How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

Smoking a whole chicken is one of the common suburban dad’s favourite pastimes, and rightfully so. In case Thanksgiving is too far ahead and cooking an entire turkey is a bit too much of a hassle, fear not, for we have you covered. Whether it is for a garden or a BBQ party, these tips and tricks will surely aid you in your endeavor to cook a whole chicken at once, in that trusty smoker. This is how to smoke a whole chicken in an electric smoker.

If you don’t have an electric smoker, then take a look at my guide to the best electric smokers

Rub Spice and Set Temp

The first step is to ensure you rub a delicious BBQ spice rub all over the chicken. Next, set your smoker at a precise internal temp of 250 degrees F. In the case your smoker happens to be one that works along with a range of temps so to speak, keep it above 250 degrees F at all costs. Letting it range between 250 – 275 degrees F is usually a recommended option. Your choice of wood will totally depend on your personal tastes, and ought to vary as such.

Choose Wood

The good thing about poultry is that it goes deliciously well with a vast range of different woods. Maple, pecan, hickory, oak, apple, whiskey… whatever your preferred wood of choice may be, it matters not, for the resulting product will be smoked and infused perfectly with your desired flavors savory goodness.

Rinse and Prep

The second step to go about doing is rinsing the chicken in, particularly cold water. Any excess skin, or fat, especially around its skin and in and around the chicken’s cavity should be removed and trimmed.

Chicken legs should be bound together using kitchen string, or perhaps butcher’s twine —depending on what you have available. Minimal differences are seen in the two strings. If you are a sucker for neatness and presentation, fold the chicken wings behind the chicken’s back.

This elevates the presentation and brings a nice visual touch to the otherwise edible prospects at play here. And then of course once all that is done, pop that tied-up bad boy in the machine.


An in-built meat probe tends to make one able to monitor the smoking process well. Until the temp of the wings i.e. the chicken’s legs does not reach at least 165 degrees F, make sure you keep at it. But even then some problems may arise that may not be to your liking.

For example, the smoker may fail to crisp up your skin, as many smokers often do. The meat could be perfect and sumptuous, but the skin may feel dry, even rubbery and tough instead of crispy, as rotisseries tend to make it.

For Crispy Skin

In such instances, when you truly miss that old crispiness, but the smoked chicken in the oven for just over 30 minutes. Basically, take it from the smoker after it is done, when its internal temp is about 145 – 150 degrees F, and pop it in your oven that should be one of at least 375 degrees F, and keep cooking until the internal temp of your meaty chicken reaches 165 degrees F. To store up and lock in the juices, let the cooked chicken rest for about 15 or 20 minutes before chowing down.

Additional Info

For the best smoky goodness, make sure to use good lump charcoal. Users report a mesquite lump charcoal tends to be very efficient and goes well with whole chickens. If the grill of your smoker in which you smoke happens to have an offset smoker box, then do remember a few things.

Split the lit charcoals from the unlit when filling your box with charcoal. DO NOT pile them on together. The lit charcoals ought to be closest to the vent while the unlit charcoal ought to be closest to the cooking chamber.

This is a technique primarily designed for efficiency. It allows the charcoal to slowly burn its way towards to smoker grill and not burn all at once. It is highly recommended you use good quality smoking wood chips if that is the route you would rather take over lump charcoal.

In such a case make sure to soak your wood chips in water for at least 30 min before starting the process. If you use briquettes, irrespective of how good their quality may be, they are unable to produce intense smoky goodness on their own.

They will be aided well by the smoking wood chips. These you may buy, for they are readily available, or you may gather your own. It is possible to harvest one’s own wood chips for smoking from fruit tree trimmings e.g. stone tree trimmings, apple or the ones mentioned earlier.

The cooking or smoking time is going to inevitably vary depending upon how big or small your chicken is and the temps able to be reached by the smoker and function at, or the temps you set your smoker to.

Hence a good way to check whether or not your meat is done is by checking the internal temp of it. Veterans can usually determine doneness by mere feel and sight, but we newbies need help, and technology is some very good help.

The thickest portion of the breast should be between 165 – 170 ° F, for that tends to work the best. Under normal circumstances, the avg chicken in the avg smoker should take about 3 and a half to 4 hours for such results.

But nevertheless, the timing may still vary considerably depending upon the breed and hence the size of your chicken (GM chickens tend to be larger), and the temps reached by your smoker. If your temps tend to fluctuate, and if maintaining consistent heating and temp is impossible for your smoker, the timings may vary as well.


Ladies and gentlemen that is how you smoke a whole chicken in a smoker without cutting or carving it initially. We hope you enjoy our recipe in action. Happy smoking folks!

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