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Smoked Whole Chicken (Garlic Herb or BBQ)

Smoked Whole Chicken (Garlic Herb or BBQ)

This is the BEST Smoked Whole Chicken recipe. When smoking chicken you’re left with extra crispy skins and juicy meat. Whole smoked chicken, just like Smoked Chicken Legs and Smoked Chicken Wings, only requires 10 minutes prep time.

Whole chicken is coated in a simple mixture of olive oil, herbs and lemon juice (or BBQ) then cooked smoked low and slow, to create a perfectly seasoned crust to compliment the juicy interior infused with smoke.

More popular smoker recipes: Smoked Pork Chops, Smoked Tri Tip and Smoked Picanha.

Ingredients

The only must have ingredient is the whole chicken itself and oil! All the other spices are optional. We have two favorite flavors to choose from:

Garlic Herb – Lemon, Italian seasoning and garlic.

BBQBBQ rub and Barbecue sauce.

Raw whole chicken on a silver baking sheet.

How Long To Smoke A While Chicken

Wondering how long to smoke chicken? The smoke time will vary depending on the weight and shape of the bird you’re cooking along with other factors, such as outdoor weather (how cold or windy is it?), so it’s difficult to calculate an exact cook time.

Here’s two guidelines to utilize:

How long does it take to smoke whole chicken at 275°F

It takes approx. 2-2.5 hours when maintaining a constant temperature between 250°F and 275°F.

How long does it take to smoke whole chicken at 375°F?

It takes approx. 60-90 minutes when maintaining a constant temperature between 350°F and 375°F.

Seasoned poultry on a baking sheet.

How To Smoke A Whole Chicken

Full instructions are in the recipe card, but here’s a quick overview so you know what you’re in for:

  • Dry Brine the Bird (Optional) – For extra crispy skin, dry brine the bird with salt.
  • Tie, Dry and Season the Bird – Remove the giblets, truss the legs and season away.
  • Smoke – Carve out 2 – 2.5 hours cook time.

Internal Temperature

The bird is ready when the breast meat reaches 165°F and the thigh meat reaches 175°F. Make sure to take the temp on both sides of the bird, unless you’re cooking via a rotisserie. Use the lowest temperature of the two.

Also make sure the thermometer isn’t touching any bones as this will affect the reading.

Smoked Chicken Temperature

The goal is to keep the ambient smoked chicken temp as close to 275°F as possible. If you’re opting to use a manual smoker aim to keep it between 250 – 275°F.

Tied poultry on a grill.

Smoking A Whole Chicken

Smoking a whole chicken is easy when using the best smoked chicken recipe! This recipe can be made on any grill, however we don’t recommend a gas grill for longer cook times, such as this one. Full instructions are in the recipe card.

For beginners, here’s a quick cheat sheet for each type of grill:

  • Charcoal – Pre-heat the coals until just washed over. Dump them in the middle of your grill and open the vents to 25%. Create smoke by placing wood chunks directly on the pre-heated coals.
  • Pellet/Electric Smoker – Pre-heat your grill to 225°F. Follow the manufacture’s instructions to get an even smoke.

Supplies

  • Energy Source – The chicken will be on the grill for hours so make sure you stock up on your selected energy source: charcoal, pellets, propane, gas, etc.
  • Smoking Wood –  Chunkschips or pellets.
  • Thermometer – Always use a thermometer. Always. Our go-to digital thermometer is the Thermaworks Dot. It never fails.
  • Water Bottle – Use it to spritz the bird while cooking. We use inexpensive spray bottles from Amazon.

Wood Recommendations

Wondering what wood to use to make for a flavorful whole chicken? There are quite a few that work well. Pecan is our favorite when smoking poultry. It lends a nice sweetness to the meat. Cherry wood and apple wood are great options as well.

If you want a heavier smoke flavor, opt for oak. We don’t recommend using hickory wood due to the intense flavor.

Cooked chicken on a grill.

Dry Brining

Like super crispy skin? The key is to dry brine the bird to help draw excess moisture out of the skin before cooking. It’s a simple process, but does take advance planning as it needs to dry brine for a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24 hours. 

Check out the recipe card below for the “how to dry brine a chicken” instructions. To read up on the specifics of why this works, check out this informative article on the topic.

Recipe Tips

  • You can replace the oil with butter, if you prefer, however the oil is what crisps up the skin.
  • We always place a small bowl of water in the smoker when cooking for long periods, to help keep moisture in the meat.
  • Make sure to spray the grill or rack prior to heating up, to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick to them.
  • As with all chicken recipes, do not leave out at room temperature for more than two hours. If you have leftovers store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Use leftover bones and/or meat and make Instant Pot Bone Broth.

Smoked chicken on a silver baking sheet.

Side Dish Ideas

While you’re already using the smoker, why not throw on a few veggies to round out the meal? Here’s what we love serving next to poultry:

Smoked Potatoes
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Smoked Asparagus
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Ensalada de Papa

Leftover Chicken Ideas

If you have leftover chicken, check out all our chicken recipes and soup recipes for ideas! 

What Wine Goes With Chicken

Wine – Syrah, Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Champagne

Smoked whole chicken on a silver baking sheet.

Smoked Whole Chicken

This is the BEST Smoked Whole Chicken recipe. When smoking chicken you’re left with extra crispy skins, juicy meat and an impressively easy dinner. Smoked chicken only requires 10 minutes prep time. See more chicken recipes.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken, Healthy Recipes, smoked chicken recipes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 272kcal
Author: Darcey Olson
Cost: $12.00

Ingredients

  • 4-5 lb whole chicken
  • 1 lemon, zested and quartered
  • 4 tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ¼ tsp onion powder

Instructions
 

OPTIONAL SALT BRINE

  • Up to 24 Hours Before Smoking: Pat dry the chicken with paper towels and generously rub salt on the skin. Transfer the uncovered chicken to the refrigerator and let dry brine for 6-24 hours.

PREP THE CHICKEN

  • Remove the giblets and pat dry the chicken and truss the legs together with butcher twine. Tuck the wing tips underneath/behind the back of the bird so they don't burn, or tie them against the bird.
    4-5 lb whole chicken
  • Zest the lemon and save the rest for another recipe, or quarter it and place the pieces inside the chicken cavity.
    1 lemon, zested and quartered
  • Add the lemon zest, 2 tbsp of olive oil and the rest of the ingredients to a small bowl and stir to make a paste. Coat the chicken as evenly as possible, on all sides.
    4 tbsp olive or avocado oil, divided
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    1½ tsp Italian seasoning
    1 tsp salt
    ¼ tsp onion powder
    ½ tsp black pepper

COOK THE CHICKEN

  • Pre-heat the smoker to 275°F. Add the wood chips and place the chicken, breast side up, on the smoker rack.
  • At the 45 minute mark, rotate the chicken (for even cooking) and spray with extra cooking oil (or use a basting brush, but go light!) to help crisp up the skin.
  • At the 1.5 hour mark, rotate the chicken (for even cooking) and spray with extra cooking oil (or use a basting brush, but go light!) to help crisp up the skin. The temperature of the breast should be around 140°F and the temperature of the thigh should be around 150°F.
  • Around the 2 hour mark, the thickest part of the breast should be 165°F and the thickest part of the thigh should be 175°F. Keep smoking until the thermometer registers these temperatures.
  • Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 368mg | Potassium: 235mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.4g | Vitamin A: 163IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
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