So it’s a weeknight, but you have that itch to throw something on the smoker. Pulled pork? Forget about it — unless you like waking up your family to eat dinner at 4am. Ribs? Maybe you could pull off ribs in time, but you’d still be pushing the late hours and those kids need to be at school tomorrow. What about chicken? If you’re thinking that chicken on the smoker always turns out dry and disappointing, you’d be right — most of the time. But this smoked chicken recipe will put a plump juicy bird on the table with a sweet kiss of smoke that will have you eating it right off the cutting board.
There are two important pieces to this recipe. First, you need to spatchcock the chicken — basically just cutting out the backbone and laying the chicken flat. Spatchcocking helps the chicken to cook faster and more evenly. Second, you need to cook at a bit higher temperature (325°F) than you are probably used to. The higher temp is necessary to render the skin to a crispy golden brown. When I first tried smoking a chicken at 225°F, I was left with a chicken skin that could double as a fancy leather bag.
If you handle the above steps properly, you are in for a delicious juicy chicken dinner. Just be sure to take the chicken off the smoker when the thickest part of the thigh reads 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. To make this bird even better, I highly suggest seasoning the spatchcocked chicken the night before and refrigerating, uncovered, overnight. This helps to draw moisture out of the skin for even better browning and crispness while also delivering more flavor into the meat. It’s a win-win — or should I say, winner winner chicken dinner.
Looking for something you can smoke on a weeknight? Try this juicy and delicious spatchcocked chicken recipe. Your family will love you.
- One 4–5 pound fryer or roaster chicken
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons spanish sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (e.g., Sugar In The Raw)
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- Remove any gizzards from the chicken cavity and spatchcock the chicken. (see notes)
- Mix the rub ingredients together, breaking up any clumps of sugar. Generously rub both sides of the chicken with the rub. Optionally, place the chicken on a cookie sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight. (see notes)
- Set up your smoker for a 325°F cook.
- Place the chicken in the smoker, skin-side down if the heat comes from underneath in your smoker, skin-side up otherwise.
- Smoke the chicken until an instant read thermometer reads 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh (about 1.5 hours), checking at the 1 hour mark and rotating/flipping if necessary to avoid burning.
- Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before cutting into quarters (or halves if you’re hungry) and devouring. If the skin didn’t quite crisp up the way you hoped, feel free to throw it under the broiler for a few minutes before serving, but be careful the broiler doesn’t turn that skin into charcoal.
- To spatchcock a chicken, lay the chicken breast side down and cut the backbone out with a pair of kitchen shears. Then turn the chicken over and press firmly down on the breast bone to crack the cartilage, so the chicken lays flat. See my video tutorial here.
- The overnight cure serves two purposes; it pulls moisture out of the skin so that it will crisp better in the smoker and helps to drive the rub flavors into the meat.
Keywords: smoked chicken, spatchcocked chicken, yard bird, chicken