First time smoking a whole questions!

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Sep 15, 2012
Hello all.

I've been smoking since my dad got me into this in '07 and have enjoyed it ever since.  I've pretty much got butts and briskets down pat on the UDS.  I've enjoyed building smokers just as much as smoking on them and sharing the food off them!  Being active duty, I threw together a UDS and the whole command loved it when I smoked.  That ol 55 gallon stayed busy for 7 months!

Now that I'm back, I'm in the process of putting my big RF on a trailer.  Its almost done.

There is a local amateur "cook off" that a business is putting together monthly.  They are starting off with chicken.  I have never smoked chicken before.  I went to Academy Sports and picked up an injector.  So far, what I've read online is poultry needs to be injected.  Basically........I need advice.  I picked up a whole chicken today and I plan on putting together a beer/butter style injection this evening using a local Pal Ale and butter plus: ???  What's you guys recommendations for this process because I'm anxious with this one.  Any helpful tips and suggestions would be awesome.  Don't be shy either I have thick skin!  Thank you in advance
In addition, this is a trial run because the competition isn't until the end of Jan so anything I can learn between now and then will be much appreciated.
I have never done a whole chicken but when I do chicken quarters and chicken breasts I love to marinate them not inject them. There are a lot of great marinades you can use. I usually use a Garlic Lime type because you can't go wrong with garlic. But I am sure the guys on here have some other great ideas as well.
My suggestion, your first chicken should be nekkid. Rub with oil, sprinkle salt and pepper inside and out, maybe a sliced apple in the cavity. Use a light wood and use it sparingly the first cook so you can see the difference.  Worry more about cooking it right first and knowing what the chicken has to offer with no modifiers. You can't build something unless you know your materials first.

Maybe then adjust on the cooking and salt and pepper and try another modifier, then adjust again and try another..... modifiers are to enhance the chicken, the taste should be sensed but not over powering.

Start with little or no modifiers then build as you learn, you don't start driving a Ferrari you couldn't handle it.

ALL smoked chickens are delicious if cooked right, you can marinade, brine, inject, rub, mope, and spritz but if you can't cook it perfectly none of it matters.

Just my humble opinion.

Here is a turkey injected

A chicken Brined
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Yep! "FOAMHEART" has it covered . . .
For most birds, I prefer just a simple salt & brown sugar brine for at least 6 hrs.  Although I've done them for as little as 2 hours and still noticed a difference.  But like FoamHeart said...if you don't do them "plain" first, you won't know the difference each step makes on the finished product.
DUFFMAN, garlic is for sure a favorite in my household!

Foamheart, I deffinately appreciate your advice.  Cooking food to temp safely is my #1 priority.  You're absolutely right about starting with the basics and building from there.  I believe that will produce better results in the long run.  I've been learning about "brining" and that seems to be a whole other topic with poultry.  I've read about people using the oven to crisp the skin after a good smoke.  My chicken skin came out rubbery.  The meat on the other hand was super moist and delicious!  Everybody loved it!  My 5 yr old gobbled it down like there wasn't enough lol!

I will start from here and continue to build on the basics....not only with different injections, rubs & types of woods, but take these concepts and use them with beef and pork as well.  Thank you for the links, they were very informative!

RdKnB, he hit the nail on the head!

oldschoolbbq, yessir!

Ferd66, yes I agree 100%.  I'm gonna try out the brine process that you mentioned on the next one and see how that turns out.
I think brine makes all the difference with poultry.  I like to keep it simple.  1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar for every 1/2 gallon of water it takes to cover the chicken.  Sometimes I may add a tablespoon of cajun seasoning...but I can't say I've noticed a difference in the taste with or without it.
I think brine makes all the difference with poultry.  I like to keep it simple.  1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup brown sugar for every 1/2 gallon of water it takes to cover the chicken.  Sometimes I may add a tablespoon of cajun seasoning...but I can't say I've noticed a difference in the taste with or without it.
Be careful with brine, if brined too long a chicken's texture or the density of the meat will change. Normally I try to stay under 24 hours with chicken. I have had better results Steeping my modifiers in a pint of water then adding to the cure. Like Ferd I do small quantities but I use a bit less salt than sugar, it ensures I don't ober power the salt taste, I use 1/2 C light brown with 1/3C of canning salt. and Yes the sugar and salt types matter.

Injections are a great way to add flavor, problem is you need a rudimentary knowledge of the muscle structure. No big deal you've eaten chicken, right. I use a cattle injection needle from the feed & seed, it delivers smaller amounts easier so you can better get those muscle zones. Take your time to prevent pooling, I build a grind in my mind over the chicken and use the muscle structure in a rotating high/low pattern. Yes Big needles with multi-orifices get the flavors in, but its normally all pools up in one spot. Its back to enhancement instead of over-powering, IMHO.

The rubbery skin, that's from low and slow. To my knowledge, from what I have learned here, its possible to cook chicken at higher temps without affecting the moisture in the chicken. You can cook at 300+ get crisp skin and still maintain the juices in the neat.

Don't forget the cavity, Its really the easiest way to get flavor into the meat. Best Turkey I ever ate I had cut apricots in half and stuffed in the cavity. Who'd have thought apricots. Unless I am cooking for another, and know those tastes, I always cook for me. I know what I like and what flavors compliment it, saves on experimenting. Basically you have spices, herbs, fruits and veggies. Me, I figure too many flavors confuse the palate. I don't care for a bird that is marinated, injected, brined etc etc...... normally you lose the chicken flavor. KISS, Keep It Simple.

Every time you adjust from the last cook and build. In three weeks you'll wonder why you ever wanted ribs and brisket.
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I guess I should have been more clear on the amount of time I brine.  Normally, its 6-8 hours for me.  It's the last thing I do the night before I plan on smoking.  Then I get up and give it a good rinse and pat dry, and oil and season it first thing in the morning.  Then back in the fridge until it time to get my smoke on. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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