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First Smoking Project

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Update on the first smoking experience and a few questions.


Specifics:  30" non window MES, vent 50% open, 50/50 mix of dry mesquite/hickory added every 30 min, ambient conditions 20F and sunny, 1/2 C apple juice in pan with periodic apple juice spray, (2) 5.2 LB spatchcock whole chickens, one Cajun rub, one lemon pepper rub, pierced meat with a knife repeatedly to allow spices to penetrate, 1 HR with rub in fridge wrapped in plastic wrap prior to cooking, iGrill2 temp measurement, smoker temp 225F for 1HR 40MIN then 250F for 2HR until T internal = 165F, 3 LB mini red potatoes with olive oil/spices/wrapped in aluminum foil.  First chicken on #2 rack, second chicken on #3 rack, and potatoes on #4 rack.  Temp measured in thick part of top chicken breast.


Observations:  I removed the meat when the thermometer reached 165F.  Looked pretty good.


smokerdonecompressed.jpg 68k .jpg file

cajundonecompressed.jpg 94k .jpg file


But....I typically visually judge chicken by it still being juicy and the joints separating easily and the meat easily releasing from the bone.  This was not the case.  The juices were clear, and it was very juicy (except the front of the breasts which I cut the skin off, never again).  The flavor was more pronounced once the meat cooled slightly and was good.  I still put it into the oven at 350F for another 30 MIN on convection roast to cook longer.  This made me feel better that it was fully cooked but also dried it out.  Flavor was good in both chickens, and as mentioned previously, the smoke flavor was better/more evident once the meat cooled slightly.  The potatoes also turned out good.



  1. Is it typical for smoked chicken to stick to the bone and for the joints to be "tougher" than grilled chicken?
  2. Should I cook until say 170F or higher?
  3. Should I start off at 250F next time?
  4. Does opening the door to spray apple juice have a significant impact on cooking time?
  5. Any other general comments appreciated.


Thanks for the feedback,


post #2 of 7



Ok now that is out of the way.First thing would be to drink the apple juice and leave the water pan empty or fill it with sand, gravel, etc.... Not necessary to use water in your smoker especially when it is cold outside. Yes I know, the manual says. Second thing I see is that you did not cook that chicken long enough. Now I didn't see your pictures because I don't download other people's pictures. Sometimes the breast temp is not the only indicator of a whole chicken being done. I like to test the thigh temp too before I pull a chicken out of the smoker. I have never had one take less than 2 hours at those temps. I think you were close, just not quite there. Poultry does not benefit as much from long slow cooking like what you did. That said, I cook at 225-250 and then jack the temp at the end to crisp the skin and give it that little extra to make sure it's done. A lot of folks will smoke chicken at 300 or more degrees at least for part of the time. Spritzing chicken is a problem because you want that skin dry. Dry skin crisps up and also allows the smoke to penetrate through it much more than wet skin. I always dry my birds really good before putting the rub on. I never oil, never spritz, no water in the smoker. Moist, juicy, smoky, and crispy skin every time.  I have chicken in mine right now. A final note. Yes, opening the door does prolong the process and that coupled with having water in there makes for say a 2.5 hour cook with what you had going on in there.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tip on the picutre inserts and the other helpful information.

Picture of where the meat/potatoes were placed.


Picture of finished cajun chicken.  Based on your feedback, I would agree it was undercooked as the skin was definately NOT crispy.  :icon_eek:

post #4 of 7
The safe cook temp for poultry is 165, measured either in the thickest part of the breast or thigh. For your smoker if you are looking for edible skin n I would crank the temp up as high as it will go (275 I believe). No spritzing, leave the door closed. Dry the skin. The best method is to leave the bird uncovered in the fridge for 8-12 hours. If you don't have the time or the skin is still moist, hit it with the hair dryer on low right before putting it in the smoker. I do all my birds at temps above 325.since that's not an option in your smoker you can take the bird to 145-150 IT then finish on a grill or in a 425 degree oven. I see you Spatched the birds. That is one of the best ways to get an even cook a and will also help with getting the skin to crisp up better. I also prefer a dry smoke chamber and do not add water or any other liquid during the cook.
post #5 of 7

yeahthat.gif and it will turn out great every time.

Happy smoken.


post #6 of 7

Gives you an excuse to do another one



post #7 of 7

these guys here have done a lot of smoking, they KNOW SMOKING, so i would listen to what they have to say. we can all learn something from them.

thanks guys


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