Looking for a fantastic Smoked Whole Chicken? Well, look no further! This chicken comes out amazingly tender and juicy with a wonderful smoky flavor. It does take a little planning; the whole bird goes into a brine for 24 hours before smoking. Making it one of the juiciest, tastiest chickens you may have ever made!
Anytime you are planning to smoke something for dinner, it is a commitment, and this smoked whole chicken is no exception. But for people who love to use their smokers to cook, it’s about the experience and the end result, not the time it takes to get there.
WHat goes into southwest Smoked whole chicken?
Well, obviously a chicken, but there are 2 parts to this southwest smoked whole chicken. First is the brine, then the dry rub.
- Kosher salt
- Brown sugar
- Red onion
- Whole peppercorns
- Spicy dried chile peppers
- Cayanne pepper
- Ancho chili powder
- Celery salt
- Garlic powder
- Whole chicken
- Olive oil
HOw to prepare a whole chicken for the smoker
The first step in the process is to prepare the brine. In a large stockpot, add the water, Kosher salt, brown sugar, thinly sliced red onion, crushed garlic, whole peppercorns, and coarsely chopped dried Chili Morita.
Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until the Kosher salt and brown sugar have completely dissolved. Allow the brine to cool completely to room temp or below before placing the chicken into it. If you do not, the hot brine will begin to cook the chicken. This may cause dangerous bacteria to form in your pot and on your chicken.
If you want to speed the cooling up a little, you can add a few cups of ice to the brine. Don’t add too much, or you will dilute the mixture, but a few cups of ice are fine. You can also place the stockpot in the refrigerator to help cool the brine.
Once the brine is cooled, place the chicken in, making sure that it is completely submerged. Cover and place the stockpot in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours.
It is best to turn the bird over in the brine at least once during the brining process as the chicken tends to partially float in the brine. This ensures that all sides of the chicken get a good soak in the brine.
When you are preparing to cook the chicken, remove it from the brine and discard the brine mixture. Rinse the chicken with cold water, place it on a large tray or platter and pat it dry with paper towels. Then prepare the dry rub.
preparing the Dry Rub
In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder, celery salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken and sprinkle on the dry rub. Make sure you rub it into the chicken and cover the entire outside of the bird.
Quarter the onion and place the pieces into the cavity of the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for about 30 minutes and come up to room temperature while you preheat your smoker.
It doesn’t matter if you have a big green egg and are using charcoal, a pellet grill smoker like a Traeger, or an electric or gas smoker. You are going to want to bring your smoker up to 225 degrees F. Remember, low and slow is the best way to smoke your food.
How long does it take to smoke a whole chicken at 225 degrees?
The cook time for your southwest whole smoked chicken will vary. Remember the smoker’s motto; you always smoke to an internal temperature, not a time. But a general rule of thumb is that it will take between 45 – 50 minutes per pound to smoke a 5 – 6 pound chicken.
Place your chicken on the smoker grill breast side up and start smoking. I like to use a combination of applewood and hickory when I smoke chicken. This combination just seems to provide the best smoke flavor, I think.
Continue smoking your chicken, replenishing the wood chips, chunks, or pellets as needed until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. You should always take the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh, not the breast.
I use my trusty Thermoworks Thermapen instant-read meat thermometer. It is quick, easy to use, and gives me an exact temperature in a second every time!
This post contains affiliate links. As a Thermoworks Affiliate, I earn a small portion from qualifying purchases at no extra charge to you.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the smoker. Cover it with foil and allow it to rest for at least 10 – 15 minutes before you start carving it.
How do you keep chicken moist when smoking?
Most smokers out there have a water tray or vessel that you should keep filled while you are smoking your meat. I know I usually have to refill the tray in my smoker once or twice if I’m smoking something for a long period of time.
This water tray helps to keep the humidity up inside your smoker. This, in turn, helps what you are smoking to retain a little more moisture. But the real reason this chicken is sooo tender and juicy is that we brined it before we smoked it.
Here is a super tip for you if you have a vertical smoker with multiple racks. Place a foil pan under the chicken while it is smoking to catch all the juices and drippings. I use these drippings to make what I think is the tastiest smoky flavor gravy ever!
What to serve with southwest whole smoked chicken
The great thing about smoked chicken, or even grilled chicken, is it pretty much goes with everything! This fabulous southwest smoked whole chicken is no exception.
It doesn’t matter if you are serving it with a couple of side salads like potato salad and a macaroni salad for a light summer meal or with a baked potato for a heartier meal. This smoked chicken is the perfect protein.
Pin it HERE!!
Pin it HERE!!
- 1 whole chicken (5 -6 lbs)
- 1 small onion, sliced in quarters
- Olive Oil for rubbing on the chicken
- 5 quarts of water
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 Tbsp whole peppercorns
- 3 dried Chile Morita peppers, coarse chopped (or other spicy dried peppers)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- ½ tsp ancho chili powder
- ½ tsp celery salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- In a large pot, add all the ingredients for the brine and bring to a boil. Simmer until the Kosher salt and brown sugar have dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. (Very important! Add a little ice or put the pot in the refrigerator to speed the cooling).
- Once the brine has cooled to room temperature or below, place the whole chicken in the brine. It should be fully submerged.
- Place in the refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. Turn the bird once in the brine if possible so that all sides can get a good soak in the brine mixture.
- Remove the bird from the brine and rinse with cold water. Discard the brine mixture.
- Set the chicken on a large platter or tray and pat dry with paper towels.
- Drizzle olive oil all over the chicken and sprinkle the dry rub onto the chicken, rubbing it in. You should cover the entire outside of the bird with the dry rub.
- Place the quartered onions into the cavity of the chicken.
- Allow the chicken to rest and come up to room temperature while you preheat your smoker.
- Prepare your smoker and preheat to 225 degrees F.
- Place the chicken into the smoker and smoke.
- I like to use a combination of hickory and applewood for smoking chicken.
- Generally speaking, it will take about 45 – 50 minutes per lb to smoke your chicken at 225 degrees. (depending upon the size, a smaller bird may cook a little quicker). Remember, you need to make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165 degrees F. Check the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the smoker, cover with foil and let the chicken rest for 10 - 15 minutes before carving.
- Serve with your favorite side dishes, like pasta salad, creamy potato salad, or baked potato.
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John Boos Block RA02-GRV Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board with Juice Moat, 20 Inches x 15 Inches x 2.25 Inches
IMUSA USA Stainless Steel Stock Pot 20-Quart, Silver
MAIRICO Ultra Sharp Premium 11-inch Stainless Steel Carving Knife - Ergonomic Design - Best for Slicing Roasts, Meats, Fruits and Vegetables
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 332Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 76mgSodium: 7745mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 24g
Recipe calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is estimation only. If you need nutritional calculations for medical reasons, please use a source that you trust.