FAQ – Problem with Tough, Inedible Chicken and Turkey Skin

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Q: We got our smoker for Thanksgiving (Cabella propane) and love it, but both times we've cooked chicken/turkey, the skin is inedible.  Like leather.  The meat is great – we've brined it both times.

How do you keep the skin from being so tough?

A: On poultry the skin does seem to take the brunt of the smoke and heat and usually turns out inedible.. the only thing I can think of if you want to eat the skin is to cover the poultry with cheese cloth during the smoking process and then about the last 30-45 minutes of the cook you may need to remove the cheese cloth and cook the chicken or turkey on high heat to brown and crisp the skin up a little.

Not sure that this will work as well as you want it to.. normally when you smoke poultry the skin is left on to protect the meat but takes on a lot of smoke and at the low heat turns out a little tough and leathery.

Give it a shot and I think it will be a lot closer to what you want and should make it edible if not tasty. Try spreading some butter or olive oil on the outside of the cheesecloth during the smoking process for good measure.

Let me know how it goes.


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About Jeff Phillips

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!


  1. Just bought an electric smoker for my husband's birthday this weekend and we are "seasoning" it as I write this email.  We are going to attempt a chicken tomorrow.  Basic question:  do we leave the flu open or closed during the smoking process?  We haven't found an answer to this question anywhere.  Thanks for your help!

  2. Addicted Smoker says:

    Try using a simple mop sauce. Brush mop sauce every ten or fifteen minutes onto the chicken. Works like a charm, but is kind of a hassle.

    • Opening your smoker every 10-15 minuites is a big mistake. DO NOT follow this advice unless you want to continously lose all of your smoke and heat. 

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