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3 Secrets to Smoking Great Chicken

By Eric Morningstar

Few meats out there absorb the smoky flavors of a long and low smoke like chicken.

There’s hardly a human being out there that can resist a juicy, smoked chicken offering.

So let me give you a few secrets I’ve uncovered over the years.

Before You Smoke it, Rub it.

Rubs aren’t just for pork or beef. Season your chicken with a rub of your choice even if it’s only salt and pepper at least 10 minutes before smoking it.

It’ll give you the best burst of flavor in the end.

We highly recommend Red Beard Seasonings out of Willard, OH.

Every rub we’ve tried from Brad’s veteran-owned seasoning arsenal has been awesome.

Try their Chicken Dust seasoning. It’ll kick your chicken up a notch.

Pro Rub Tip: When smoking dark meat like quarters, peel the skin back and apply the rub on the soft meat underneath.

Speaking of dark meat, it can be tough to achieve a crispy skin when slow smoking chicken.

Here’s my first secret to a crispy skin…

Use the Fridge As A Crisper

That’s right.

Apply your rub under the skin and pull the skin back over the rub.

Then place the pieces of chicken on a pan or plate in the fridge uncovered for about 6 hours.

The cool, dry air in the fridge will dry the skin before you smoke it.

Works every time.

Another secret to crispy skin…

Turn up the Heat and Smoke

The cooking temperature greatly affects the outside of your meat.

That’s why I prefer to smoke my dark meats between 250 and 275.

And I only smoke chicken breasts at 225.

If you turn the cooking temp up a bit and increase the amount of smoke in your smoker, you can get a crispier skin on your chicken.

Take a look at these pictures of a whole chicken being smoked by Todd and Diane at

The chicken looked like this at a lower temp and lower smoke

But when they smoked a chicken at a higher temp and more smoke, it looked like this…

No matter what cooking temperature you choose, make sure to track your inside meat temperature.

All chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees at the thickest parts before it’s safe to eat.

And let it rest for several minutes after removing it from the grill/smoker.

That allows the juices in the center of each piece to expand to the outsides of the meat.

Use these tips the next time you smoke chicken and let me know how it goes for you!


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