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Fast With No-Fuss: How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

by Outdoor Cooking Pros September 01, 2021

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

Can anything make our mouth water faster than seeing the beautifully smoked skin of a roasting chicken? Only the delicious smell of the smoking process, probably.

The good news is you can easily smoke a chicken (yes, a whole chicken) by putting it inside an electric smoker.

As the title goes,  it's fast with no fuss. And we'll share some tips and tricks so you can achieve the perfect smoked chicken recipe and wow everyone at your next BBQ party!

What You Need

Of course, the main key to a delicious smoked chicken is the ingredients.

Here’s a list of suggestions, but keep in mind you don’t need to have everything:

  • 1 whole chicken 
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. of spice rub(additional top: you can also check out a BBQ rub recipe online)
  • Spices (chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, brown sugar)
whole chicken

For your electric smoker, you’d also want to prepare either of these two for your smoke:

  • Applewood
  • Wood chips

We have more suggestions in the "tips section" below!

How to Smoke a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker in 3 Steps

Prep Time: 15 - 20 mins| Cook Time: 3 - 4 hours| Calories: 312 | Serves: 5 - 6 people

We've simplified the process for you, remember the3S, and you're good to go!

But of course, Step 0 is to wash your chicken with cold water and prepare it first before placing it inside the electric smoker.

Step 0: Spatchcock the Chicken

Spatchcock basically means removing the backbone of the whole chicken. This makes the chicken lay flat, so it's easier to cook, and the meat will be wonderfully smoked!

Here's how you remove the backbone:

  1. With a sharp knife, cut from the side of the backbone down to the tail. Do it on both sides.
  2. Spread out the bird until you can see the breast bone.
  3. Cut out the chicken breast bone and lay it completely flat.

Step 1: Season the Chicken

After you've prepared your chicken, choose the spices, olive oil, juice, or wine liquids[1]you want to mix in your chicken.

Season the Chicken

Soak the chicken with your liquids to be absorbed into the meat, and thenpat it dry.

It's important to keep it dry so you can season it with spices properly, and because a wet and raw chicken bird won't be properly smoked.

Once dry, apply your rub and season the chicken properly. Make sure to rub it into all parts and even in the cavity. The last thing you want is a chicken that's full of rub flavor on one side but bland on the other.

Done? Then you're ready for the next step!

Step 2: Smoke and Cook

Set the temperature of your electric smoker to 250°F, then place the chicken inside with the skin side facing up.

You can use a probe thermometer to check your electric smoker's internal temperature and know if your chicken is already cooked on the inside.

Smoke and Cook

The total time spent smoking chicken is around30 mins. to 4 hours, depending on the size of your chicken.

Make sure to check on it from time to time to see how it's holding up and check on the internal temperature. Adjust accordingly if needed.

How Do I Know It's Done?

You can consider it done when it reaches165°F. After about two hours, flip your chicken so you can cook the top part as well.

There's no standard rule when it comes to the duration, so it's important tokeep an eye on your chicken while it's inside the smoker.

When you think the smoked chicken is almost cooked,add in your sauces (i.e., barbecue sauce) to enhance the flavor even more.

MUST-READ: Let it sit for about 10-20 mins.  This is to allow the smoked chicken to absorb everything you added in.

Step 3: Serve!

After hours of staring at your electric smoker, voila! Your smoked chicken (with BBQ flavor, if you will) is ready to serve.


Additional Tips for Smoking a Whole Chicken in an Electric Smoker

Here are some tips to help you achieve that tender meat and mouthwatering smokey flavor for an even better-tasting smoking chicken.

Choose the Wood Chips That Complements Your Bird

Preparingwood chips for your electric smoker will enhance the flavor of your whole chicken even more.

But there are different types of wood chips, and it helps to choose the right one for your chicken recipe.


Hickory is a kind of hardwood that produces a strong but sweet smell of smoke. To have an idea of how it is, think of smoking hot bacon!

It's the best for hot and slow smoking, and it's more used on smaller chickens. Most parts of meat will absorb this BBQ smoke well.

But note that too much Hickory might produce a bitter taste, so always follow the duration given in the recipe, and don't forget to check on it now and then.

Maple Wood

Hickory wood smoke can be a little too strong for some.

If you want a more subtle flavor but still retaining the sweet smoking taste, go for maple. As they say, it's the sweetest of the heavy woods.


Maybe a mild and fruity taste will suit those who want to push the "sweet" smoking taste more. Applewood smoke gives off exactly this.

Although, take note that this type of wood takes several hours to permeate the meat.


If you're looking for the southern taste, the Peachwood might pique your interest. It has that light, sweet flavor that's not too strong like Hickory.

Keep in mind it takes a relatively long time for the Peachwood to burn, and it loses flavor quickly after being cut.

Prepare well and use them quickly to avoid losing the Peachwood smoking that you want.

Cherry Wood

And last but not least, the mildest of them all would be the Cherry wood.

The mildness and sweetness of it match well with the stronger hickory wood. Consider mixing the two for that mouthwatering type of BBQ smoke, and thank us later!

Final Advice

Of course, this and other recipes of the like are only a guide for you to follow.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to gauge the right temperature and estimate the right number of hours for the best smoked chicken of your preference.

There's more to learn about cooking and grilling—see our guides below!

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