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First Smoked Chicken - Success - Details and Q-View

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

My first smoked chicken came out great. I got lots of good info from SMF and a couple of books (“Low & Slow” by Wiviott and “Smoke & Spice” by Jamison). I did three chickens, beer-can style (I used soda cans because all my beer is in bottles).


The chicken was brined about 12 hours in a modified Slaughterhouse brine. I had to make several modifications due to the diet needs of some of the guests. The brine:

            1 1/2 gallons water

            1/2 cup kosher salt

            1/2 cup brown sugar

            1 tsp garlic powder

            1 tsp onion powder


The chicken was rinsed and dried. A paste was applied under the skin over the breast:

            1 stick unsalted butter

            1 tbsp garlic powder

            1 tbsp onion powder


Next the chicken was coated with olive oil, inside and out. Then a rub was applied. Two birds had my standard rub:

            2 parts garlic powder

            2 parts onion powder

            2 parts paprika

            2 parts dark brown sugar

            1 part kosher salt

            1 part black pepper

The other chicken was rubbed with equal parts garlic powder and onion powder.


The cans were half filled with apple juice, chickens placed over cans, and onions stuffed into the neck holes.


My 18.5” WSM was loaded with 1 chimney unlit and 1 chimney lit coals; no water in the pan. Seven pieces of peach wood were used for smoke, pruned from my trees last spring. All vents were 100% open.


The chicken smoked for 1 1/2 hours; until the thigh temperature reached 180*; the smoker temp started at 310* and steadily increase to 350*. The chickens rested 20 minutes and were devoured. The meat was moist, the skin crisp, and it had a gentle, sweet smoke flavor.


Ready to smoke. The paler bird has the garlic and onion powder rub.

SmokedChicken7-26-2010 001.jpg


Just off the smoker.

SmokedChicken7-26-2010 002.jpg


Ready to carve.

SmokedChicken7-26-2010 003.jpg


 I was very happy, and hot.

SmokedChicken7-26-2010 004.jpg

post #2 of 18

Now, those are some very fine looking chickens.  I like your recipes, gotta stick them in my "reference book" for the next yardbirds.    You ought to try spatchcocking the chickens next time to see the difference.  Of course, with your WSM, you wouldn't be able to do 3.  The Slaughterhouse Brine has got to be one of the best.  Well done.

post #3 of 18

Now your yardbirds are looking fabulous and I bet you and yours enjoyed them thoroughly too.

post #4 of 18

Thanks for the great ideas I am going to be doing my first beer can chickens today!!

post #5 of 18

Beautiful birds.

post #6 of 18

Great looking birds. Those look mighty tasty for sure - Congrats on a great smoke

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the positive comments; I was very pleased for my first chickens. Btw, the onion stuffed into the neck hole on top was a very tasty. Most people were after a piece of it too. Next time I am considering apple or lemon for a different flavor.

post #8 of 18

Nice Job Walt !!!  



Thanks for showing,


post #9 of 18

Lookin to do some chickens my self thanks for some ideas,those are some good lookin hens hope ya enjoy em! 

post #10 of 18

Looks great nice job !!

post #11 of 18

funny, i thought i was going to do a brisket for my next smoke, but since i saw all these chicken pictures, i'm going with beer can chicken for sure!     


i agree, that onion in the neck is the bomb!  oh man, i can just imagine how delicious!!!


nice job, walt!

post #12 of 18

dang that looks good

post #13 of 18

Birds Look Great Walt, job well done.


Its always good to hear the skin turned out crisp. I still struggle with that part.

post #14 of 18

Nice looking chickens, I am doing some today!

post #15 of 18

Thanks for sharing, good job!

post #16 of 18

Looks-Great.gifWill have to try  it


post #17 of 18

Thanks so much for this.  The only problem I would have is that I have an electric smoker which smokes at a temperature of 225.  I am not sure how I might get it up to 310. 


Thanks for submitting.



post #18 of 18

Thanks Walt for step by step guide. Today was my first smoke (since cooking with my dad when I was a kid some 20 some years ago) on my brand new WSM 18.5. I did a burn-off yesterday and couldn't wait to get started. I followed your recipe almost completely and the results were amazing. My guests couldn't get enough!


I also did a 3 pack of birds - two were beer can according to your recipe, the other I'll post below.


Couple notes that might help other people on here:


- Had some trouble with the paste, wasn't sure how to apply it properly and ended up making a mess of the kitchen...I ended up nuking the butter a tiny bit to soften it up and then mixed in the spices which seemed to work.


- I used tall cans of beer...I emptied the beers into me, and then filled them about half way with apple juice. I was afraid they'd tip over but they had a nice center of gravity when half full. 


- Your rub is amazing, I have a bunch left over and will certainly be using it some more...Do you use that on anything else?


- I used apple wood, about 5-6 chunks


- Total cook time was 2.5 hours. My temp started at 350 and then came down to about 300 by the end, with a final internal temp of about 180. My temp was bit up and down between 300-350 but I played with the vents to try to keep it as stable as I could. I've heard that its tough to control temp the first few cooks so I was pretty happy I could keep it in that range.


For the other bird, I found another recipe online that I wanted to try...Instead of the rub, I sprinkled with kosher salt, pepper and paprika. I stuffed the chicken with a mix of cut up apple/onion/lemon that I tossed with oil and salt and pepper. I layed this one flat on the lower rack, and it also came out great.


Thanks again. Highly recommend this recipe and technique!

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