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Tips for smoking a whole chicken?

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by stretch90, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. stretch90

    stretch90 Fire Starter

    Hey everyone,

    So I'm about to smoke a whole chicken for the first time and I was wondering if anybody has some advice for anything that I should watch out for. I've heard that the skin doesn't come out well at all after smoking the bird, but I've also heard of people putting it on a grill for a few minutes to crisp the skin before smoking, so I think I'll try that.

    I've also heard that the end temperature should be about 165-170 in the breast. I'm new at smoking altogether as well, so any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. dave54

    dave54 Smoking Fanatic

    I smoke mine at 300 degrees til it hits 175 .

    that takes care of getting a crispy skin and I know it's done
  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    My SmokinTex does not get up to 300 so I smoke at 250 until I hit the internal of 170

    I finish it on the grill to crisp the skin since I cant reach the higher temps

    Do a search for Shooter Ricks chicken rub - I can not tell you how many great chickens I have made with that rub.

    Good luck  
  4. smoke_chef

    smoke_chef Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    I've smoked several chickens. I have a turkey thawing now. The number one most important step on any poultry is the brine. The basic brine is 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of brown sugar to a gallon of water. After that, any seasoning you want to add only helps. Things that provide heat are good. i.e. Jalapeño, Crushed red pepper, cayenne. Savory things like poultry seasoning, bay leaves, onions, celery ect. Then your sweet things like cinnamon sticks, orange zest, orange juice ect. The combination is limited only by your imagination but some sort of brine is imperative IMHO. It will keep your bird from drying out and impart great flavor. After ribs, poultry is my favorite smoked meat. It's also one of the easiest things to smoke b/c you don't have to try to control your fire like you would on a long "low and slow" smoke. Poultry doesn't benefit from low and slow. My smoker runs between 300 and 350. The time of course will vary by the size of the bird, outside conditions, ect. But put that bird in the brine of your choosing for at least 12 hours but 24 is even better and you will love it!
    kymike likes this.
  5. stretch90

    stretch90 Fire Starter

    I'm not really sure how high I can get the temperature of my smoker, but I'll try to get it to 300 and see if that crisps the skin. I've been hearing that once the chicken is smoked you can't crisp the skin anymore, so it needs to be done before smoking....is that true?
  6. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    No... a lot of folks crisp the skin at the very end. There are a lot of smokers that don't get that hot, so a lot of folks toss the chicken onto a hot grill or into a hot oven to crisp the skin.
  7. northern greenhorn

    northern greenhorn Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You gotta get a really big rolling paper [​IMG]
  8. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I agree with most of the folks here and raise my temps on my poultry smokes to maybe 275° or 300° even. Then the skin does crisp right up for me and to our likings. I also agree with the 165° in the breast and 170° in the thigh and don't forget to let it rest. It might not be as important with poultry as it is to beef and pork but I still et it rest for 30 minutes or so. Q-view please don't forget that either that's for us out here.
  9. stretch90

    stretch90 Fire Starter

    If I were to do it in an oven, what temperature would be good enough to crisp it?

    Also, how long does a whole chicken typically take on the smoker if its set at 275-300?

  10. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Legendary Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    be patient is the best advise.
  11. vic81

    vic81 Fire Starter

    considering doing a small chicken myself this weekend, let us know how your's turns out.....
  12. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That's NOT the problem IMHO.  Getting the dang end lit w/o singeing your eyebrows is the problem!  And then, to make matters worse, if you brine it first.. whaddamess!  Then you have to resort to a beer can ...  [​IMG]

    I'm so sorry, I just couldn't resist..[​IMG]
  13. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member


    You don't list what state you're from, so I can't even tell if it's legal to smoke chickens where you live.[​IMG]

  14. stretch90

    stretch90 Fire Starter

    haha, I'm actually in Canada.
  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    LOL, up there you're probably allowed to smoke anything. [​IMG]

  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    We had some company Saturday and we were going to throw on some dogs and burgers, I figured I would try it on the RF. I asked my better half to pick up a couple of whole chickens as well. We decided on Beer can chicken.

    "Beer Can Chicken"
    Smoked with Cherry Wood

    Remember food safety especially with chicken, do not "cross contaminate" and keep a bleach based cleaner on hand to wipe everything down each step of the way.

    When working with chicken get everything ready and mixed before ever handling the chicken.

    Preheat RF to 350°.

    Mix some sweet basil with butter to rub up underneath the skin in the breast area.

    Prepare your beer can and pour out half the beer, take a can opener and remove the top of the beer can.

    Remove chicken from refrigerator, remove the gizzard goodie bag, rinse chicken and set aside.

    Add the giblets neck and liver from the bag and a teaspoon of rosemary to the beer can.

    If you want to make gravy, you can add salt and other spices such as garlic and onion powder and when you remove the can from the chicken, place in a pot and dress up a bit, get creative here.

    Some people do not like the taste of liver, so you may not want to add the liver to the beer can if making gravy.

    I have noticed that spices such as Rosemary and Thyme added in the can really impart flavor into the chicken.

    Place the Beer can on a cookie sheet. Rub chicken with olive oil and add your favorite rub or spices. Place chicken on the beer can.

    Heat the RF up to about 350°, remove the “Beer Can Chickens” from the cookie sheet and place directly on the grates.

    Cook about 80 minutes, I did 90 minutes last time and it came out pretty good. The chicken makes for an incredible chicken salad the next day.

    The safe temp to cook a whole chicken is 165°; I don’t mind overcooking these guys because they still come out OK.

    Just make sure to get some butter up under the skin at the breast area, because the breast can dry out before the chicken is done.

    Remove the chicken from the grill, place in a clean steamer pan and rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

    If you are making gravy, do so while the chicken is resting.

    Remove the skin and place on the still hot grates, if there's a hot spot on your smoker place the skin fat side down on the hot spot, carve the chicken and after the all the carving is done remove the skin from the smoker and cut into strips to serve alongside the meat.

    As you can see by the first photo, I did not rub these with olive oil or place any butter underneath the skin, however it still came out pretty good.

  17. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    SQWIB.... why is it everytime we see a picture of your wife she's holding a knife! [​IMG]  Is she trying to tell YOU something.... heh-heh.
  18. realtorterry

    realtorterry Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    what is this pour out half the beer stuff???  Never heard of such a thing??? How do you do that???
  19. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    I agree, who waste such a resource?  At least pour it in a mug!  

    Dr. Pops....LMAO  

    Looks like the others have you covered...please don't forget the Qview...that'd be most important...forget spices etc, but don't forget the Qview!  Happy smokin'!
  20. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Being a Philly Boy, I'm positive SQWIB means pour it into a glass, and don't spill any.