How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

4.67 from 36 votes
4.67 from 36 votes

Smoke whole chicken the easy way with this electric smoker recipe. Prepared with a wet brine and herb BBQ dry rub, and smoked over applewood, this smoked chicken is bursting with barbecue flavor.

electric smoker chicken recipe

Put simply, the quality of the finished article is so much more superior than any other form of cooked chicken, whether that be rotisserie or store-bought. A whole smoked chicken is what you need to have in your life today. It’s moist. It’s juicy. And, yep, it’s smokey.

Cooking it in an electric smoker still captures the smokey flavors of traditional barbecue chicken. All while retain the moisture needed for good flavor, and aromas of the food, for a fully rounded plate of smoked chicken.

Meat Prep

Before you can put your chicken in the smoker, you need to prepare it first.

The first step in prepping a chicken is to trim it. Even though supermarket chickens come mostly ready for cooking, you still need to get rid of some excess parts. First, check if the chicken comes with giblets (internal organs) and throw those out. 

Then, prepare a brine, or saltwater solution, to soak the chicken. Brining isn’t mandatory, but it will make your chicken more tender and juicier. Make your brine by filling a container large enough to hold the chicken with water and adding 4% to 5% of salt per volume of water. You can add other herbs and flavors such as lemon wedges if you want. Brine the chicken for at least 24 hours.

Then, season the chicken with a dry rub of your choice. Before rubbing the chicken with seasoning, slather it in olive oil to help the seasoning stick and keep the skin soft and tender.

Finally, prep the chicken by tying the legs together and tucking the wing tips under. This prevents the thinner parts of the chicken from burning and makes it more attractive.

How to Keep Smoked Chicken Moist

Smoking chicken is a great way to fill the bird with flavor, but smoking sometimes dries out meat, particularly lean meat such as poultry. To keep the chicken moist, make sure to brine it beforehand. Pat it dry before adding the seasonings and smoking. If the chicken goes in the smoker with moist skin, it will dry out the interior and make the skin wet and rubbery. 

Pay careful attention to the temperature of the chicken to avoid overcooking it. Opt for a low and slow smoke instead of a high temperature that will dry out the meat.

Best Wood for Smoking Chicken

The best wood for smoking chicken or poultry is a mild, sweet wood. You want the wood to enhance the flavor of your chicken instead of overpowering it. Fruity woods such as applewood or cherry, or wood from nut trees such as pecan are good choices. A more neutral hardwood such as oak is also a good choice for smoking chicken.

Avoid strong, potent woods such as hickory or mesquite as they overpower the flavors of chicken.

Times & Temperatures

Smoking the whole chicken takes 225°F (107°C) and takes about 45 minutes per pound of meat. This can take about 2-4 hours in total, but ultimately depends on when the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165°F (75°C).


Carving a smoked chicken is similar to carving any other whole roasted chicken for serving. After you take your chicken out of the smoker, let it sit for about 15 minutes to redistribute the juices. Tip away any excess juices and use them to make gravy.

Then, start by slicing the legs away from the body. The next step is to separate the leg into the drumstick and the thigh. Use a cutting fork to stabilize the breast meat, then carve the breast away from the body, cut away from the breastbone, and slice. Finally, remove the wings.

The key to successfully carving a chicken is to cut between the joints. Before making any cut, make a slight incision in the skin so you can clearly see the joint.

electric smoker chicken recipe

Electric Smoker Whole Chicken

4.67 from 36 votes
Smoke whole chicken the easy way with this electric smoker recipe. Prepared with a wet brine and herb BBQ dry rub, and smoked over applewood, this smoked chicken is bursting with barbecue flavor.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4


  • Smoking wood chips (apple, peach or cherry)


  • 1 whole whole chicken washed
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

BBQ Dry Rub

  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp ground black pepper


  • Coat the chicken with a thin layer or olive oil. Combine all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl. Apply dry rub to chicken, working into all areas and inside the cavity.
  • Lightly pull the breast skin from the flesh. Apply the rub here too, to help get the flavors into the meat as much as possible.
  • Fire up electric smoker to 225°F (107°C). Place wood chips in wood tray drawer.
  • Place your prepared chicken in the smoker. Smoke for 4 hours, or until internal temperature has reached 165°F (75°C). Check your chicken about once every hour.

About the Author

Ben Isham-Smith

A BBQ obsessive, Ben is behind 250+ of The Online Grill’s recipes, as well as countless barbecue guides to help barbecue newbies get to grips with the world’s best form of cooking.

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