How to Smoke a Whole Chicken

Homemade smoked chicken is delicious. You can avoid some of the pitfalls of commercially smoked chicken, like dry meat or too much salt, by smoking your bird at home using a smoked chicken recipe.

People tend to be confused about the difference between smoked foods and barbequed foods. Both cooking methods can involve smoke, and both methods use heat. The difference lies with the temperature at which foods are cooked and how far the foods are cooked away from the flames.

When you barbeque, your food is placed close to your source of heat and the food cooks relatively quickly. When you smoke food, the food is removed from direct heat and is cooked slowly.

You do not necessarily have to buy a smoker to start smoking chicken. You can use your regular charcoal grill to smoke meats. Your fire will have to be concentrated on one side of the grill while your chicken cooks on the other side, as far away from the heat as possible. You may also have to add charcoal occasionally during the cooking process. This works better with larger grills and will produce a chicken that is halfway between a barbequed and a smoked bird.

However, if you really want to enjoy smoked chicken at its best, buy a smoker. There are models available at reasonable prices for you to try smoking birds and other meats.

If you enjoy tending your barbeque, you will love working with a smoker. Tending a smoker fire is not a matter of hovering over flames for half an hour to an hour like on a barbeque. Smoking entails watching flames, heat and moisture for hours.

Chicken is a perfect meat to smoke. Chicken, properly cooked, is naturally succulent. Smoking chicken will take its flavors to the next level. The tastes of smoked chicken will burst in your mouth.

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken

  1. Prepare and clean your smoker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  2. Wash the chicken inside and out.
  3. Start your fire per your smoker manufacturer's instructions.
  4. Place the chicken breast-down on the grill.
  5. Addsome presoaked hickory chips to the fire. Soaking wood chips in water before you add them to a smoker will keep the chips from burning up too quickly.
  6. Cook your chicken for about an hour and a half, and then turn the bird using tongs. If you use a fork to turn the bird, your chicken will be less juicy.

Total cooking time will be about four hours. Use a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast to test temperature. If the temperature is about 165 degrees Fahrenheit, the chicken is done. Don't forget to let your chicken sit for about 10 minutes before you dig in.

You might like to baste your bird with olive oil mixed with your favorite chicken spices during the cooking process.

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When you're grilling a whole chicken, use indirect heat and grill the chicken covered for 30 minutes breast side up and another 30 minutes breast side down. Check for doneness using a meat thermometer and let the chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Learning how to grill chicken is one of the more difficult grilling skills to master. Chicken can be rather temperamental, burning quickly on the outside, staying raw on the inside and drying out all over.

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