Smoking multiple chickens

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Original poster
Jun 9, 2006
Hi, I enjoy the wealth of information here.
I have yet to find my question and apologize if it is so simplistic. I am a novice and use and electric water smoker. I would like to cook six 3 pound whole chickens. I am using a brine. Will I need to adjust my cooking time to accomadate more chickens? What are you recommendations. All input is appreciated!!
Having 1 chicken in the smoker may take about 3 to 3.5 hours at 225*. Two chickens will increase the time a bit, not doubled, but maybe another 30 minutes or so because of the added cold mass.

Cooking 6 birds at once will add a lot of initial cold mass which will drastically drop the temperature in the main cooking chamber of a small rig for a considerable amount of time, say the first couple hours. Because the temperature dips in the cooking chamber the meat will cook slower.

To compensate for the dip, I would recommend preheating the smoker 50-100* hotter than you would for one chicken and adding just a little bit more fuel to the fire the first hour or so. Be careful that your fire isn't so hot that it gets out of control. You may need to rotate the birds that are close to the firebox to the far end to promote even cooking (depending, again, on your rig).

Chicken cooked low-n-slow will have a rubbery textured skin. To crisp the skin you can ramp the temperatures to 350* the final 30-60 minutes of the cook.

Hope this helps.
benas69, Welcome to SMF. Since chickens are sent to slaughter at a tender young age, they really don't benefit from the low and slow (225-250*) You can kick the heat up on them (300/3508) to help compensate for the extra cold mass. Not knowing the features of your electric smoker, I'm going to venture a guess here and assume that your unit has a fixed thermostat that keeps your unit between 225-250*, if this is the case then like Bob-BQN said, you'll need to allow for additional cooking times. Some high end electric smokers have a variable thermostat that allows the user to increase or decrease the smoker temps.

When you can-visit Roll Call and introduce yourself to the other members.

just finished smoking 4 chickens, 4 turkey tenderloins, a few links of sausages and a dozen ABT's.

I cooked on 225 degrees.

I think it does extend your cooking time when you're cooking more stuff. It took my chickens about 6 hours to get to 180 internal on the thick part of the thigh where it joins the body of the chicken. It usually gets to 180 in about 4 hours if I'm just doing a couple of chickens.

I always pull my chickens by the temp in the thigh not the breast. The breast will hit 180 a lot quicker than the thigh will.
Thank you all for the great advice and quick responses.
I ended up doing 3 chickens on the smoker and we did 3 beer can chix on the grill. They all came out great.
Last summer using my Brinkman Smoke'n'Grill, I did 3 beer butt chickens on top grill at between 325º & 350º for about an hour and a half using pecan. Had crispy skin and was so moist, I could hardly believe it! The color the pecan imparted was amazing. I took pics, but think I can locate them ... not!
If I ever do ... I will post them.

If you bump the temp up to 350 degrees and cook the whole chicken for an hour or so how will the short cook time effect the smoke flavor vs. cooking the chicken for 4 hours?
Did Anyone Ever Consider Washing Their Chickens In Hot Water And Then Drying Them Off Before Smoking/cooking Just To Get The Temp Up.
I don't think that's a good idea from a food safety issue. I think it would promote bacteria growth. I think while prepping the chicken, rub, stuffing with lemons and herbs and such gives it a chance to warm up a bit which is enough. Just my 2cents worth.
By the time I get them all washed, occasional pin feathers pulled and yellow ickys scraped. back bone cut out, ribs removed, in luke warm water and dried and rubbed and injected they're not really cold anyways. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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