7 Tips for Making Smoked Chicken That Tastes Delicious

Whether you’re having dinner guests or just wanting to have a classic, simple meal with your family, smoked chicken is a bbq meal that will please just about everyone. But only if you get that smoked chicken recipe right! Use your pellet grills (we prefer this over electric smokers) and follow these tips for fall-off-the-bone, juicy smoked chicken!

Pat your chicken dry.

I’ll say it again, pat dry! This will help to give you a crisp, bite through skin at the end of cooking. If you’re going to make more than one chicken, try to buy them around the same size.

Keep seasoning simple

Rub the chicken with your favorite seasoning blend. A little garlic, salt and pepper, and olive oil or butter may be all you need. The smoke flavor is the star of the dish here, so no need to over-season. You can put a quartered onion in the cavity along with more garlic. Tie the legs together to ensure a uniform shape and even cooking. You don’t want that smoked chicken wing to be done hours before the breast!

Use a mild hardwood

Use Cookinpellets Perfect Mix which offers a premium blend of hickory, cherry, hard maple & apple – No Fillers Ever – always 100% top hardwoods! You’re looking to get that great smoke flavor without being overpowering, so the right wood blend is important with a milder protein like chicken.

Start your smoker temperature at 225 degrees

The best smoker temperatures for chicken are around 225 degrees.  Preheat your smoker for even cooking. We’ll start low, and heat it up later to crisp up that skin.

No peaking!

After preheating, put your chicken right on the grill and leave it to smoke for an hour to an hour and 30 minutes. Don’t peak! There’s no reason to open the lid – just trust your thermometer! You need to conserve the heat and precious smoke to maintain consistent smoker temperatures, giving you a superior smoked meat.

Last blast

To finish it off, give your smoked chicken a heat blast! When it is about 3/4 done, or about 140 degrees, crank up the heat. Bringing the heat to 325 degrees or so will crisp up the skin. Chicken cooked low and slow is juicy and delicious, but the skin comes out tough and rubbery. If you want the best of both worlds, the heat blast at the end renders the fat from the skin, while the chicken finishes cooking. This should be another 30 minutes or so longer, but possibly more, so trust your thermometer instead of the clock.

The BBQ sauce is the final step

If you like to use bbq sauce, add it at the VERY end of cooking. Give that skin time to crisp up, then baste on the sauce for the last few minutes.

Don’t overcook!

Pull the chicken out when a thermometer in the thickest part temps out at about 160 degrees. Allow the smoked chicken to rest under a loose tent of aluminum foil, and the temperature will rise the last few degrees to finish cooking. Carve, and enjoy the best smoked chicken you’ve ever had!

Bonus tip: Make two!

If you love smoked chicken, you might as well make two while you’re at it! Then you can have one whole chicken for your main meal, with some additional chicken thighs, chicken legs, and chicken wings on the side. Then take extra smoked chicken breasts and shred it for the most amazing bbq chicken sandwiches the next day. Bonus!


  1. Ray on August 20, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    FYI. Should be peeking not peaking.

    • JHEBERT111 on January 5, 2023 at 1:13 pm

      aaaa You are correct!!

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