smoking chicken

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by smokedad, Aug 23, 2016.

  1. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I have never smoked chicken before but my family loves chicken so I want to give it a try.  I don't normally brine chicken before grilling it but I think I will after reading so many posts about how moist it makes the meat.  I have a few questions about smoking chicken:

    is there a basic brine recipe that is best to use, or one to start with and add ingredients to personal taste?

    How long do you keep the meat in the brine?

    Is it better to smoke a whole chicken or a lot of smaller pieces (like thighs or wings)?

    what do you do to get the skin nice and crispy?

    what type of wood is good for smoking poultry?

    I always find good advice on this site, so I look forward to hearing what you have to teach me.
  2. Hello.  You might know I would catch this one.  I am a heretic when it comes to chicken.  I don't do low and slow.  Simple reason is I have never had a TOUGH piece of chicken.  Dry YES; but not tuff.  I don't brine birds but I also don't use rubs.  Just my "thing". I DO see why folks brine.  It adds flavours to the meat.   IMHO hot and fast is the way to go with birds or bird parts.  Spatchcock that chicken, good HOT coals, hit the coals with wood chips, throw on the chicken, clap the lid on and let 'er roll.  BIG white smoke will happen.  Now that CAN be a bad thing but in this case it's no problem.  In 1 hour or less the thick white smoke is not a problem  The skin should also be pretty crispy.  This method also work for steaks.  The thick white smoke WILL NOT  work for things like brisket or pulled pork.  Anything which takes more than 1 hour to cook you need the thin blue smoke!  Good luck with your chicken.  Just my way and my opinion.  Keep |Smokin!

  3. Like KC5TPY I do not brine. However I am the opposite in a lot of ways. I do chicken pieces, usually thighs or legs. I do use rub and I cook low and slow as well. Also like a lot of people do with ribs I will foil with some liquid as well partway through. I cook over wood and charcoal on indirect heat so when I get close to the end I will put the chicken over the high heat for a bit to crisp up the skin.

    As far as wood types go that is really a personal taste. I have used hickory, (which a lot of people think is too strong for chicken) pecan, apple, cherry, peach and just the other day tried orange wood for the first time. I have also experimented with a variety of combos as well.

    It is a lot of fun so try some things out and remember to let us know how things come go.
  4. hardcookin

    hardcookin Master of the Pit

    Myself I like smoking split chicken breasts & Thighs. A lot of times I buy when they are on sale.
    I either inject or brine. If I brine the chicken I usually brine it anywhere from 2 to 8 hours, depending on how much time I have.
    I use a simple brine.
    2 quarts apple juice
    2 quarts water
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    1/2 cup real maple syrup

    With brining you will need to take the chicken out of the brine rinse and dry and coat with your favorite rub.

    I like cooking chicken @ 300-325 I will put it on skin down for about 1/2 hour to start, And then turn the chicken over. I cook breasts to 165 and thighs to 175 -180.
    About 150 I coat with my favorite BBQ sauce.
    Injecting is also another way to get juicy flavor and is a lot quicker than brining.
    As for wood I smoke a lot with cherry.
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  5. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    There as many ways to smoke chicken as there are stars in the sky. Only hard and fast rule is to take it to at least 165° so it's safe.
    I tend to like milder woods best for chicken, cherry probably being my favorite. Lately I've been just using pecan on everything though, which is also delicious.
    I like to do thighs. They seem to always be on sale and since they're all the same size and shape they cook evenly. I usually mix up a brine of a quart of water, a quarter cup of salt, and a tablespoon each of onion and garlic powder. Since I seem to never plan ahead, I usually inject this into the pieces then submerge them in the remaining brine for an hour or two. This is more than enough time. Without injecting, 4 hours is sufficient time for brining chicken.
    For smoking I usually run right around 300° in my smoker. That's sort of a happy medium between enough time in the smoke and not taking all day. It works for me. For thighs, especially brined, I take them to 175°. Any less and it can appear under cooked which can be off putting.
    "Crispy" skin is a bit of an enigma. Realistically, "bite through" skin is a more reasonable target. There are thousands of tricks and methods for achieving this, but the only sure fire way I've found is to scrape the fat from under the skin and lower the smoker temp. Usually I just let it roll at 300° and if the skin turns out rubbery (which it usually doesn't) I just don't eat it.
    If you truly want crispy skin, scrape the fat and let the chicken dry in the fridge for 24 hours. Then run hotter in the smoker, say 325°-350°.
    Or, you can just take the chicken out of the package, toss it on the smoker and wait til it's done. It'll still be delicious.
  6. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    BBQBrett, you said that you will foil chicken with some liquid partway through.  How does that work?  I'm not sure what that is.
  7. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here is some ideas, injected, Brined and nekkid! If its your first, I suggest nekkid to get your feet on the ground. But if you want to brine one I can understand that also. 

    Smoking Turkey w/ Q-View: (Injected)

    Smoked Chicken w/ Q-View: (Brined)

    Smoked Chicken w/Q-View: (Nekkid)

    It is my favorite smoke! When you master a chicken everyone will praise your skills.
  8. Not sure how much you have seen on the site but it is just like a lot of people do with ribs. I will let the chicken pieces smoke on low for about 90 minutes. Then I take some foil an wrap them. In the foil I will normally add some apple juice although I have tried other juices as well. Maybe some butter and honey to go with the juice and possibly a little extra rub. You can also do this in a disposable pan which might make it a bit easier and just cover the top with foil. Then I let the chicken cook for another 45 minutes to an hour before I sauce etc.
  9. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the explanation, BBQBrett.  We often buy chicken pieces so I will try the foiling sometime and see how that goes.

    Foamheart, I like your suggestion for starting with a nekkid chicken and I did read the links you posted, and I will try that when I have the chance and let everyone know how it goes.  When you smoke nekkid chicken, do you put a pan with water or other liquid in the smoker?  if not, do you foil it, or do anything to help keep it moist? 

    I have apple wood chips here so I will probably use that when I smoke them.
  10. You are welcome Smokedad. Let us know how the smoke goes.
  11. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I plan on smoking some chicken this weekend, depending on what is going on at home that I don't know about.  More than likely it will be thigh and breast pieces, as I'm pretty sure that is what we have in the freezer.  For chicken out of the freezer, is there anything special to do for it, besides allowing it to fully thaw?  I don't plan on brining it, just putting a rub on it.

    I have read several times on this site to let chicken (and other meats) fully dry, or pat it dry, before smoking.  Is this just personal preference, or does it help the smoking process?

    I also had a question on cooking temps.  I have read posts where people smoke chicken low and slow and others that say they cook at around 300 - 325.  I always assumed that low and slow meant 225 - 250.  While I know that there are many ways to smoke chicken, is that decision based on how much time you have to smoke it, how crispy you want the skin, or just personal preference?  I'm more interested in juicy chicken than really crispy skin, so maybe it's just about time.
    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
  12. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I smoked chicken for the first time this weekend.  I used my Weber grill with indirect heating, and apple chips for smoke.  All I had were thigh pieces so I did those.  I took Foamheart's advice and did nekkid chicken.  I just oiled the outside a little and seasoned with some salt and pepper, then put them on the grill and let them go.  They turned out great, although I forgot to take pictures.  They had a great color from the smoke and tasted delicious.  Thanks to everyone for their advice.
  13. Good to hear it went well. What do you have planned for the next time?
  14. smokedad

    smokedad Smoke Blower

    I would like to try some ribs or other pork next time. I think we have some ribs in the freezer so maybe that will be next. I would like to try something that takes a few hours to do so that I can get some practice with maintaining cooking temps. Also, I would like to try one of the rubs that I have seen on this site, so something bigger like ribs would be good.
  15. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Ribs are definitely a good choice!

  16. johnmeyer

    johnmeyer Smoking Fanatic

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