How To Smoke Chicken

by Dennis
(Madison Wisconsin)

Smoked Chicken

Smoked Chicken

Tonight I plan to use my smoker/grill for the first time to smoke chicken. My smoker has an off-set box to hold the charcoal. I plan to cut the chicken into pieces, but don't know:

1. How much charcoal to use?
2. How long I should smoke the chicken?

Any advice would be helpful!



Hey Dennis,

You picked the right bird to smoke! Smoked chicken is absolutely delicious and most importantly smoking it is one of the best ways to turn out moist succulent breast meat.

To answer your questions specifically about charcoal is difficult because it really depends on the consumption of your smoker. When your cookout is over, just close the vents to your smoker and your fire will die so you don't have to waste any charcoal.

I use a Monolith ceramic grill that’s surprisingly economical but I guess in the first instance it’s suck it and see. Better to overdo it than under so be generous with your charcoal.

If doing a whole chicken I work on 60 minutes per pound at 230°F but because you’re doing pieces you should be able to get away with slightly less. Smoking however is also a slow roasting process so even if you over do it on the time, your chicken will still be succulent. The temperature of the meat when cooked should be 165°F (74°C) for breast and 180°F (82°C) for wings and thighs.

Try putting the pieces on pre-soaked cooking plank, this helps too.

To be sure about sealing the juices in, don’t cut up the bird, smoke it whole. Click here for my fail safe smoked chicken recipe.

One final point how to smoke chicken when doing a whole one - let it rest when the cooking is complete for a couple of hours (upside down) so that all the juices solidify in the breast.

Note: - Don't expect crispy skin when cooking at this temperature. It's a reaction call the Maillard reaction that causes the skin to brown and crisp, and this reaction will not happen at cooking temperatures lower than 300°F (150°C).

See Also:-

Smoked Chicken
Safe Cooking Temperatures
Plank Cooked Chicken

Return to Home Page from How To Smoke Chicken

Comments for How To Smoke Chicken

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 08, 2009
Smoke it whole
by: Chef Matt

Definately smoke the chicken whole. Most birds come from the market as 2- 2.5s with gibs. Paul nailed it at 1 hour per LB. The skin and cavity will give flavor layers as opposed to really smokey chicken. I use 1/4 chicken or make a roulade when I want really smokey birds but I cut it upfor chicken salad and mix with mango chutney, diijon and mayo as well as other stuff so I need the extra smoke as it marries well in the grand theme of the salad. Let me how it comes out.

Jul 07, 2009
off-set smoker first run
by: CB

I'd recommend you use lump charcoal and start it in a chimney, dumping it into the box after it's started..where you've also places some fresh charcoal.
Get the cooking chamber warmed up first, before placing the meat in for smoking.

Monitor the temperature in three places:
1. at the passage between the fire box and the food chamber. (hot)
2. at the opposite end of the food chamber (less hot)
3. occasionally at the stack.

Manage the air flow using only one of the vents at a time. There is one on the fire box and one on the chimney. By adjusting these one at a time you'll learn what's going on and how to adjust.

Once the meat is in the chamber, don't check it too often - if you have a remote thermometer - especially one that can read the temp of the meat as well as the chamber - you are better off.

Use dry chips - and I'd say chunks - of preferred wood. If you are new to smoking, then a milder wood is easier to learn with - and gradually increase the amount of smoke and types of wood you use - until you get a sense of what you like for different types of meat.

No need to "soak" chips cause all that does is steam before smoldering. If you've got your charcoal coals right then adding a small chunk or two every so often is about all you need.

Watch your overall temperature and don't be timid about moving meat around in the cooking chamber to adjust and get the right exposure of heat. Remember further away from the fire box is always going to be cooler - sometimes by as much as 50F degrees if you are not careful.

There are, of course, modifications you can do to your smoker to make it more efficient, more air-tight and hold heat. If you've purchased a basic smoker for under a couple hundred dollars - it is what it is! It will do an OK job for beginners - but don't beat yourself up if the first couple of smokes are not perfect. Get some smoke on the chicken and then finish it on a grill (or the firebox) or in the kitchen's all about learning to get the results you want.

By the way, you may want to smoke pieces, rather than the whole chicken - only to ensure it all cooks and gets exposure to least until you get the hang of your cooker. Or you could spatchcock it, that is a term which simply means to remove the backbone and butterfly it out.

Dark meat takes a bit longer to cook than does white - but when smoking, at least for the first couple hours - it's all about maintaining a temp in the cooking chamber of about 225F - 250F degrees and getting some smoke on the chicken.

Happy Grilling! - CB

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAQ's.

Solo Build It!

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Charcoal Grills

Build A Brick BBQ Grill

Stainless Steel Inserts For a Brick BBQ Grill

Stainless Steel Charcoal Grills

Adjustable Height Charcoal Grills

Charcoal Barbecue Grills

Cook 'N' Serve Range

Custom Made Charcoal Grills

Custom Built To Your Specification

Replacement Stainless Steel Cooking Grates

Replacement Stainless Steel Cooking Grates


Offset American Smoker Manufacturing

Reverse Flow Smokers

Custom Built Trailer Smokers

Commercial Smokers

Please Help
Keep This Site Free!

Many Amazon merchants pay us a small referral fee when you click this link and purchase from them...

It makes no difference to the price you pay but it really helps me continue improving this website. If you like what I'm doing then save this link and use it every time you go to Amazon. For whatever you purchase through this link (it doesn't have to be barbecue) I heartily thank you in advance.