Tips for Smoking Chicken in an Electric Smoker

Tips for Smoking Chicken in an Electric Smoker

If you love the taste of smoked chicken, but you’re just starting out, try smoking chicken in an electric smoker. Electric smokers, like the Char-Broil® Digital Electric Smokers, make smoking meat easy without compromising a tender, tasty smoked chicken. These basic tips will help you smoke a chicken that you’re proud to share.


When smoking chicken, choose wood chips that will complement the bird. Pecan, mesquite, cherry and apple are all popular wood chip flavors.

  • Hickory is a hard wood that has a sweet to strong taste that is almost bacon-y It burns hot and slow. If you have a smaller chicken, be light with the hickory chips, as too much hickory on smaller meats can create a bitter flavor. It’s a nice wood that can be combined with cherry wood for a pleasant taste.
  • Maple is a subtle wood that has a milder flavor than hickory, but it also burns hot and slow. It is the sweetest of the heavy woods.
  • Apple wood is a mild and fruity wood that is ideal with chicken and other birds. Apple wood smoke takes several hours to permeate meat.
  • Peach wood has its southern roots, imparting a light, sweet flavor to smoked chicken. Peach wood burns hot and relatively long. Use fresh cut peach wood, as peach wood tends to lose flavor quickly after being cut.
  • Cherry wood has a mild, sweet flavor that burns relatively hot for a relatively long length of time. Cherry wood is great when combined with hickory.
While charcoal is great for smoking, without the use of wood chips charcoal can give your chicken a fiery taste with very little flavor. Be sure to include wood chips for that added bonus of flavor your bird deserves.



Remove the backbone of the bird. Use a sharp knife and cut about a half an inch from the side of the backbone all the way from the neck to the tail. Do the same to the other side of the backbone and remove it.


With the backbone removed, spread the chicken out.


Now, using a pairing knife gently, cut and remove the diamond-shaped breastbone so that the bird will lie flat.

HOT TIP: By cutting the chicken in half, you increase the surface area that can absorb the smoke, and you can manage more chickens on the grates.



Soak the bird in a mixture of one gallon of water and one cup of kosher salt.

HOT TIP: This salt will help breakdown the muscles and increase moisture absorption to the meat.


Add fruit juices, wines and spices to the brine; the meat will absorb the flavors.

Chicken is naturally a leaner meat, making it harder to smoke without compromising juiciness, tenderness and flavor. The key is brining the chicken before you smoke it.


Before you’re ready to put your chicken into the smoker, let it air dry for about 1 hour. The smoke will adhere better to the bird if the surface is fairly dry.




Insert the probe into the thickest part of your chicken, and set the digital thermometer to 165°F.

HOT TIP: When your chicken reaches 165°F, the smoker will stop cooking and turn on warm mode.


Set your smoker to 250°F. Cook time will vary based on the size of the bird, but we estimate about 30 to 45 minutes per pound.



A spice rub applied to the chicken before you smoke it can impart a deep flavor into the meat.


In your last minutes of smoking, apply your sauce. A sweet and spicy barbecue sauce applied during and after the smoking process can help develop an exterior bursting with flavor.

While your chicken is bound to taste great smoked with a simple brine, the right seasonings can add another level of flavor to your meal.
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