How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in Electric Smoker

Updated March 17th, 2020

It has to be said that cooking chicken normally gets mixed responses from most people. If you’re at a barbecue, most times, people don’t cook chicken as easily as they would other meat. Reason being is that you can take a perfectly good chicken from tender to dry in seconds. Whilst with other meats like beef, lamb and pork, you can, to a degree, without too much effort, control the way it will turn out in the end.

Chicken? Well, lets say that whilst it’s a simple bird, it can go drastically wrong too. Now, the one way we know that works like a charm, when it comes to this tricky guy, is smoking him. Don’t be scared! It’s quite a simple process.

How to Prepare your Chicken for Smoking

First clean and de-innard your chicken:

Brining is a good habit to get into with any form of chicken. It  is a method of basically soaking your chicken in water, salt and a few other optional ingredients. You should soak a whole chicken for about 3 hours. This way the water and spices soak into the chicken and make for a much tastier, tenderer cooked chicken. Whilst the brining process is happening, prepare your rub.

There are no rules to what spices to use in your dry rub, but we like these combos:


  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • A little brown sugar

Mix all or a few together, making the salt and pepper your base always. Coat your chicken all over, inside and out with your rub. Tie the legs of your chicken with some string and she is ready to go.

The Smoke Flavor

Again, this depends on what flavor you like, but we feel these mixes work well with chicken:


  • Apple
  • Hickory
  • Oak

Time Taken

Set your smoker temperature to 250 degrees-F. Once your smoker is warmed up and your wood chips are in place, pop your chicken on the racks, with no cover.

Make sure your drip tray is ready underneath with no water inside.
Cooking time will vary – but around 3 hours should be good. Check the leg temperature to be around 165 degrees F and then you should have a cook-through chicken.

Crispy or Not

rsz_outdoor-leisure-products-smokeIf you aren’t partial to whether the skin is crispy or not, remove your chicken and allow her to rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

If you want a crispy skin, which most do, then pop her in your kitchen oven for a quick grill. Just watch that you don’t burn the top of your perfectly cooked chicken. If you have used sugar in your rub, the skin will burn quicker, so just watch it like an eagle!

Finally, serve your most tender smoked chicken with either a variety of salads or mixed veggies. Chicken pretty much goes with any add-ons.

bbq chicken sandwich whole chichicken

And if your electric smoker has the space for two whole chickens, then use that space. There is nothing more satisfying than leftover chicken on a sandwich for lunch the next day.

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