Whole chicken on an MES

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jjowsey69

Newbie
Original poster
Oct 23, 2023
7
9
So I spatchcocked a whole chicken this weekend.
Set for 275 in my MES. It hovered between 260 and 265 most of the time but it was also 32° out. Everything I've read said it should take 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours but I ended up taking it out of the smoker at 5 hours and finishing it up in the oven to get it to temp.

Tasted great, but this is the second time I've had to finish a chicken in the oven. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
 
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I’d start by verifying your smoker temp at grate level with a secondary probe thermometer and see if you are actually cooking at 275. I’d bet you arent
Great reply! I have a two probe ThermoPro, one of which I use for inside ambient temperature. I generally go by the temperature on the thermopro as opposed to the MES itself. However, I'm unsure on where I should be placing that probe. I generally put it on the top rack in the little metal clippy thing they give you as I rarely use it for meat. I'm also finding generally that there is a 20 to 30 degree difference between the thermopro and the internal MES temp. Is it common for there to be that huge of a difference?
 
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Great reply! I have a two probe ThermoPro, one of which I use for inside ambient temperature. I generally go by the temperature on the thermopro as opposed to the MES itself. However, I'm unsure on where I should be placing that probe. I generally put it on the top rack in the little metal clippy thing they give you as I rarely use it for meat. I'm also finding generally that there is a 20 to 30 degree difference between the thermopro and the internal MES temp. Is it common for there to be that huge of a difference?
Yes it’s common for the door or dome therm to measure higher than the smoker actually is. As fare as probe placement just use that clip you mentioned and place probe on same rack you want to cook on a few inches from the meat. Make sure to verify your probe is properly calibrated first though by placing it in a glass of ice water or a pot of boiling water to make sure it is accurate
 
It hovered between 260 and 265 most of the time
Yes , but you should account for the temp drop up and down . If 260 is the high , and 230 is the low , you're cooking somewhere in the middle of that as an average .
Opening the door greatly effects that average temp in an MES .
I'm assuming that's a digital MES and the read out on the controller is what you're referring to .
 
The MES chamber temp should be measured with a probe close to where the chicken was. After all, this is what temp the chicken will be exposed to. Not certain how high your MES can be set, but if the average was 245º (260-230) and you wanted 275º it will need to be bumped higher. If not possible then the time has to increase. In that case you might want to consider pulling at some point and finish in a very hot oven to crips things up.

An alternate: quite some time ago I gave up doing chicken in my smoker, instead use the grill and a smoker tube full of pellets. Big improvement, gets done quicker, great smoke flavor and the skin is crispy.
 
The MES chamber temp should be measured with a probe close to where the chicken was. After all, this is what temp the chicken will be exposed to. Not certain how high your MES can be set, but if the average was 245º (260-230) and you wanted 275º it will need to be bumped higher. If not possible then the time has to increase. In that case you might want to consider pulling at some point and finish in a very hot oven to crips things up.

An alternate: quite some time ago I gave up doing chicken in my smoker, instead use the grill and a smoker tube full of pellets. Big improvement, gets done quicker, great smoke flavor and the skin is crispy.
I've struggled with chicken on the smoker. Could you explain a bit more about your method with the grill, please? Do you spatchcock? I just got a new Weber Kettle and would love to use it to make a juicy bird with crispy skin.
 
I've struggled with chicken on the smoker. Could you explain a bit more about your method with the grill, please? Do you spatchcock? I just got a new Weber Kettle and would love to use it to make a juicy bird with crispy skin.
Spatchcock is the easiest. You can lightly baste it with butter or italian dressing. Been a while since I used charcoal but you really don't want a very hot grill. I run my gas grill about 350º. Most of the time I stand the whole chicken up (beer-can style but no beer can) see recipe. With this one I highly recommend brining the bird first. It does make a difference. If doing on your kettle, you'll need to rotate the bird a few times given it's an indirect cook to ensure it's exposed to the heat evenly.

 
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So I spatchcocked a whole chicken this weekend.
Set for 275 in my MES. It hovered between 260 and 265 most of the time but it was also 32° out. Everything I've read said it should take 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours but I ended up taking it out of the smoker at 5 hours and finishing it up in the oven to get it to temp.

Tasted great, but this is the second time I've had to finish a chicken in the oven. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
Ok i give what is spatchcock and an mes?
 
Ok i give what is spatchcock and an mes?
Spatchcock: cutting out the backbone and flattening the chicken. Allows for an even cook with less time. Once you cut the backbone out with poultry shears, flip it over, give it CPR to break the breastbone. Flattens right out.

MES: Masterbuilt Electric Smoker. Looks like a fridge. Doesn't get above 275F. Which is why I wouldn't use it for poultry.
 
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Spatchcock: cutting out the backbone and flattening the chicken. Allows for an even cook with less time. Once you cut the backbone out with poultry shears, flip it over, give it CPR to break the breastbone. Flattens right out.

MES: Masterbuilt Electric Smoker. Looks like a fridge. Doesn't get above 275F.
Ah ok a deboned chicken never heard it called that? Thank you👍 and masterbuilt yes i have one in the attic since i discovered my pit boss lol
 
Ah ok a deboned chicken never heard it called that? Thank you👍 and masterbuilt yes i have one in the attic since i discovered my pit boss lol
No it's not deboned.

It's literally a whole chicken. The backbone is removed. Just the backbone. Then it's flattened.

There's still a bunch of other bones in it. Ribcage, drums, and wings don't have the bones removed.
 
It's pretty common for me to go 5-6 hrs on a whole chicken on my mes, you can cook 1 in the oven quicker at that temp but constant airflow will add time and the water pan will also prolong the cook by moderating the temps some. I never get in a rush smoking anything and plan to be done 3-4 hours before I plan to eat. also if you open the door on the mes it adds time, if your looking your not cooking is pretty spot on, the pellet smoker is better for folks wanting to peak and spritz, the temp rebounds quickly with pellet power lol.
 
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I've had no problems doing whole chickens in my MES.

I have a stand that I put the chicken on so it's stands vertically inside my smoker in a drip pan. Legs/thighs closest to the heat,breast furthest away. I smoke till the breast is 155 and then into a hot oven or grill for a short stay to crisp up the skin and the breast hits 160,the carry over during rest will bring it to 165,the legs/thighs will be fully cooked having been closer to the heat source.Very little cleanup involved.

I do control my MES with a PID so when I set my temp to 265-270 I know it will hold that temp. Makes for very consistent cook times and even cooking.
 
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So I spatchcocked a whole chicken this weekend.
Set for 275 in my MES. It hovered between 260 and 265 most of the time but it was also 32° out. Everything I've read said it should take 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours but I ended up taking it out of the smoker at 5 hours and finishing it up in the oven to get it to temp.

Tasted great, but this is the second time I've had to finish a chicken in the oven. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks
Try running your mes empty, verify your thermo probes as mentioned then put them at different levels of your empty smoker that should give you a pretty good idea of temps.
 
An alternate: quite some time ago I gave up doing chicken in my smoker, instead use the grill and a smoker tube full of pellets. Big improvement, gets done quicker, great smoke flavor and the skin is crispy.
Same here but eventually, I caved. Running chicken was a BIG factor in my decision to get a pellet grill (Smokefire) and it RAWKS bird. I was even gung ho and modded the MES to run hotter with an Auber but think the Smokefire bests it as well as my gasser and tube. I am making some of the best chicken I've ever eaten.

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