Monday, February 21, 2011

Hot-Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

While "Low and Slow" may be the rule when it comes to us using our smoker, every rule has its exceptions. We sometimes use it more like a standard barbecue, but with smoke as an added bonus.

Hot-smoking chicken is one of our favorite applications of this technique. The smoking takes less than a couple of hours, so as long as you've prepped your chicken ahead of time you can smoke it and eat it for dinner all in one evening.

We put a spice rub (see the recipe at the end of the post) on the bird either the night before or the morning of smoking. While it is better with more time, it still works fine even if you only do it a few hours before you want to start smoking the bird.

Smoked Chicken

Fire up the smoker to about 300°F and place a foil covered empty water pan into the cooker as a drip tray. Put on smoke wood (pecan and mesquite are nice), and smoke the chicken at 300-330°F for 60-75 minutes or until the temperature of the breast meat is just over 160°F.

Smoked Chicken

The result is tender and juicy, lightly smoky and packs a flavor punch and some heat from the spice rub.

Smoked Chicken

Definitely a great way to enjoy a chicken. If you've been neglecting your smoker, this is an easy way to get yourself back into the groove.

Spicy Chicken Rub

You can make any quantity: if you use teaspoons you'll get about 1/3 cup (enough for about 2 chickens). Use tablespoons and you'll end up with a little less than 1 cup.

3 parts New Mexican Red Chile Powder (substitute Ancho if needed)
3 parts Mexican Oregano
2 parts Paprika
2 parts Cumin
2 parts Dried Parsley
1 part Garlic Powder
1/2 part Cayenne
1 part Kosher Salt

Mix everything except the salt together. Grind in a spice grinder until the parsley and oregano are chopped very finely. Add the salt and mix thoroughly.

Hot Smoked Chicken

Season the bird either the night before or the morning of smoking. To butterfly your chicken, simply use some kitchen shears to cut down each side of the back bone and remove it. Then turn the bird over and press on the breast bone to flatten it.

1 4-5 pound Chicken, butterflied
2-3 tablespoons Spicy Chicken Rub
Kosher salt
Smoke woods such as hickory, pecan, alder or mesquite

Sprinkle kosher salt evenly over the bird, on all sides (use about 1/2 teaspoon per pound). Lay the bird on a tray, skin side down and sprinkle with some of the spice rub. Turn the bird over, skin side up and sprinkle a generous portion of spice rub evenly on the skin. Store the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered until ready to smoke.

Heat the smoker to about 300°F, add smoke wood to the fire, and place bird on the grill (use an empty water pan covered with foil as a drip tray). Smoke at 300-330°F for 60-75 minutes or until the internal temperature of the breast reaches about 160-163°F. Remove from smoker and let rest 15 minutes before carving.


  1. That Chicken makes my mouth water! It looks so good.

  2. Hi Kirk - it's all about the skin. Cooked this way, it doesn't end up crispy, but it is rich, succulent and delicious.

  3. Mike, how did you about my shameful neglect of my smoker? ;-) That chicken looks awesome. I think I'll dust off the smoker this weekend and smoke some chicken for the Mister.

    Do you think removing the chicken a little early and then finishing off under the broiler, maybe 5-10 minutes, might crisp up the chicken without drying out the meat?

  4. Hi Carol - I definitely think that finishing under a broiler would work. I have to admit, though, that I've become a bit partial to soft chicken skin lately. I blame Hainanese Chicken Rice...

  5. Great! I might give it a try but I kind of like soft skin too. I'll let you how it turns out.

  6. Hot smoked chicken is indeed awesome and convenient. I dry-brine my chicken overnight (rubbing it with 1tsp of kosher salt per pound of chicken, as well as the generic bbq spices) and cook it on my Weber grill over indirect heat with a chunk of cherrywood or applewood on the coals.

    To make things go faster, I cut the chicken in half by cutting out its spine, removing the keel bone, and slicing the thing in half. I fire up half a chimney of lump charcoal, dump it in one side of the grill with the wood chunk, put the chickens on the other side, close the bottom vents halfway so the environment doesn't get too hot (the oven thermometer I keep in the grill reads 250-300 usually), and lid it up.

    I use a digital thermometer that I can stick in the chicken breast and broadcasts to a receiver I can carry around the house that gives me the meat temp. I pull the chicken out when the breast hits 165 or 170 if I'm being cautious. It usually takes 40-50 minutes, and the dry brine seasons the meat right down to the bone.


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