HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Chicken on the smoker?

The boyfriend wants to fire up the smoker this weekend, and we want to try something new other than the usual brisket or pork butt. I was considering a whole chicken, but the thing is, I don't like a heavy smoked flavor. I haven't had problems with his brisket, but I wonder if with chicken, the smoke flavor would be more powerful. Anyone have any insight, or have another recommendations for the smoker? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Whatcha cookin on? Charcoal/Wood ~ Gasser ~ Electric ???? ~~~ Whatever.. just keep flavoring wood (smoke) to a minimum. ~ I like cherry on poultry.. mostly for color.~ Try spatchcocking the bird.

    Fun & Enjoy!

    1. I *love* smoked chicken, game hens and other poultry. You can reduce the smoke flavor by using smoke for a shorter time or by using lighter wood such as alder. You might want to brine first. For some really good advice on smoking check out the Bradley Smoker Forums; they are not product-specific http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/

      1. We have a gas smoker, and do chicken all the time. It doesn't need to smoke for all that long (maybe 1 1/4 hour), even for a whole chicken, and doesn't seem that smoky to me. My favorite way to do it is Beer Can (or Chicken on a Throne). Rub the entire chicken with your favorite dry rub (inside and outside). Try to get some under the skin. Let set at room temperature (or do early in the day, keeping in the fridge) while you get the smoker set up. Drink about 1/4 of a can of beer, make more openings in the top of the can, and perch the chicken over the can (legs down to make a kind of tripod). Sort of a poor man's vertical spit. Smoke until done. Serve with your favorite sauce if you like.

        1 Reply
        1. re: dkenworthy

          I have at one time or another ruined every other cut of meat on the smoker, but whole chicken has never failed me. I agree with the beer can method because it puts the dark meat closer to the heat and the drier breast further away.

        2. My first couple of smoked chickens were very smokey but I liked that. I think chickens tend to pick up smoke easier because their muscle fibers seem "looser" to me (There's separation between the muscle groups since it's a whole animal instead of one piece of one single muscle group).

          If you don't want a heavy smoke flavor, go lighter on the smoke, avoid strong woods like mesquite, and cook at a higher temperature. No need for low and slow. Basically, roast the bird with a kiss of smoke. If using lump charcoal, that may give enough smoke flavor by itself.

          1 Reply
          1. re: seamunky

            I was going to comment on this thread, but seamunky said exactly what I was going to say.

          2. Smoking chicken is our chicken cooking method of choice for whole birds and we have done our Thanksgiving turkey that way for almost 20 years. I agree with the previous poster, no need for low and slow and don't use too much smoking wood. We often use lighter fruit woods for poultry.

            My homemade stock is from the carcasses of these birds and it's the best I've had.

            1. This is so helpful, everyone, thanks. It's an electric smoker, so we'll go easy on the chips. I always spatchcock and brine when I grill one, but I would have thought the brine might react poorly with smoking, so I'm glad to know I can do that. Many thanks! I'm a bit more excited about his newest endeavor now. (Someday I'll convince him that we need to try scallops).

              3 Replies
              1. re: katecm

                and cook at higher temp - perhaps 250 or even 275 not 225!

                1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                  At 225-250F , you get a flacid skin that needs to be pulled and then grilled or broiled til crispy. BTDT x 100.
                  It comes with teh "low and slow" territory of 225F to 275 territory. Not really news.

                  For crispy skin, you need to move into the 325F mode. But carefully. But even with smoking, it takes a good eye and hand to get things to 165F internal without being dry.

                  I inject, dry rub and then shove half an orange and onion in the cavity and then truss.

                  Apple or hickory for the wood.

                  It's not as simple as it seems.

                2. re: katecm

                  Another tip is to make sure when adding chips to let the white smoke pass before adding your meat and or have very good air flow. White smoke bad, blue smoke good. On my smoker I pull the chip loader out a little which increases air flow and also use a small computer fan near the vent to also keep things moving well when adding fresh chips. As Uncle B said cherry gives good color

                  On my Masterbuilt electric smoke, I kick it up the the max temp. Skin is still a touch flabby. If you want crisp skin toss on a hot grill briefly.

                  My current favorite method is to bone out a chicken, coat in your fav rub and smoke. Takes maybe an hour and the chicken is super moist. It's easy to cut and serve the the bones to to stock

                3. Simple: use less smoking wood. Instead of using 3 - 5 chunks, use only 1 chunk. Smoke it with no water in the pan (if there is a water pan) at 350 degrees F. Pull when the breast meat reaches 150 degrees F.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: 1POINT21GW

                    Yep, as you and jjrfoodie note, a higher temperature is the best way to "barbecue" a smokey chicken.

                  2. I truss my chickens when grill smoking and I prefer apple wood as it imparts a milder taste. I use my gas grill like so -

                    1. LOL.

                      Let's try this again.

                      Chow will not allow me to edit pics or remove post.
                      I moderate and admin. 3 forums so I know it's not me.

                      Not allowing me to attach correct pics. Hmmmm....

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: jjjrfoodie

                        Welcome to the antiquated 1990s forum. I really wish they'd move into the 21st century with this thing.

                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          i see why they don't let you take down posts or change them after the fact. Then you have a bunch of replys that make no sense.

                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            With the current, antiquated, awkward format this forum uses - true. However, none of the current 21st century forums I use use this format reply structure so I'm just not used to all the restrictions and lack of features.

                        2. re: jjjrfoodie

                          just report your post. They'll remove it for you. It's really not a big deal.

                        3. I took a smoking class and believe it or not, the teacher didn't use anything but charcoal and it was delicious. We even had 2 of the bbq judges in the class and they couldn't believe it either.

                          I made some really good chicken the other day on my grill. 2 chunks of soaked hickory on top of charcoal. To make it last longer, put in unlit coals first, with lit coals on top. The bottom layer will eventually light and continue the cooking.
                          Put that on only 1 side. On the other side, put a pan with some water in it. The chicken will go on top of this. Breasts then wings to the fartherest away spot, then legs and thighs closer, but still over the pan if possible. It will take 60-75 minutes. I checked it after an hour and mine was done. If you do a whole chicken, put the legs toward the coals. My temp. was pretty high (400)and I couldn't seem to get it lower. Had it been more in the 325-350 range it would have taken longer.
                          Oh. I did brine my chicken first, blotted it with paper towels and brushed it with canola oil. I then peppered it. No salt since there was salt and sugar in the brine. 1 gal water/1c. salt/1c sugar. It came out a bronze color. Oh. Skin side up and don't ever turn it. No need to. The smoke was just right, not overpowering but enough to know it was smoked.
                          Very good.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: morgans4

                            jjj is right on, use high heat (300+) or you will have inedible rubber skin. In competitions, chicken must have "bite through skin". Some finish the skin on a grill but that is a little dicey with a whole bird, comp chicken is usually thighs. For home BBQ I prefer to smoke until 100f then finish to 165f on the grill, this also helps to keep the level of smoke down.

                            1. re: tommg

                              Some methods used in competitions to achieve "bite through skin" are piercing the skin with a Jaccard or similar device, removing the skin (not practical with some applications such as a whole chicken) and scraping the fat off the back then replacing the skin, or brining.