FAQ: Problem with Tough, Leathery Chicken and Turkey Skin

//FAQ: Problem with Tough, Leathery Chicken and Turkey Skin

FAQ: Problem with Tough, Leathery Chicken and Turkey Skin

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?
Thanks.

A: On poultry the skin does seem to take the brunt of the smoke and heat and usually turns out tough and not very appetizing when you cook it at low smoking temperatures. To create tasty smoked chicken with skin that has a good “bite-through”, it requires drying the skin before cooking it and then cooking it a higher heat.

I love using my Camp Chef Woodwind and/or the Traeger Lil' Tex Elite for chicken since pellet grills can easily cook low and slow and then be turned up to as high as 450 or 500°F in order to get a perfect finish on something that needs to be crisp.

For better smoke flavor, smoke the chicken for about an hour at low and slow temperatures and give it plenty of smoke. Then turn it up to 300 °F or higher to finish. Remember chicken is done and safe at 165°F but this may not be the perfect finish temperature for the pieces with more fat such as the thigh, wing and leg. These “dark meat” pieces are best taken to 175-180°F to make them more tender and juicy and this just gives more time to crisp up the skin as well.

Chicken breast, tenderloins and whole chickens should be removed from the heat at 165°F to make sure the chicken is safe to eat and to ensure that the white meat does not dry out. I recommend brining the meat prior to cooking to ensure a more juicy outcome.

See all of our chicken recipes and information HERE.

 

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2018-06-14T03:35:39+00:00 By |4 Comments

About the Author:

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

4 Comments

  1. Addicted Smoker October 2, 2013 at 9:57 am - Reply

    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.

    • Chamber January 19, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      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. 

  2. Nancy July 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm - Reply

    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!

    • Jerry November 30, 2014 at 3:15 pm - Reply

      I had the same question when i got my electric. I have the MasterBilt, and the included booklets weren’t completely clear on this. I eventually found a recommendation that the flue should be left all the way open while cooking to allow a proper draft thru the smoke box. After a few hours, i’ll sometimes add water to the pan & close it to steam-finish a little.

      Hope this helps!

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