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Smoked Whole Chicken

5 from 1 vote

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Smoked Whole Chicken is a delicious and easy way to get juicy, flavorful meat cooked in a smoker for your summer BBQ! A great grilling cookout recipe with dry rub. Gluten free dinner idea.
The Smoked Whole Chicken resting on a baking sheet after cooking

This Smoked Whole Chicken will be the star of your summer grill out! Tender and juicy chicken smoked with a simple BBQ rub.

Smoked Whole Chicken half sliced up sitting on a baking sheet

Why You Will Love This Recipe

Whole chickens are so easy to make and a great way to get both dark and white meats for a crowd.

We made this for a summer BBQ party and it was the star of the show!

With tons of flavor, this chicken comes out juicy with minimal effort.

Use a smoker or grill with a pellet pack.


These are the ingredients you need to make this smoked chicken recipe:

  • Whole Chicken
  • Chili Powder
  • Dry Mustard
  • Onion Powder
  • Cayenne Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Cumin
  • Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • BBQ Sauce (optional, for basting if desired)
The Smoked Whole Chicken resting on a baking sheet after cooking


  • Smoker
  • Grilling Meat Thermometer
  • Small Bowl
  • Kitchen Twine
  • Cutting Board or pan for applying rub
  • Smoking Chips/Pellets – Luckily you can use just about any flavor wood that you may be using for other recipes.
    • Hickory pellets are our favorite go to since it has a strong and slightly sweet flavor.
    • Oak pellets are another great option as it is a lighter flavor.
    • Mesquite pellets are a popular choice that has a strong flavor like hickory but is also sweeter.

Grilling Meat Thermometer – A thermometer with an app is the best so you have real-time updates of your temperature at your fingers.

Instruction Overview

Remove any packages inside the chicken.

Pat dry your chicken with paper towels.

Tie the chicken legs together with kitchen twine.

Make your dry rub and apply the rub over all surfaces of the chicken.

Hands patting dry rub into the chicken

Put the chicken in the smoker with meat thermometers inserted into the dark meat, without touching bones.

Cook about 4-5 hours until the dark meat registers 165F.

The chicken in the smoker

Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.

Smoking with a Pellet Smoker versus a Grill

A pellet smoker is specifically designed for smoking, typically just called a smoker. You would use pellets which are small pill-like pieces of wood that have been pressed together.

You can also smoke in a grill by using wood chips that are soaked in water and place in a covered dish with holes.

What is preferred?

We have a combo grill/pellet smoker that has both options side by side. The pellet smoker makes it super easy as things are “automated” where the temperature stays constant and you have to do little maintenance during cooking.

A grill requires more work with reloading new chips with water once they run out of steam. It is more effort but a great option if you do not want a literal smoker.

If you plan to do a lot of smoking, I recommend getting a smoker or the combo grill/smoker!

Modifications and Substitutions

Use any BBQ rub that you like.

Add more cayenne if you want the rub to have a spicy kick.

Kim’s Tips

Use a meat thermometer that can be left in the chicken so you know when it is done and can check on it. We use the Meater digital wireless meat thermometer which is amazing because it has preset options, timers, and alarms.

The pink ring around the outer edge of the chicken is the smoke ring! This is a good sign and does not mean it is undercooked.

Tying the legs together helps give you an even cook since the chicken is being bundled up into one mass.

Smoked Whole Chicken sliced up on a baking sheet
Pin of Smoked Whole Chicken sitting on a baking sheet with title at top
The Smoked Whole Chicken resting on a baking sheet after cooking

Smoked Whole Chicken

Smoked Whole Chicken is a delicious and easy way to get juicy, flavorful meat cooked in a smoker for your summer BBQ! A great grilling cookout recipe with dry rub. Gluten free dinner idea.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: BBQ, Chicken/Turkey, Gluten Free, Summer
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Resting Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 238kcal


  • 1 whole chicken about 4-5 pounds

BBQ Rub (or use 2/3 cup of your favorite rub)


  • Preheat your smoker to 225°F with your wood chips or pellets (I like to use hickory, but use any flavor you like).
    If using a grill, put the chips in a metal pant, covered, with venting holes on the grill.
  • Mix the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
    ¼ cup chili powder, 1 Tablespoon onion powder, 2 Tablespoons salt, 1 Tablespoon cumin, ½ Tablespoon brown sugar, ½ Tablespoon paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon dry mustard, ½ teaspoon cayenne
  • Remove any packages inside the chicken.
    Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
    1 whole chicken
  • Tie the legs tightly together with twine.
  • Rub the spice rub into the chicken, covering all surface areas.
    If the rub will not stick, use a very small amount of vegetable or canola oil to wet the chicken just enough for the rub to stick.
  • If desired, let the chicken sit with the rub for at least 30 minutes to help the flavors absorb into the meat (not required).
  • Put the chicken into the smoker, beast side up, after it has preheated to 225°F.
    Put a grilling meat thermometer into a leg at the thickest part, not against any bones.
  • Smoke until the internal temperature is 165°F in the thighs, typically 4-5 hours.
    You might need to smoke longer just depending on your smoker and if the meat stalls at all.
  • Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.


Want to really crisp up your skin? You have a few options:
  • Let the chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator up to 1 hour before smoking
  • For the last 5 minutes of cooking, amp up your smoker or grill to 400-500F to expose the skin to a high heat.
Using a grill? Insert a foil pouch of the wood chips with holes in it.


Serving: 1leg | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 71mg | Sodium: 1935mg | Potassium: 365mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2603IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 3mg

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By on December 26th, 2022

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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