Smoked Whole Chicken is a delicious summer meal. Tender, juicy chicken with a smoky flavor is perfect for barbecues and summertime festivities. Only 4 simple ingredients needed for an inexpensive dinner that tastes better than roasted or rotisserie chicken.
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Smoked chickens are juicy, delicious, and so much better than the rotisserie chickens you can buy. Smoking is also an economical way to enjoy chicken as whole chickens cost less than chicken parts.
This whole smoked chicken recipe has a super simple sprinkling of salt and pepper, but you could use your favorite rub. Here’s a recipe for a dry rub that will take your smoked chicken wings up a notch:
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (hot or mild)
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
And, here’s an intriguing copykat recipe for a chili rub with coffee!
How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker
This smoked whole chicken recipe is made in a pellet smoker (also known as a pellet grill). Pellet smokers make smoking a chicken easy and convenient because they insulate and circulate heat more efficiently, and the temperature can be maintained throughout the entire smoking process.
One popular brand of pellet smokers is Traeger. Click on this link to find the best Traeger pellet grill for Traeger whole smoked chicken.
How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Chicken?
The chicken is cooked when the breast reaches 165F and the thigh 175F. A 6‑pound chicken will take about 2-1/2 hours (1 hour at 225F and 1-1/2 hours at 300F). The cooking time will vary with smaller or larger chickens. The important thing is to keep monitoring the internal temperatures with your smoker meat thermometer.
Note that the temperatures in smokers are not always perfectly consistent, so if the temperature drops a bit, you could be looking at a longer cook time. As always, don’t watch the clock when smoking a whole chicken.
Tips for Smoking a Chicken:
- Use butcher twine to tie the legs together and tuck the wing tips behind the shoulder joint.
- You can easily add more spices or your own homemade rub if desired. Just be careful not to dry out your chicken.
- Smoking can often result in leathery skin, so one way to combat this is with a layer of olive oil or butter spray on the outside of the chicken prior to the dry rub. The oil will keep the skin moist and help prevent the smoke from making it dry.
- Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and season on all sides with your rub. It’s best not to rub in your seasoning too much because it will pull back on the skin, and your seasoning will chunk.
- Using olive oil means the skin will be soft and not crispy. If you want crispy skin on your chicken, increase the heat in your smoker to 375-500F for the final few minutes.
- Baste with your favorite BBQ sauce during the last 30 minutes of cooking (this is optional).
- Note: Sauces containing sugars will burn at temperatures above 265F, so either keep the temperature low or apply your sauce only at the end of the cooking time.
Different Types of Wood Pellets
You can use any flavored pellet you like, but I normally use hickory with my chicken, and it gives it a delicious flavor.
The choice of wood pellets influences the flavor of what you are smoking. Chicken is mild-tasting meat, so for a Traeger whole chicken, you might want to use the lighter flavors you get from using alder, apple, maple, or pecan. Here’s a good link from Traeger that discusses different pellets and what they are best suited for.
What Sauces Go Best With Smoked Chicken?
Chicken is wonderfully versatile because it is able to take on so many different flavors. Because chicken by itself doesn’t have a strong flavor, you need a good sauce to go with it. These ten chicken sauces come in a wide array of flavors, so there is something here for everyone.
How to Store Leftover Chicken
Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 4 days. Cooked chicken also freezes quite well. Allow it to cool completely, place in a freezer-safe bag, and squeeze as much air out as possible before sealing. Your leftover chicken will keep in your freezer for up to 3 months.
- A food saver is expensive but allows you to safely freeze foods for much longer periods.
How to Reheat Leftover Smoked Chicken
Avoid the microwave for reheating. You will end up with rubbery and tasteless chicken. A microwave heats from the center, pushing out all the moisture from the meat along with its smoky flavor. Here’s the best way to reheat:
- Pre-heat your oven or smoker to 225-250 degrees.
- Wrap the chicken in foil with some chicken broth. If you don’t happen to have any on hand, vegetable broth works just fine. You don’t want to steam your chicken, so don’t use too much liquid – you want about a 1/4 amount of liquid to a pound of meat.
- Place the foiled meat in your oven or smoker for about 10-15 minutes per one pound of meat. If you have a higher weight of meat, add 5-7 minutes per pound.
- Allow your chicken to rest for a couple of minutes before serving, so it soaks up juices.
How to Use Leftover Chicken
Leftover chicken is so versatile. You can use it in any dish that requires chicken. Here are just a few ideas:
- Chopped chicken salad
- Jason’s Deli chicken pot pie
- Chicken casserole
- Olive Garden grilled chicken flatbread
- Who doesn’t love a really delicious grilled sandwich? Try this grilled smoked chicken sandwich with mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and yellow and red pepper pesto.
- Leftover smoked chicken is the perfect excuse to make a Mexican breakfast! Click here for smoked chicken chilaquiles.
Smoked Chicken Recipes
If you would like to try your hand at smoked chicken wings, click here for a recipe.
And, here’s a bunch of smoked chicken recipes from Traeger.
Whole Smoked Chicken
This smoked whole chicken is a juicy, delicious, and affordable way to make dinner for your entire family. Better than any rotisserie chicken you’ll buy at the grocer. Smoking your own whole chicken simply can’t be beat.
Please read the notes above for best results.
Here’s a list of what you need:
- Whole Chicken
- Coarse Ground Salt
- Coarse Ground Black Pepper
- Butter Nonstick Cooking Spray
How to Smoke a Whole Chicken
- Preheat a pellet smoker to 225 degrees.
- Spray the chicken with the cooking spray.
- Sprinkle salt on chicken.
- Sprinkle pepper on the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the middle of the smoker.
- Let it smoke at 225 degrees for 1 hour.
- Increase the temperature of your smoker to 300 degrees.
- Cook the chicken for another 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature in the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thigh at 175 degrees.
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and enjoy!
Recipe Tips and Notes
If you have a smaller or larger chicken, you’ll simply want to monitor the internal temperature as the size will definitely change the amount of time the chicken will cook.
You can easily add more spices or your own homemade rub if desired. Just be careful to not dry out your chicken.
You can use any flavor pellet you like. I recommend hickory with chicken because it gives it a delicious flavor.
Most pellet smokers come with a built-in meat thermometer. If your smoker does not have one, you can get a meat thermometer from Amazon.
What to Serve with Smoked Chicken
- Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Cooked Carrots
- Cucumber Tomato Onion Salad
- Grilled Corn on the Cob
- Homemade Coleslaw
- Roasted Red Potatoes
Best Smoked, Roasted, and Grilled Meat Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Margherita
- Grilled Chicken Tenderloins
- Grilled Stuffed Burgers
- Oven Roasted Chuck Roast
- Shish Kabob
- Smoked Steak
- Strip Loin Roast
Smoked Whole Chicken
- 6 pound Whole Chicken refrigerated or thawed from frozen
- 3 tablespoons Coarse Ground Salt
- 3 tablespoons Coarse Black Pepper
- Butter Nonstick Cooking Spray
- Preheat your pellet smoker to 225 degrees fahrenheit.
- Lay out the chicken on a clean, flat surface and spray the entire chicken, top to bottom, front to back, with the cooking spray.
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the entirety of the chicken. If you feel like it needs more, that’s perfectly fine, it won’t hurt it.
- Place the chicken in the middle of the smoker and let it smoke for 1 hour.
- Increase the temperature of your smoker to 300 degrees and cook for another 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature in the breast reaches 165 degrees and the thigh at 175 degrees.
- Remove from the smoker and enjoy!