How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Whole Chicken?

You’re not alone if you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to smoke a whole chicken. The question has been plaguing home cooks for decades. Smoking a whole chicken has become a staple in many kitchens and is the best way to make your delicious barbecued poultry. Here are a few tips to help you achieve the best results and enjoy your smoked chicken for many more meals to come!

The smoked chicken is a delicious way to prepare a quick and easy dinner. The smoked chicken will add flavor and juice to your dishes and is perfect for any meal. A whole smoked chicken also makes a great leftover for sandwiches and tacos. There’s no need to worry about a meaty leftover when you’re ready to eat! There are plenty of delicious recipes that use smoked chicken, so don’t be shy about giving it a try!


To start your smoker, turn your whole chicken breast side-up so that its breastbone is facing you. Crack the breastbone to make it lie flat on the smoker, and insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast without going below the bone. Place the chicken on the smoker rack, and cook the chicken for 60 to 80 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can also baste the chicken during the smoking process. While basting your bird is optional, it’s highly recommended to add flavor to the meat and keep it moist. Choose basting sauces that contain oil, fat, and sweet or spicy flavors. You can use your favorite barbecue sauce for the glaze. There’s no need to over-sauce your chicken, as you can use it with your favorite barbecue sauce!

Smoked Whole Chicken

When you’re not in a rush, smoking a whole chicken is a terrific to prepare chicken. Why not infuse your chicken with as much smoke flavor as possible when you have the time to go low and slow? A whole chicken is frequently on sale at the supermarket (the one I used for this recipe was around $5.00). What a bargain!

Smoked entire chicken is a terrific weekend project because you can cook numerous chickens at once, and they’ll taste better than any store-bought rotisserie chicken. I prefer to save the leftover meat in the freezer and use it in dishes like enchiladas, buffalo chicken dip, or nachos. Consider it a delicious and straightforward weekend dinner prep. There’s nothing like having a bunch of excellent smoked whole chicken ready for the week’s rest.

How Long Does It Take Smoke a Whole Chicken?

At 275 degrees F, a whole chicken takes about 2.5-3 hours to smoke completely. The internal temperature of the breast should be 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the thighs should be 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit. Several factors determine a whole chicken’s cooking time. The larger the chicken, the longer it will take to cook. Second, smoker temperatures aren’t always consistent, so you can be in for a longer cook time if yours drops slightly. When smoking a whole chicken, keep a good meat thermometer available and pay attention to the internal temperature rather than the time.

It all depends on how big your chicken is. A 4-pound chicken takes around 2-3 hours to cook, but you must constantly check the internal temperature to ensure that it reaches 165°F. At 275°F, 1 pound of chicken takes around 30 minutes to cook, so do the arithmetic and watch the chicken! You can always cover it with foil if it browns too rapidly and the internal temperature of the meat remains low. If you have one of these fancy electric meat stainless steel probes with a wire, they perform much better because you won’t have to open the smoker to check the temperature, and you can constantly monitor it.

When smoking a whole bird, you must ensure the temperature of your smoker is around 350 degrees. The thickest part of the bird should reach 160 degrees inside. After an hour and a half, check the temperature to ensure it reaches 165 degrees inside. Once the bird reaches this temperature, could you remove it from the smoker? Afterward, allow the smoke to cool for ten minutes and remove it. It takes 2 to 3 hours to smoke a 4-pound chicken, which will feed four to six people. A giant bird may take up to five hours. The temperature in your smoker is most important. If it’s too hot, the chicken will not be fully cooked. If the temperature falls too low, you can shield it with foil. You can also use a digital meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature throughout the cooking process.

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken?

After seasoning the chicken, it’s time to cook it on a preheated smoker.

  • Place the chicken breast side up on your smoker (I don’t recommend using a pan since it prevents the smoke from permeating the chicken and collects liquids that generate a lot of steam) and cook for around 2-3 hours at 275°F (the exact time depends on the size of your chicken). The chicken will be roasted gently to render the fat, moisten the meat, and impart a fantastic smoky taste!
  • When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, it is done. I recommend using an electric probe thermometer to read the temperature of the chicken while it’s cooking in the smoker.
  • Check on the chicken after 45 minutes and spritz it with cooking oil or butter to help the skin crisp up and turn a beautiful bronze/mahogany color.
  • After 1.5 hours, rotate the chicken and give it another spritz or coating of cooking oil or butter to ensure equal cooking. The breast temperature should be approximately 140°F, and the high temperature should be around 150°F.
  • The length of time it takes to smoke a whole chicken depends on its size, but a general rule of thumb is between two to three hours per pound of meat. For the best results, use applewood chips, which add a delicate, sweet flavor to the meat. A thermometer is most useful when smoking chicken, and you can even leave it in the smoked chicken while smoking it to ensure that it reaches the correct temperature.

What Is the Best Wood for Smoking Chicken?

Always smoke hardwood instead of softwood; the distinction is that softwood originates from evergreen trees, while hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves in the fall. Softwood burns more quickly and holds more moisture, resulting in black smoke. For a clean, delicious smoke, use hardwood.

I usually use cherry or applewood for smoked chicken since they offer a lightly sweet, smoked flavor that goes well with the chicken. Smoking chicken with maple, peach, hickory, and mesquite is also a great idea.

What to Serve With Smoked Chicken?

  • Serve smoked chicken with mac & cheese, coleslaw, and a drizzle of Alabama white sauce, which is exceptionally delicious and hails from Texas! Alternatively, use BBQ sauce.
  • You can also serve it with just smothered potatoes and a side salad, or prepare these baked potatoes on the grill if you’re grilling.
  • If you have any leftovers, use them to make chicken salads, pasta bakes, pies, or sandwiches.

Apple Coleslaw

Coleslaw is an excellent side dish since it already has the appropriate components to balance out the richness of your smoked chicken.

  • Combining cabbage, carrots, apples, and mayonnaise is a delicious method to make coleslaw.
  • Cut the cabbage and carrots into small cubes to prepare the vegetables.
  • For extra sweetness, add some dried cranberries or raisins (optional).
  • Shred some fresh apples (this adds a great texture).
  • For more flavor, add the onion or apple juice.
  • To taste, add some mayonnaise, salt, and pepper.


You can bring your bird in a bag or a brine, and you’ll need a large enough bag to submerge the bird fully. You can also add sugar to the brine, balancing the saltiness and caramelizing the skin. You can even experiment with other liquids to make your brine, such as juices or cooking wine. Be sure to adjust the amount of salt before adding the chicken to the brine.

Once your chicken is smoked, you can use it to make various dishes. Chicken salad, pasta bake, and smoky chicken enchiladas are just a few dishes you can make with smoked chicken. You can also add the cooked chicken to shredded salads and kale salads. You can even make chicken stock using the broth from your smoked chicken.