Smoked Whole Chicken (2 ways) is a delicious and simple recipe that is perfect for summer! Learn how to smoked a chicken whole with this easy recipe (using your Traeger or other favorite pellet grill). Dry rub and brine options are included!
Best Ever Smoked Whole Chicken
Let’s learn how to cook a whole chicken in the smoker!! We used a Traeger, but feel free to use whatever smoker you have – let’s get cooking! This is the perfect recipe for a summer cookout or family gathering and we love using the leftovers (or just smoke an extra one) to make Smoked Chicken Salad (makes such good sandwiches)- so good! We also have an optional Smoked Chicken Brine and one of our options for cooking the chicken uses our Smoked Chicken Rub! And if you love whole smoked chicken you have to try our Smoked Beer Can Chicken and Smoked Chicken Wings – both amazing recipe!
Why This Recipe Works (2 Options)
- Brine (optional): if you want to take the extra step to brine your chicken before smoking it we have a great Smoked Chicken Brine for you! It only adds to the juiciness of the bird.
- Smoked Chicken Dry Rub (optional #1): okay Option #1 is a classic dry rub – so simple and packed with flavor.
- Garlic Butter (option #2): Option #2 involves a Garlic Butter rub (with lots of salt and pepper) – so incredibly good!
- Smoking at 225 Degrees: I love smoking most recipes at 225 degrees F, at least for the vast duration of the cook time. It really maximizes the smokiness.
- Let is rest: always let it rest about 10-15 minutes before serving so those juices can redistribute.
Whole Smoked Chicken Ingredients
- 1 batch smoked chicken dry rub (option #1): I absolutely love the mix of flavors here – such a good mix of onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, etc.
- olive or avocado oil: this is rubbed on the chicken before the dry rub.
- whole chicken: we generally look for a 4 pound chicken, but just adjust the cook time if you find a bigger or smaller one.
- butter + minced garlic (option #2): for option 2 you will need some softened butter and minced garlic!
- kosher salt + ground black pepper: to elevate that flavor.
How Long to Smoke a Whole Chicken
Using an approximately 4lb whole chicken (fully thawed and cavity empty) and smoking at 225 degrees F. it will take approximately 3.5 – 4.5 hours to smoked a whole chicken. That being said the best way to track when your bird is done is to keep track of the internal temp. Every smoker can be different and there are always so many variables at play when when determining how long it will take to become fully cooked (such as humidity, hot spots on your smoker, wind, etc). Use an internal meat thermometer or probe to track your internal temp – if you feel like your internal temp is plateauing you can always turn up the heat a bit (say to 235 or even 250) towards the end of cooking time.
What to Serve with Smoked Chicken
- Smoked Broccoli
- Smoked Asparagus
- Smoked Green Beans
- Smoked Potatoes
- Smoked Mashed Potatoes
- Smoked Baked Beans
How to Carve a Chicken
If you are looking for a tutorial on how to carve a roasted chicken, here is a great tutorial!
How to Smoke a Whole Chicken
Ensure your chicken is fully thawed and the cavity is completely empty (double check!). Pat dry with a clean paper towel.
Option #1: if you are opting for option #1 you are going to make up a batch of our Smoked Chicken Dry Rub and, after drizzling olive oil over the chicken, you are going to rub the dry rub all over.
Option #2: if you are opting for option #2 then you are going to whip up some garlic butter.
Rub that ALL over the chicken and then sprinkle generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
Ensure smoker is set to 225 degrees F. Place chicken on the smoker and close the lid (I generally don’t like using a pan as it blocks some of the smoke and, as a result, the smokey flavor won’t be a strong).
Let smoked for approximately 3.5 – 4.5 hours (but always track your internal temperature with an internal meat thermometer or probe). The internal temperature of the breast should reach 160-165 degrees F and thighs should reach 170-175 degrees F. Remove from smoker and let rest 10-15 minutes.
Carve, serve and enjoy!
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Whole Smoked Chicken (2 ways) – a juicy and delicious smoked whole chicken recipe with dry rub and brine option too!
- 1 batch smoked chicken dry rub
- 1–2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
- Approx. 4 lb whole chicken
- (see Notes for Option #2)
- (optional) Make a batch of our Smoked Chicken Brine and brine your chicken for 12-24 hours. Remove from brine and pat dry.
- Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.
- Ensure chicken is fully thawed and and the cavity is empty.
- Pat chicken dry with a clean paper towel. Drizzle with olive oil and rub all over until it is fully coated.
- Combine smoked chicken dry rub in a small bowl. Take dry rub rub all over the chicken, including under the skin where you can – ensure you get into every nook and cranny.
- Use kitchen or butcher twine to truss the chicken legs together and tuck the wings.
- Place chicken on the smoker (breast side up) and close.
- Let cook approximately 3.5 – 4.5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Keep an eye on your smoking chips so you don’t run out!
- Remove from smoker and let rest 10-20 minutes before carving (cover will aluminum foil).
- Option #2: instead of using the Smoked Chicken Dry Rub you can take 2-3 tablespoons softened butter and mix with 2-3 teaspoons minced garlic and then rub that all over the chicken (including under the skin where you can) then sprinkle generously with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Smoke according to the instructions above.
- Smoke Time: the best way to track when your bird is done is to keep track of the internal temp. Every smoker can be different and there are always so many variables at play when when determining how long it will take to become fully cooked (such as humidity, hot spots on your smoker, wind, etc). Use an internal meat thermometer or probe to track your internal temp – if you feel like your internal temp is plateauing you can always turn up the heat a bit (say to 235 or even 250) towards the end of cooking time.
- Brine: if you want to brine our Smoked Chicken Brine before you smoke – feel free! It still turns out amazing even without the brine, but if you have time and want to try something different it is a good one!
- Hot Finish: if you want more crispy skin you can take off your bird when it hits 160 degrees F. and then transfer it to a grill at high heat (500 degrees) and place it on there for about 5 minutes.
- Leftovers: got leftovers or smoked an extra bird – we love this Smoked Chicken Salad!
- Wood Chips/Wood Pellets: I love using cherry, apple wood, pecan or mesquite here!
- BBQ Sauce: feel free to baste with your favorite BBQ Sauce during the last 30 minutes of cook time!
Keywords: whole smoked chicken