Smoking chicken is another one of my favorite things to do.. done correctly it can be quite tasty and very healthy as well.
I have been doing quite a few test runs on my new wood fired smoker to get everything right before I begin giving instructions on how to smoke chicken
I have to say I have been getting some very good results.. tasty results I might add.
I am going to release the details that have recently become the standard for smoking chicken at my house.
Go to the local supermarket or meat market and pick out a few plump chickens in the 3 to 3.5 pound range for the best flavor. I like to buy ones that are not full of solution.. look for words like “all natural” or “minimally processed” on the outside of the package.
Brine the chickens in a solution of:
- 1 gallon water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- anything else you might like to add such as wine, fruit juice, spices, worcestershire, etc..
You can double the recipe if you need to. please read the page on brining for more information.
You will only need to brine the chickens for around 4 hours or so.
Build a fire that will maintain around 225 degrees using oak as a base wood and while the fire is getting started wash the brine off of the chickens and coat the chickens with my rub for the best results or you can use some lemon pepper and cajun seasoning.
Place the chickens on the smoker breast side down and immediately throw on some hickory and let the smoke roll relentlessly out of the smoke stack. you can also mix in some apple or other fruit wood if you have a favorite.
Let the smoking chickens go for an hour and a half and then turn the chickens to breast side up so that it does not dry out the tender white meat.
You can mop the chickens with some butter or spiced olive oil if you like.. I do not mop the chickens at all as I have found that it is really not needed. The outside of the chickens tend to stay nice and moist throughout the entire smoke.
I like to use a Taylor meat thermometer to check the temperature of the chicken since the entire success of smoking chicken lies in not overcooking the chicken.
Or.. if you want to get fancy you can get my favorite remote meat thermometer.. the Maverick ET-732. The sending unit stays with the smoker and monitors the smoker temperature AND the meat temperature. The reciever stays in your pocket or on the table next to you and you always know what’s happening. The range is about 300 feet and I’m loving it.
Better yet.. it’s only about $60 bucks on Amazon.com and it is well worth it!
Pull the chicken when the temp reaches 165 in the thickest part of the breast.. sometimes I will pull it a few degrees shy of 165 since I know the temp will continue to rise for a few minutes after it comes out of the smoker.
I have to tell you… prepare for the attack! I did a batch of these this past weekend and you should have seen the family huddles over the counter like a crew of barbarians pickin’ that chicken to the bone!
Feel free to come up with your own variations but hopefully the details listed above will help you get started smoking the world’s favorite white meat.
Want the Skin to be Crispy?
Smoked chicken skin tends to be a little chewy at times.. if you prefer crispy chicken skin then you will need to make just a couple of adjustments to the process.
Crispy chicken skin requires about 20-25 minutes of high heat to render the fat in the skin and make it crisp up so you can either crank up the heat in the smoker to about 300-325 degrees F for about the last 25 minutes or so or.. you can remove the chicken once it reaches about 140 degrees or so and finish it off over high heat (300-325) on the grill.
Watch the chicken carefully and turn as necessary to make sure the skin does not burn but browns evenly on all sides.
Remember.. if you have placed a sugary rub or sauce on the bird, it will burn really fast over that high heat so be careful.