Thursday, April 22, 2021

Smoked Whole Chicken

A smoked whole chicken is the perfect solution for busy families. Enjoy it as a main course or break it down to use in your favorite recipes.

This is hands-down one of the easiest ways to cook a whole bird. Rub on a blend of spices, let it marinate overnight, then stuff the cavity before smoking.

It’s ready in about an hour and is sure to be the most tender, flavorful chicken you’ve ever eaten.

Are you regularly feeding a crowd? Use your smoker to make a juicy pork tenderloin or chuck roast as well. You can even cook a whole turkey in there!

For something a little different, try my new favorite meatloaf recipe. It’s got a crispy exterior and loads of sweet and smoky flavor.

Smoked Whole Chicken cut up and on a white platter

Smoked Whole Chicken

  • Want a milder flavor? While the cayenne pepper brings a nice warmth to the skin, you can leave it out entirely if you are sensitive to spice.
  • Separate the skin first. Taking an extra minute or two for this step will make applying the rub so much easier.
  • Let it rest! If you cut into the bird too soon, all of the juices will escape onto the serving tray instead of redistributing throughout the meat.
  • Be careful when slicing. It will still be very hot despite having rested, and you don’t want to burn your fingers.
Smoked Whole Chicken ingredients

Smoked Chicken Internal Temp Guide

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh to get the best reading. Be sure the probe isn’t touching any bones or hasn’t poked through into the cavity.

All poultry is considered done and safe to eat once it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

What You’ll Need For This Smoked Whole Chicken Recipe

  • Smoker - Wood pellet varieties allow extra flavor to be infused into whatever you’re cooking.
  • Your favorite flavor wood chips - I love this blend and use it for just about everything.
  • BBQ Tray - Use this for both marinating the bird and transferring it back inside once it is done.
  • Meat Thermometer - A digital version will be easiest to read, and be sure it’s the kind that can stay inside the smoker the entire time.

Seasoned Smoked whole chicken recipe

FAQ - Common Recipe Questions

What side dishes go best with smoked whole chicken?

Honestly, there’s not much that doesn’t pair well with this recipe. For a simple meal, add a green salad or your favorite roasted vegetables.

Any one of my pasta salad recipes is great for a cookout, and you can’t go wrong with a big plate of homemade sweet potato fries. Plus, kids will go wild for this rainbow fruit salad.

If you’ve got enough room in your smoker, you can toss in some potatoes or corn on the cob towards the end.

Why does the dry rub go under the skin?

For flavor! This way, the spices are in direct contact with the meat, and the skin acts as a barrier to hold it all on.

Smoked whole chicken recipe

Can I make smoked whole chicken on a grill instead?

With something like a Big Green Egg, absolutely. Soak the wood you want to use at least 2 hours before, up to overnight.

Then set the grill to indirect cooking, heat it to 350°F, and follow the directions as listed.


With love from our simple kitchen to yours. 

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Smoked whole chicken recipe

Yield: 4
Author: Donna Elick
Smoked Whole Chicken

Smoked Whole Chicken

A smoked whole chicken is the perfect solution for busy families. Enjoy it as a main course or break it down to use in your favorite recipes.
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 1 H & 15 MTotal time: 1 H & 25 M


  • 2 pounds chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  • 1 small white onion, sliced
  • 1 fresh sage leaf
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Butcher strings. About 2 feet


The night before the cook
  1. In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients for the rub. Mix well. Set aside.
  2. Take your chicken out of its packaging. Empty the cavity and rinse with cold water.
  3. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place your dry chicken on a tray.
  5. Drizzle the olive oil all over the chicken.
  6. Apply the dry rub in between the skin and the meat. Sprinkle some in the cavity and apply the remainder of the rub all over the top of the chicken.
  7. Use the butcher string to tie the legs and tuck the wings so they don’t burn.
  8. Cover the seasoned chicken with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight.
Morning of the cook
  1. Preheat the smoker to 350°F. Choose your favorite wood, I am using pecan on my pellet smoker but maple, hickory and mesquite are also amazing.
  2. Stuff the lemon, onion and sage into the cavity.
  3. Place the chicken in the middle of your smoker insert probe (if using).
  4. Smoke for 60-80 minutes or until the probe or an instant thermometer reads 165°F.

Smoked Whole Chicken cut up

Originally published April 2021

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