenly.

The last thing you’d want is to drop it on the ground or splash hot juices all over you. Instead, the best chicken smoked whole is left alone during the entire process. 

Do You Have to Brine a Whole Chicken Before Smoking?

Because chicken doesn’t have a lot of fat that can make it juicy, brining is a great way to keep your smoked chicken from becoming dry

You can simply use water and salt as your brine and let the chicken sit in it fully submerged, in the fridge, the night before smoking it. 

If you’re in a pinch, though, skipping the brine won’t ruin your chicken.

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Shawn Hill

Shawn Hill

Hey, I’m Shawn and I run this site. With a wife and 7 kids, I get most of my grilling practice from feeding my own family.

I’m here to help you learn more about grilling, smoking, and backyard BBQ! With almost a decade of manning the grill and helping over 25,000 aspiring grill masters, you’re in great hands!

I’ve tried just about every type of grill, accessory, and gadget you can imagine. Because of that, I am here to help guide you to the best of the best and help you save time and money by avoiding the junk.

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