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5 from 1 vote

Smoking Whole Chicken Recipe

Smoking a whole chicken does take some time, but that should not discourage you from trying it. You just need to brine the bird, season it, stuff it, and let it cook for a few hours. The results will definitely impress you and those you are breaking bread with.

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Smoked Chicken
Servings: 4
Calories: 244kcal


  • A large glass bowl or stainless steel pot
  • Plastic wrap or a lid
  • Paper towels
  • 1 smaller bowl
  • Wire whisk
  • Butcher’s twine
  • Electric, gas, or pellet smoker*
  • Apple, maple, or oak wood chips or pellets
  • Digital meat thermometer
  • Clean cutting board
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sharp carving knife


  • 4 pound whole chicken

For the Brine

  • 8 cups filtered water at room temperature

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

For the Rub

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 2 teaspoons dried sage

  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black or white pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Stuffing

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

  • 1 lemon, cut in half

  • 1 small tart apple, quartered


  • Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken. 

  • Save these to make gravy or chicken broth.

  • Give the chicken a quick rinse under cold running water and set aside.

  • Prepare the brine. Place the water in a large glass or stainless steel container.

  • Add the salt and sugar and stir until they are mostly dissolved.

  • Stir in the peppercorns, and bay leaves.

  • Add the chicken into the brine solution.

  • If it is not completely submerged, add more water.

  • Cover the container well with plastic wrap or a lid.

  • Place the container in the refrigerator and allow the chicken to brine for 4 to 8 hours. 

  • Remove the chicken from the brine.

  • Rinse the chicken very well under cold running water and pat it dry, inside and out, with paper towels.

  • Place the chicken on a platter or cutting board for 30 to 45 minutes so that it can come to room temperature.

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, garlic, paprika, sage, thyme, pepper, and salt.

  • Rub the entire chicken, inside and out, with the oil and seasoning mixture.

  • Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the onion, lemon, and apple pieces.

  •  Don’t force them if they don’t all fit.

  • Just get at least 1 or 2 pieces of each inside the bird. Tie the ends of the legs together with butcher’s twine.

  • Prepare the smoker by filling the water bowl half way.

  • You can toss some lemon slices in the water if you would like.

  • Add your wood chips or pellets. Preheat the smoker to 250˚F.

  • Place the chicken, breast side up, on the smoker rack and tuck the wings under.

  • If your smoker has an attached probe thermometer, insert it into the thickest portion of one of the thighs.

  • Close the lid and smoke for approximately 3 to 5 hours.

  • At 3 hours, check the internal temperature of the meat.

  • You are looking for 170°F for dark meat and 160°F for white meat.

  • The skin should be golden brown. Continue to smoke, if necessary, checking every 30 minutes.

  • Prepare your side dishes while the chicken is cooking.

  • Remove the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and tent with foil for approximately 20 minutes to allow for all the juices to be absorbed back into the meat.

  • Carve the rested chicken with a sharp knife.

  • Cut off the whole legs at the thigh to breast joint.

  • Then, cut the thigh from the drum.

  • Cut off the 2 wings.

  • Remove the breasts from the rib cage and slice the meat against the grain. 


Serving: 200g | Calories: 244kcal