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Published June 28, 2019. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Bring your favorite BBQ restaurant right to your backyard with this foolproof way to make a smoked chicken BBQ recipe.
One of my favorite things to smoke is chicken. It’s much less labor and time-intensive than a smoked pork shoulder or brisket and it’s still delicious. My wife and daughter aren’t too big on pulled pork or chopped smoked brisket; However, they absolutely love this recipe.
While every BBQ pitmaster and backyard smoker has their own method of smoking it, I must say that I really enjoy this recipe and believe if you are just beginning to use your smoker or have been doing it for years, this recipe is foolproof. You should for sure try serving it up with my Vinegar Coleslaw Recipe. If you are really in a pinch for time, simply split the breasts from the thighs before smoking.
What Is Smoked Chicken
It’s a delicious dish where you use a brine, wet rub, or dry rub that is applied to a whole chicken, a split chicken, thighs, breasts, or wings and is then smoked under a flavored wood. It is one of the easier meats to smoke and is popular at just about every BBQ restaurant in America, and now your backyard.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke
Like smoking anything, the time it takes to smoke it will mostly depend on the temperature with which you are smoking. Most would say to smoke this in between 225° and 250° with a general rule of thumb of 35-45 minutes per pound so figure 2 to 2 ½ hours of total smoking time.
What Temperature Do You Smoked Chicken At
I usually prefer it at 250° to ensure that outer skin is really crispy. What’s the best part of fried chicken? The skin of course and the same applies to this recipe.
Spritzing Chicken When Smoking
Since smoked chicken cooks relatively quickly many don’t believe that it needs a spritz. However, I am in the camp that adding moisture, acid, and flavor is a good thing. I use the exact same spritz spray as I do in my Smoked St. Lous Ribs Recipe.
I like to use the rule of a savory rub should equal a sweeter spritz and vice versa a sweeter rub should mean higher vinegar content for the spritzer.
Chicken Rub Ingredients
Since it smokes for a short period of time, I like to add some sugar into my smoked chicken rub. I don’t recommend however doing a sweeter rub for things that take long periods of time to smoke such as ribs, brisket or pork. Here is the rub that I used:
- 4 tbsp sea salt
- 2 tbsp pepper
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp garlic granules
- 2 tbsp onion granules
- 2 tbsp paprika
Please remember to use your favorite rub if you have one or swap out ingredients as you see fit. Other things you could add to this mix are oregano and/or chili powder.
How to Smoke Chicken
This recipe was made on a Traeger smoker.
1. Place a metal pan filled up with ½ gallon of water under the grill grates and preheat the smoker using your favorite wood to 250°.
2. Remove any giblets from the whole chicken and cut in half removing the back strap of the chicken.
3. Pat it dry and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Make the rub and set aside.
5. Coat the chicken on all sides with a small amount of olive oil. Use your hands to rub it in.
6. Generously coat the chicken on both sides with the rub. There will be about 2 to 3 tablespoons leftover.
7. Place the chicken skin side up onto the smoker over the metal pan and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature into the thigh meat of 150° to 155°.
8. Spritz it after 1 hour. then spritz every 20-25 minutes until it reaches 150° to 155°.
9. Sauce it using your favorite sauce and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
10. let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.
11. Serve with BBQ sauce on the side.
How To Store
Storing and Freezing: Store it in a plastic container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. The chicken also freezes well for up to 45 days in a plastic container and can be reheated at low temperatures in the oven with a small amount of liquid and covered in foil.
chef notes + tips
- As long as you have a smoker you never need to go out to another BBQ restaurant again. Homemade food from scratch just tastes better, and that includes this incredible recipe.
- You can absolutely use a standard charcoal grill to smoke food in, and if you like to grill and smoke then take a look at pellet grills like Traeger or even a stone style grill, the Big Green Egg.
- You can absolutely use your favorite rub for this smoked chicken recipe, or you can even add additional ingredients such as chili powder or oregano, or anything else you love and want to put in it. Get creative!
- I like to use the rule of a savory rub should equal a sweeter spritz and vice versa a sweeter rub should mean higher vinegar content for the spritzer.
- Seasoning Note: Season, do not cake the rub on it. It should not be a thickly coated rub.
- If you are really in a pinch for time, simply split the chicken breasts from the thighs before smoking.
More Amazing BBQ Recipes
- Smoked Pork Shoulder
- Smoked Country Style Ribs with Mustard BBQ Sauce
- Kalbi Korean Short Ribs
- Smoked St. Louis Style Ribs
- Fall Off the Bone Ribs
Smoked Chicken BBQ Recipe
For the Rub:
- 4 tablespoons sea salt
- 2 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoon garlic granules
- 2 tablespoon onion granules
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
For the Spritzer and Sauce:
- 1 cup apple juice
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
- 1 stick melted unsalted butter
For the Chicken:
- 2 whole chickens, cut in half and back strap removed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the smoker to 250°.
- Rub: Combine all of the ingredients and set aside.
- Spritzer: Add the apple juice, cider, and water to a spray bottle and shake. Set aside.
- Sauce: In a small saucepot add in the BBQ sauce, butter and 1 cup of the spitzer mix. Keep warm.
- Rub the olive oil all over both sides of the chicken creating a thin layer.
- Next, generously season the chicken on both sides with the rub. There will be 2-3 tablespoons leftover.
- Add the chicken to the smoker and cook for 1 hour. Spray the chicken with 4-5 sprays each of the spritzer and do so after that every 20-25 minutes or until it reaches an internal leg temperature of 150° to 155°.
- Sauce the chicken using a brush and smoke until it reaches an internal leg temperature of 165°.
- Remove from the smoker and let rest for 20-30 minutes before serving.
- Serve alongside BBQ sauce.