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+ servings
smoked chicken halves with bbq sauce on parchment paper

Smoked Chicken BBQ Recipe

Bring your favorite BBQ restaurant right to your backyard with this foolproof way to make a smoked chicken BBQ recipe.
Course Main
Cuisine American, southern
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 4 hours
Servings 8
Calories 565kcal


  • Smoker


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.



Chef Notes: 
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.


Calories: 565kcal | Carbohydrates: 28g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 164mg | Sodium: 3999mg | Potassium: 638mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 2580IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 4.7mg