Avoiding Rubbery Skin

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by bbrock293, Apr 23, 2013.

  1. I am planning on doing my 1st chicken this weekend, or possibly just starting with some chicken thighs, etc. I have done some reading on here and had some questions about the skin. From what I read, people are finishing on the grill to make the skin crispy. Here are my questions:

    1. Is this needed if I can get my smoker up to 250-300?

    2. If so, what timeframe and temp would I finish on my gas grill?

    3. Is this needed if I brine?

    Any other tips are appreciated! Thanks guys.
  2. you can smoke it up til finishing and throw it on grill with temp of at least 300...never used brine so cant help ya there. ive always done my chickens on temps of about 320-325 for about 1.5hrs. whole chickens. and they always come out nice and crispy and plenty smoked! chicken,from what ive read on here and experienced myself just really takes on smoke soo much quicker than any other meat.

    hopefully someone with a bit more experience than me can chime in shortly..
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  3. michief

    michief Smoke Blower

    I do mine at 275 than toss onto the grill @ high for a few minutes on each side to crisp them and make sure they are cooked all the way through. I go for 2 - 2.5 and no brine

     I have found keeping the wings whole is best because it makes a large number of wings easier to flip :)

    I need to go get wings now... nom nom
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  4. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Brining is definately a plus..... but not a necesitty. It helps keep the chicken a lot moister and gives you another oportunity to add flavor.

    If you keep your temps low (250'ish), it helps keep the meat moist - even in the breasts. Then finish it off on a high heat grill or oven broiler for just a few minutes. This will give you a moist tender meat with crisp skin.
  5. drtre

    drtre Newbie

    I just did chicken for the first time last night.  Only did chicken legs. 

    Prep'd with a dry rub and cooked on smoker at 250F for 1.5hrs last 1/2  hour brought temp up to 300.  Skin was crispy and didn't even need to be grilled.

    Turned out juicy and frankly the best chicken I have ever cooked in the back yard.

  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Poultry isn't too fussy about temps when smoking and doesn't benefit much from low & slow. I've smoked anywhere from 225*-350*. Lower temps do help for better smoke reaction, but a heavier smoke up front can offset using higher temps to some extent.

    As far as getting crispier skin straight from the the smoker, there are a few tricks I've tried which all have merit. Starting the smoke @ 225* for the first hour will give better smoke, then bumping to 300*+ to reach finished temps helps the skin crisp up somewhat. If you dry the skin pretty well and then lather it up with a light coat of butter, olive oil or canola before applying dry rub adds to the surface fats for better crisping/caramelizing at more moderate smoke chamber temps of around 250-275*, and gets much crisper at temps over 300*...works well when you don't have a grill handy to finish them on, or when you can't push that 300*+ smoke chamber temp. If you have the ability to run with a dry smoke chamber after an hour or so helps as well, but is not the cure-all for crisp skin...use of surface fats prior to rubbing will help more with a dry smoke chamber for finishing it all up, but you need a wet smoke chamber for better smoke reaction at start-up of the smoking.

    When I say wet or dry smoke chamber, I'm referring to humidity...in vertical smokers, wet being with water in the pan, dry being with a thermal mass such as pea-gravel or sand. A foil catch over the water pan with a smaller smaller amount of water to evaporate during the start of the smoke, then letting this evaporate to transition to a dry smoke chamber is all that is really necessary to accomplish a wet-to-dry smoke chamber. If you'd like more info on that, PM and I'll send you links with the basics and methods I've used to make it happen...I use this for a wide variety of meats and get very good moisture retention in the meats...great bark on high finished temp meats such as brisket or pulled pork.

    I think overall that poultry is one of the easiest to smoke...just keep the internal temps reasonable when finished (165* min per USDA) and it will be moist. If you find a good skin-crisping method that works well for you and your smoker, then you've got all you need for great eating smoked yard-birds.

  7. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    These guys got you covered, but since I like adding my

    here goes...

    oh BTW

    Ditto on the dry smoke chamber.

    Before I ramble on, here is a post I made addressing this issue.


    Ok... hopefully that answered some concerns but I still want to ramble on...

    I would like to point out a few things.

    Rubs and slathers can help or can inhibit desired results.

    Chicken done low and slow will render the fat from the skin, this in itself is fine, I have done many wings, thighs, beer can chix where the skin is bite through and not rubbery.

    I have had success with getting skin somewhat crispy, what I mean by that is... when you are cooking low and slow, you render the fat and the skin gets a bit more of a thin papery texture, this is fine, especially if saucing, however, with that said, the way I like skin is deep fried or pan fried or done over direct heat on a grill.

    I really think you would get better results grill on high heat FIRST then smoking, what you are doing here is crisping the skin up before the fat is rendered.

    or drop the thighs in a deep fryer then smoke.

    Knowing the type of smoker you have will help in getting a more accurate answer, for example I am giving advice based on a stick burner,


    • Pit Smoked, turkey, chix, drums and thighs.

  8. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sqwib pointed out a method that a friend of mine has used to win with in several local competitions. Grill the chicken for 15-20 min., then smoke it low and slow. I am usually to lazy to do this, but it does produce wonderful results.
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Some Recipes you may enjoy. Good Luck...JJ

    Families Favorite Brine

    1/2C Kosher Salt

    2T Paprika

    2T Gran. Garlic

    2T Gran. Onion

    2T Dry Thyme

    2T Black Pepper

    1C Vinegar (Any)

    1-11/2Gal Cold Water to cover Chix

    1/2C Brown Sugar, Optional

    1T Red Pepper Flake Optional

    Starting Two Days out...

    Mix well and Soak the Bird over night or up to 24 Hours.

    Remove the Chix, rinse if desired and pat dry with paper towels.

    Place in an open container in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours for the Skin to dry.

    This will give a crispier skin when Smokng or Roasting...

    Bubba Chix Rub

    1/2C Raw Sugar

    2T Paprika (I use Smoked if I'm just Grilling)

    1T Cayenne

    1T Gran. Garlic

    1T Gran. Onion

    1tsp Black Pepper

    1tsp Wht Pepper

    1tsp Allspice

    1tsp Bell's Poultry Seasoning or Thyme

    Mix well. You can put directly on the skin or mix with Butter, Oil or Bacon Grease and rub on and under the Skin.

    Reduce Cayenne to 1teaspoon if less heat is desired.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2013
    smokingjamaican likes this.
  10. 05sprcrw

    05sprcrw Smoking Fanatic

    Those are some very fine looking birds, I am going to have to give this high temps first then low and slow? How long should I keep the bird in high temp before going low and slow?
  11. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    These Birds, Drums and Thighs were done 250°, the first pic was grilled. Sorry bout the confusion.

    These Pics are not done with the method I suggested, I was just posting to show what you can do at 250°

    Here's what I do with the skin when cooking on my pit. (To me the meat is more important than the skin...you can always fry the skin later)


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