How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

Smoking two whole chicken using an electric smoker.

If it’s your first time smoke-flavoring a whole chicken, you might feel at a loss as to how to do it. Of course, there is a learning curb in every process, especially in the smoke-flavoring of a whole chicken. But this learning curve isn’t that steep. Of course, there are secrets you need to learn to do it well, and these secrets you need to know by heart to raise your skill level in smoking chicken a notch higher. 

In this post, you’ll learn the easy steps to successfully smoke a whole chicken and delight your guests afterward with your delicious creation. Once you’ve gained mastery of these steps, you can indeed become an expert. Soon after, you would be smoking whole chicken with ease using your electric smoker recipe. You can prepare it with herb BBQ dry rub and wet brine. Moreover, you can smoke it over applewood and end up with a bursting flavorful smoked chicken.

Simple Steps on how to Smoke a Whole Chicken Using an Electric Smoker

As someone who wants to learn how to smoke a whole chicken the right way using an electric smoker, it will be of great help if you follow the following succinct steps on how to do it:

Step 1: Prepare Your Ingredients

When smoking a whole chicken, the preparation is as necessary as the actual cooking. So, at the onset, you need to prepare your ingredients well. You can combine all your ingredients in a bag and mix them well. Then, put the chicken in the bag. Make sure that it is free of air before you seal the bag. Mix the ingredients thoroughly until the mixture entirely coats the chicken. Afterward, let it rest inside the fridge until you are ready to cook it. 

Of course, rubbing pre-smoked chicken is the primary step in the smoking process. You can use a dry and spice-accented rub mixture. When done with seasoning, you can heat indirectly or slowly the chicken. You need to do the seasoning process well because it will do a wondrous thing to the smoking process. 

Step 2: Preheat the Electric Smoker

The smoking process is a slow cooking process. Hence, you need to preheat the smoker to at least 250°F. The preheating temperature, however, should not go beyond 275°F. Remember that you want to cook slow and thus, you need to maintain the temp at this 250°F.

Step 3: Choose the Wood You Would Use

Wood comes in different types. Wood adds a delightful flavor to the smoking process because of its unique smoky smell. The popular woods used for smoking chicken is oak, apple, pecan, hickory, maple, and mesquite. Once you’ve zeroed in on specific wood chips, you can start stuffing the electric smoker with your chosen wood chips. 

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Step 4: Put your Chicken inside the Smoker

By this time, you have already heated the smoker to the necessary preheating temp. So, you can put inside the smoker racks your chicken. Once the chicken reaches a temp of 165°F, you can remove it, for it is good to consume now. 

It would usually take 3 to 5 hours to achieve this temperature for the chicken, depending on the size and weight of the chicken. Hence, you need to have a thermometer at hand to monitor the chicken’s temperature and avoid overcooking it. You can smoke the whole chicken at 225°F. 

Moreover, it will usually take 45 minutes to smoke each pound of chicken meat. Thus, to completely smoke an entire chicken, you need to smoke it for 2 to 4 hours. Nevertheless, it depends on how quickly the chicken can reach an internal temperature of 165°F.

Step 5: Remove the Chicken from the Smoker

You can remove the chicken from the smoker once it reaches the 165°F temperature. Let it rest for a while on a tray. If you want to achieve a crispier taste for your chicken, you can broil it for a few minutes in the oven and let it rest for ten to fifteen minutes.

Important Tips You Should Consider When Smoking Whole Chicken

Aside from being cognizant of the simple steps on how to smoke an entire chicken, you will also find it beneficial to know the following essential tips to consider when smoking whole chicken:

  • The smoking quality differs depending on the smoker type you are using. There are different brands and models of smokers in the market. If you happen to get one of the best smokers at hand, you can quickly monitor the internal temp of the chicken and end up with a quality smoked chicken. 
  • The role of the thermometer is crucial to the smoking process. It will help determine the right temperature for preheating and for heating the chicken. Some smokers can determine the internal temp of the chicken, and when it senses that the internal temp is already 160°F, it automatically shifts to warm mode while it stops cooking. 
  • The exact duration of smoking chicken differs depending on the chicken’s size. Yet, the average time for smoking chicken of moderate size is from two to four hours. 
  • Once done with the smoking process, let the chicken rest for twenty minutes before devouring or serving it.  
  • Add to the water bawl some water up to two-thirds full. You can prevent the wastage of fuel by using hot water. 
  • You should place the pre-soaked wood chips in the chip box. You can stuff the chip box full to avoid refilling it from time to time. Of course, a full chip box is good enough to smoke the whole chicken.
  • You should monitor your smoker’s temperature until it reaches 200°F.
  • You should place the chicken with its skin side up. Make sure that the chicken is as flat as it can be on the rack. It will cook quickly in this position. It will help to remove its breastbone to enable it to lie flat. Moreover, you will find it easy to cut when you’re done with the smoking process. 
  • You should maintain a constant temperature throughout the smoking process. Once the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F, it is ready for taking out. 
  • After a couple of hours, you can turn over the chicken to complete the smoking process. You can use your thermometer to figure out if the chicken is already cooked. Once done, let the chicken rests for ten minutes to allow its juices to move to the center. 
  • You can also use barbeque sauce as well as liquid smoke to enhance the smoked chicken’s flavor further.
Also Read:  How Often Should I Clean My Smoker?

Frequently Asked Questions about Smoking Whole Chicken

Once you’ve known the straightforward steps and additional tips on how to smoke whole chicken, it will likewise help if you are cognizant of the following FAQs about the smoking process of whole chicken, for these questions might be the same questions you have in mind:

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a Whole Chicken Take with Electric Smoker?

You got to consider factors like the weight and size of the chicken to figure out the exact duration. On average, you can completely smoke an entire chicken within 3 to 5 hours using the electric smoker.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke a 5-pounder Chicken at 225°F Perfectly?

On average, you can smoke a 5-pounder chicken at 225°F within four to five hours. Yet, this still depends on the temperature you will use. Once the center of the chicken or the leg hits 165°F, and the thigh parts reaches 170°F, the chicken is already done. 

On average, How Long Would It Take to Smoke a Whole Chicken?

It depends more on the weight and size of the chicken and the temperature of the smoker. On average, you can smoke an entire chicken within three to five hours. It will be best to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken to precisely know if it is good enough for taking out of the smoker. 

How Long Would It Take to Smoke at 225°F a Whole Chicken?

As mentioned above, it will take three to five hours on average, though it depends still on the chicken’s size and the smoker’s temperature. The important thing is to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken because it is the best indicator of whether the chicken is already done.

Also Read:  Best Wood for Smoking Fish


Whether you want to enjoy eating or having dinner with some guests, serving a smoked chicken will always be a pleasant idea. Yet, you need to get the smoked chicken recipe correct and the smoking process right. If you fail to monitor the chicken’s internal temperature, you may end up with a half-cooked or an overcooked smoked chicken, which will not be satisfactory to you and your guests. 

So, if you want to smoke chicken perfectly, you need to be mindful of the abovementioned steps and tips to ensure that you will end up with a perfectly smoked chicken. Remember that the preparation of the chicken is as much necessary as the actual smoking of the chicken. So, you need to do well with the preparation likewise to ensure that your guests and yourself will enjoy the delicious and appetizing taste of a perfectly smoked chicken.

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