Suggestions for Smoking a Whole Chicken?????

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by killer b, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. I am going to be smoking my first whole chicken and am looking for any opinions on whether or not I should spatchcock it or just leave it whole as is?  Also, if you have any smoking suggestions (times and temps) or any rubs that turned out great for you please let me know!  Thanks!

  2. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Ya know B,For a first and probably for an easier prep. time on the first one , I believe I would do a Beer can bird. Brine her in 1/2 and 1/2 S/P with some other spices you like. I'm doing one tomorrow also and added ground Cloves to it,along with Chicken powder(bullion),some Mc Ilhennes Tobbasco and garlic. Sink her with a plate and let her swim for the night. I'll grab her and deal with the rubbing it uin the morn.

    I'll fire -up and put her over my hot spot(about 300* to 325*f) for 2.5 or 3 hrs. when the therm. reads 165 or more in the thigh , then move her to the side fire I'll have. doing two or three different things tomorrow , a big Picnic , the bird , some onions I will be using for French Onion soup , some kind of taters , and whatever I can think of at the store in the morn.Oh,yes. I'm doing some Pinto Beans Too. Beans,water,S/P , Smoky Bacon and onions , in the smoke for as long as it takes the Picnic ,then finish on the stove if needed.

    Plus I'll be taking shots of my stuff and cleaning the garage some,the Golf cart comes in in a few weeks(more shi% to move around).

    Until then Ya'll........
  3. My standard setup is brine for at least 24 hours, rub goes under the skin, and smoke to 165 in thigh. At least 250 degrees. Use your favorite wood.
  4. davidhef88

    davidhef88 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I leave them whole, dont brine, just rub and throw in 225 to 250 smoker till 165 in the thigh (usually between 3 1/2 to 4 hrs) depending on size of the bird.  Always comes out juicy and delicious.  I really like apple wood for them.
  5. I smoked my first whole chicken yesterday, and I spatchcocked it. I think it makes it easier for a new smoker, since it takes less time, imho. Good luck, mine turned out great except I went a little easy on the salt. So a little bland after the skin and top layer. Next time I may try brining it.
  6. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with Vision... rub goes UNDER the skin.. start from the neck and work your hand down under the skin and seperate it from the breast being careful not to tear the skin. Then work a finger or 2 around the thigh and legs. I do this before I brine so the brine really gets into the meat.

        here's the rub I use on mine. try this then adjust to your taste

    Southwestern Beer Can Chicken Rub

    1 chicken (about 4 pounds)

    1- 12 ounce can of beer

    For Rub:

    1 tablespoon chili powder

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon salt

    1 teaspoon sugar

    3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    1/2 teaspoon allspice

    1/2 Teaspoon Cayanne Pepper

  7. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    I put a beer in the rear rub her down with my rub than  set the smoker to 300F and let it ride... pull off smoker when it hits 165 in the breast.. Good luck
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have 4 beer-can chicken roasters, but never use them anymore...why???...I prefer quartering, just so I can get the breast meat and dark meat out at my desired temps of 165/170, respectively. Dark is more gforgiving than white meat for moisture if over-cooked, and 165 can be dicey near the bone in thighs/legs, so it's 170* for me with dark. I never had much much luck with whole birds, either laying on their back or on a can roaster, as I seem to end up with over-cooked breast meat while trying to get the thighs to finished temps. Well, let me just say that with whole birds, sometimes it works for me, and sometimes it doesn't...quartering gives me the best chance for a great eating bird.

    Yeah, a whole bird coming out of the smoker looks impressive, but, presentation on the plate doesn't include a whole, for me, it's all about the quality, and, getting the bird out before it's overcooked is a huge part of the quality.

    My latest dry rub for yard birds was for naked (skinless)...flavors are not the run-of-the-mill for smoked bird...mildly spicy and sweet, with great backgound flavors:


    4 Tbls coarse ground red bell pepper

    4 Tbls powdered light brown sugar (ground)

    1 Tbls ground rosemary

    1.5 tsp ground thyme

    1 tsp cumin

    1/2 tsp ground oregano

    1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

    1 Tbls ground black peppercorn

    1/2 Tbls ground garlic

    1.5 Tbls paprika

    1/2 Tbls chili powder

    2 Tbls kosher salt

    ***Apply a light to moderate coat of olive oil to the skinned/prepared bird, then apply dry rub.  

    Recipe is from:

    I don't smoke birds often, but when I do, I want it to be well worth my efforts...hence my desire for quartering, in most situations.

    If you forget or disregard everything else, do remember and adhere to the final cooking temps because overcooked = dry bird.

  9. Thanks for all the info!!  They all sound dang tasty and my mouth is like Niagara Falls right now and it's only 8:15!  Maybe I'll have do do multiple chickens and see which one turns out the best.  I will keep my eye on the temps because I definitely don't want a dry bird.  Thanks again for all your input and if you can think of anything else to throw out there feel free as I want to learn as much as I can!!  I'll make sure to take pics as I go along.  Thanks again!

  10. smokinal

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

    IMHO you just can't beat beer can chicken!
  11. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

  12. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    This is how I do "Beer Can Chicken" on the reverse flow (stickburner)

    Remember food safety especially with chicken, do not "cross contaminate" and keep a bleach based cleaner on hand with some paper towels to wipe everything down each step of the way.

    When working with chicken get everything ready and mixed before ever handling the chicken.

    I don't brine the smaller birds especially when smoking beer can style, I don't see a need for it but if your into brining and injecting... go for it!
    • Preheat RF to 350°.
    • Mix some sweet basil with butter or your preferred slather to rub up underneath the skin in the breast area, recommended for larger birds.
    • Prepare your beer can and pour half of the beer into a drip pan, add a cup of apple juice or water, take a can opener and remove the top of the beer can.(if making a gravy, add some chopped onions)
    • Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, remove the gizzard goodie bag, rinse the chicken and set aside.
    • Add the giblets and neck from the bag and a teaspoon of rosemary to the beer can. If you want to make gravy, you can add salt and other spices such as garlic and onion powder and when you remove the can from the chicken, place in a pot and dress up a bit, get creative here. Some people do not like the taste of liver, so you may not want to add the liver to the beer can if making gravy. I have noticed that spices such as Rosemary and Thyme added in the can really impart flavor throughout the chicken.
    • Place the Beer can on a cookie sheet. Rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, butter or your preferred slather then add your favorite rub or spices. Place the chicken on the beer can. For smaller Birds there is no need to worry about the breast drying out, so buttering, oiling or slathering the breast under the skin isn't really necessary, however feel free to slather for a more intense flavor. I will use flavored oils sometimes, like rosemary and garlic.
    • Place a drip pan under the “Beer Can Chickens”, I place a cast iron grate directly on top of the reverse flow plate under the cooking grates and place the drip pan directly on the cast iron grate to help keep the drippings from quick evaporation and burning.
    • With the smoker heated up tot 350°, remove the “Beer Can Chickens” from the cookie sheet and place directly on the grates.
    • Let the temp creep down slowly to 250°, the slower the better.
    • Smoke 1-1/2 - 2 hours.
    • The safe temp to cook a whole chicken is 165°; I don’t mind overcooking these guys because they still come out OK and is the preferred way to smoke these by my family, just make sure to get some butter up under the skin at the breast area if your going to cook these above 165° or if they are larger birds, because the breast may dry out smoking past 165°, although I never had a dry "Beer Can Chicken" yet.
    • Remove the “Beer Can Chickens” from the smoker, place in a clean steamer pan (hotel pan) and rest for about at least 15 minutes.. If you are making gravy, do so while the chicken is resting.
    • To make the gravy, take your drippings, transfer to a pot add 1/4 cup vermouth or dry white wine, simmer on low, reduce by half, reduce heat.
    • After the rest, remove the bird from the beer can and pour the contents from the can into the gravy you started earlier, taste your gravy, tweak to your liking, then thicken with arrowroot or cornstarch, preferably arrowroot.
    • Remove the skin and place the skin on the still hot grates, if there's a hot spot on your smoker place the skin fat side down on the hot spot, for those using a Stickburner with a hot firebox, fry the skin on a skillet on top of the firebox and for the braver folks, fry right on the firebox.
    • Carve the chicken, after the all the carving is done, cut the skin into strips to serve with gravy alongside the chicken.

    I use steamer pans (hotel pans) instead of foil pans because there is less chance of mishaps with a sturdier pan, however they are a bear to clean when they get a good coating of smoke on them. I will sometimes use foil Pans as drip pans.

    The chicken makes for an incredible chicken salad the next day.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  13. billyj571

    billyj571 Smoking Fanatic

    How did it come out ?
  14. raymo76

    raymo76 Smoking Fanatic

    As suggested to me by smokinAl I try to maintain a temp between 300 - 350 and go for 175 in the thigh's. I will use a layer of mustard then put my rub on. The last time I didn't use mustard and I didn't do any spritzing, I sold these to a cousin who hasn't had my chicken yet and he gave a chicken to his in-laws and all loved it. Said the skin was nice and bite through. I used Bone Suckin Sauce's seasoning rub. Cooked with lump charcoal and cherry chunks. Usually takes about 3 - 3.5 hours with 5 - 5.5 lb birds, around half way I stopped using cherry and just used the lump to maintain the heat.

    That's the way I do my whole chickens. They come out with plenty of moisture and the cherry smells so good.
  15. coffee_junkie

    coffee_junkie Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If I have time I brine, and also if I have room in the fridge. If not i have had great results just spatchcocking, rubbing with Jeffs Rub and throwing on the smoker 260-280 for about 3 hours (until internal temp shows they are done) easy, quick and delicious! If you wanna speed it up a bit you can get a brick, wrap in tin foil and throw it on top. I really like this way in the uds.
  16. KillerB,

    As a newbie, I followed the directions to a "t" as found on the SM home page but used half cans of Dr Pepper on my roasters after brining them in a mixture of Kosher salt and brown sugar.  We typically only eat dark meat in our house because the white is so dry, but everyone loved the white on this recipe as well.  It came out so juicy that it made a mess when slicing.  We pulled the remaining meat from the two birds and my wife made chicken salad for sandwiches for lunches the following week.  I will DEFINITELY  be doing it again!  Good luck!


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