Whole Smoked Chicken on a Pellet Grill

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Whole chicken is one of my top favorite foods to smoke, and it is also one of the things that took me the longest to master.

To get juicy, delicious chicken while maintaining that delectable, crispy skin that everyone likes, you must pay attention to temperature. The temperature of the chicken, as well as the temperature of your grill.

This is where a pellet grill comes in. The option to raise the temperature of your smoker with the easy press of a button allows you to cook superb smoked chicken while still achieving that desired crispy skin.

How to prepare a whole chicken for smoking

Whole Smoked Chicken on a Pellet Grill

There are many methods to prepare a whole chicken before smoking it:

Leave it alone. Most people roast a chicken in the oven in this manner. It is possible to accomplish it on a pellet grill, but there are better options.

Chicken in a beer can The ever-popular Beer Can bird is another option in which the bird is left intact. Insert a half-full can of beer into the cavity of the bird and smoke it while standing erect. Some claim it adds taste and keeps the chicken moist, but the barbecue world is divided on whether this practice adds flavor or is a waste of excellent beer!

Divide it in half. If you compete in barbecue, especially on the IBCA circuit, you must submit one fully-jointed chicken half. It’s considerably simpler to butcher the chicken into halves before smoking it, and it gives you more control over the final appearance in your turn-in box.

Spatchcocking, also known as butterflying, is the process of removing the chicken’s backbone and flattening it. Cooking time is reduced by using the spatchcock technique, and the bird cooks more evenly. It also enables you to cover a larger surface area with the barbecue rub, resulting in a more delicious end product. This is one of my favorite methods for cooking a whole chicken and the approach I used for this dish.

Why use a pellet grill?

You may smoke chicken on any sort of grill or smoker, but a pellet grill is ideal for cooking chicken because you can rapidly raise the temperature without transporting the chicken to another grill.

I usually finish my offset smoker chicken on my barrel smoker since I can quickly raise the temperature and move the chicken towards the end of the cook.

That’s simple for me since both my offset and barrel are on my competitive BBQ trailer. When cooking in your backyard, you may not have numerous grills, or you may not want to spend the time lighting them both.

A pellet grill is an excellent tool for cooking chicken since you can easily raise the temperature and achieve both the great smoky flavor and the crispy skin on the same grill.

Related Best pellet grill recipes.

How to smoke a whole chicken on the pellet grill

1. Fire up the smoker to 250°F

This chicken was smoked on my Camp Chef Woodwind 24 pellet barbecue using Bear Mountain Bourbon BBQ Pellets. They impart a mellow, smokey taste to the chicken and are manufactured with actual bourbon barrel wood chips, so they gave an additional depth of flavor.

You may also use pecan or oak pellets for a wonderful, mellow smoke that will not overshadow the chicken. If you’re not sure what pellets to use, read our post on the 9 Best Wood Pellets for Smoking.

2. Spatchcock your chicken

If you’ve never butchered a chicken before, the spatchcock procedure may seem intimidating, but it’s really rather straightforward.

The first thing you’ll need is a set of poultry shears. I’ve tried using a kitchen knife and scissors, but I think that shears work much better.

Lay the chicken down with the backbone facing up, then use shears to cut down each side of the backbone until you can remove it.

Flip the chicken over so the breasts are facing up, then apply strong, consistent pressure to the middle of the breasts with your palms (it should seem like you’re giving the chicken CPR, without the lip portion) until you hear a crack and the bird flattens out.

3. Season with your favorite rub

To function as a binder, I prefer to start with a small coating of olive oil spread all over the chicken. I find that rubs often fall off of chicken, so I use a binder to hold everything in place.

Season the chicken with your preferred barbecue seasoning after it has been gently coated in olive oil. PS Seasoning’s Spicy Nashville Honky Tonk Seasoning was used in this dish. It’s designed to add a little spice to the flavor profile of Nashville hot chicken, and I believe it tastes great on smoked chicken.

If you want to build your own rub, check out these 5 finest smoked chicken rub recipes for ideas.

When seasoning the chicken, be sure to season both the underside where the backbone was removed and all over the breasts and legs.Season the underside of the wings as well as the underside of the legs.

4. Smoke

Place the chicken straight on the grill grates, breasts up.

After you’ve finished grilling the chicken, add a half stick of butter and a bit more of that barbecue seasoning in a small saucepan. Place the saucepan next to the chicken on the grill grates, and after approximately 30 minutes, begin basting the chicken with the melted butter every 15 minutes.

5. Get that skin crisp

After approximately an hour of smoking, the chicken should be at roughly 140F internal temperature in the thickest section of the breast.

When smoking a full (or half) chicken, use an instant read thermometer to take the temperature in the thickest portion of the breast.

This is because the breast is the slowest section of the bird to cook. If you check the temperature in the calf or thigh, you’ll get undercooked breast flesh. ThermoPro TP19H is my preferred instant-read thermometer.

When the breast hits 140°F, raise the temperature in the smoker to 350°F to allow the skin to crisp up during the remaining half of the roast.

Allow it to smoke for another 20 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest region of the breast reaches 165F.

6. Let the chicken rest

When smoking a whole chicken, it’s vital to let it rest for approximately 15 minutes before slicing into it to allow all of the fluids to redistribute.

When slicing a spatchcock bird, I find it simplest to remove the whole legs and thighs first, then the wings, and last the breasts, which are sliced for easy serving.

What to serve with your smoked chicken

Smoked chicken is a flexible meal that may be served with whichever side dishes you like. Here are some tasty barbecue sides to complement your grilled chicken:

  • Smoked Baked Beans with Bacon
  • The Best Pasta Salad for BBQ
  • Loaded Baked Potato Salad
  • Smoked Beer Mustard Potatoes
  • Easy Smoked Mac & Cheese

If you don’t want to serve the whole chicken at once, shred it and preserve it in the fridge for up to four days to use in other dishes.

On Sundays, I prefer to smoke a couple of entire chickens and then shred the meat to use in pastas, casseroles, sandwiches, and soups during the week.


How long does it take to smoke a whole chicken on a pellet grill?

1 hour of smoking at 225°F. Raise the heat to 375°F on your grill and continue roasting for 30-60 minutes, or until the white and dark flesh reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow the chicken to rest for 15-20 minutes after it has been removed from the grill.

How long does it take to smoke a whole chicken at 225?

It will take around 3.5 – 4.5 hours to smoke a complete chicken using a 4lb entire chicken (fully thawed and cavity empty) and smoking at 225 degrees F. Having said that, the easiest method to tell whether your bird is done is to monitor the interior temperature. What exactly is this?

What temperature do you cook chicken in a pellet smoker?

Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest portion of the chicken breast and place it in the middle of your pellet grill. Smoke your chicken breast until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F at 225°F. This should take around one hour.

Is it better to smoke a chicken at 225 or 250?

The ideal temperature for smoking chicken is about 225 degrees. To ensure uniform cooking, preheat your smoker.

How long to smoke a 6.5 lb chicken at 225?

Smoking a whole chicken requires cooking at 225°F (107°C) for 45 minutes per pound of meat. This may take anywhere from 2-4 hours, depending on when the internal temperature of the beef hits 165°F (75°C).

How long does it take to smoke a 6 lb whole chicken?

A entire chicken takes around 3-5 hours to smoke, or 45 minutes per pound at 250 degrees F.

How long to smoke a 7 lb chicken at 225?

The bird should be washed. A dry rub is used to season the chicken. Preheat your grill to 225°F. Smoke for 1 hour at 225°F.

How do you keep chicken moist when smoking?

The secret to moist, supple, and juicy smoked chicken breasts is to cook them at a low temperature for an extended length of time. When it comes to smoking meat, the phrase “low and slow” is crucial. Keep the temperature as near to 225°F as feasible, but no higher than 250°F.

What temperature do you smoke chicken for 4 hours?

It may take up to 4 hours to thoroughly smoke a whole smoked chicken (or more) at 225°F. At that time, the internal temperature of the smoked chicken should be between 160°F and 165°F in the thickest section of the chicken breast, and 170°F to 175°F in the thighs.


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