How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

There’s no denying the obvious fact that the skin of a smoked chicken appears so delicious that the sight and the smell alone are enough to stimulate your salivary glands, along with the taste buds. If you want your smoked chicken to come out right by the efforts of your hands, then this guide will show you how to smoke a whole chicken in an electric cooker fast and efficiently.

What you need

Before we jump into the technical know-how of smoking a whole chicken in an electric cooker, there are essential requirements you’ll need to ensure the final results is astoundingly magnificent. These requirements include;

  • A whole chicken
  • Salt paper
  • Olive Oil
  • Spice such as; onion, Chili, and garlic powders, brown sugar, and kosher salt.
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Three tablespoons of spice rub.

Don’t forget about the electric cooker as you prepare for your chicken smoking expedition. So, for the smoke, ensure you have the following;

  • Wood chips
  • Applewood


Now that you have the essential requirements ready begin by removing the chickens’ backbone. It will be easier that way to smoke as it lays flat to ensure it cooks properly. Follow the procedure below if you don’t know how to remove the backbone.

  1. On the backbone side, cut using a knife from the top to the tail
  2. Spread the chicken till the breast bone is visible.
  3. Finally, cut the breast bone out, then lay the chicken flat.

After laying the chicken flat, remove the excess body parts. Remember, Even if you get your chicken from the supermarket, you should remove the giblets, i.e., internal organs.

The next process is to prep salty water or brine to soak the chicken. Brining isn’t necessary; however, if you want a juicier and tender chicken, then it’s mandatory.

Most importantly, ensure the chicken completely sinks in the water, then add about 5% salt per unit volume of the water. Suppose you have any flavors you’d like to add to the chicken, e.g., lemon wedges; now will be the best time. Remember to brine the chicken for 24 hours, then using a dry rub of your preference, season the chicken.

Notably, if you want the seasoning rub to stick and maintain the softly tender skin of the chicken, don’t forget to slather it with olive oil. Finally, tuck the wing tips under, then tie the legs to make the chicken more attractive and prevent thinner parts from burning.

Smoking the chicken

When preparing the electric smoker, add a flavored liquid approximately an inch into the water bowl holding the chicken. Also, don’t forget to oil the smoker’s rack lightly. Set the smoker’s temperatures at 250°F for preheating purposes. However, the preheat temperature should not exceed 275°F, or the chicken’s breast might dry immediately.

Put the chicken inside and ensure the skin side is facing upwards. For those new to the chicken smoking experience, you can use a probe thermometer to check your electric cooker’s internal temperature to determine whether the chicken is already cooked on the inside. Alternatively, you can pull it down to 225°F, suitable for a pound of meat to cook for 40 minutes.

Depending on the size of the chicken, the smoking process can take anywhere between half an hour to four hours at temperatures of 250°F. To ensure you’re smoking your chicken the right way, check it from time to time. Also, monitor the electric cooker’s temperature, then adjust it accordingly.

Keeping the Smoked Chicken Moist


Smoking chicken is actually quite difficult. Many end up with either a dry or tough chicken. One thing you can always do is make sure the chicken is brined. Although brining is not necessary it adds a lot of extra flavor and it can really help keeping the chicken moist.

Make sure the skin has dried out after brining, or it will get rubbery skin. As the chicken cooks, pay closer attention to the cooker’s inner temperature to ensure the chicken stay between the 300-350°F.

Having the Right Temperature

Smoking the chicken at a too low temperature can both give rubbery skin and cause the chicken meat to dry out. When smoking other types of meat, you’re very often around the 250°F mark, but with chicken should be smoked all the way up at 300-350°F.

Wrapping it in Aluminum Foil after Smoking

Immediately after taking the Chicken out of the smoker, wrap it up in a foil tent, then let it sit for about 15 and 20 minutes. This is crucial to let the juices redistribute evenly.

Checking the internal temperature of the chicken

Once the internal temperature hits a minimum of 165°F, then your chicken should be ready. This is the temperature given by the USDA.

Wood chips

As for the wood chips, there are multiple options to choose from. The popular ones include; oaks, Mesquite, Apple, Hickory, Maple, and pecan.

When to take the Chicken out of the electric smoker

Since there’s no standard timing rule when smoking chicken, you must watch it closely to avoid overcooking or burning. After about two hours, you can flip it to let the top part cook also. Once the internal temperature hits 165°F, then you know that your chicken is well cooked and so you should take it out of the smoker.

Now that it’s ready, how do you curve it for serving? Before doing anything, let the chicken sit out for about 15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. You can use the excess juices to make gravy. After the 15 minutes, begin by slicing away the legs. Next, separate the thighs and the other portion of the leg, then stabilize the breast meat using a cutting fork.

Curve away from the breast meat from the body, then slice and finish by removing the wings. Suppose you want to curve the chicken successfully, cut between its joints. And to see the joint clearly, make a slight incision first on the skin.

Is it advisable to use a water pan when smoking the chicken?

Contrary to popular belief, a water pan doesn’t really effect the moisture of the meat. Water pans can, however, help with keeping the temperature even and will improve the taste of the chicken. Some find that you will get too bitter of a flavor without a water pan, but that’s really the individual taste.

A water pan can also cause the the skin not to be as crisp as you may would like it to be, but some say this is due to the position of the water pan, and how much water there is in it.

We haven’t found much difference with or without a water pan. The most important thing, we found, is to take keep the temperature high enough, around 300-350°F, so that it gets cooked sufficiently and then taking the chicken out of the smoker while it’s still juicy.

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