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Smoking Whole Chickens

Smoking Whole Chickens

Since Halloween was on a Saturday this year, the neighborhood had a lot more time to plan a party.  At this point, most neighbors have been down to check out the new bbq smoker.  She’s now less ugly, with her new University of South Florida (Go BULLS!) paint job.   My wife decided to fully embrace my sudden smoking obsession for this occasion and proceeded to invite several people in the neighborhood to bring over their whole chicken to throw on the smoker.  Not that I mind, I just haven’t done a full load test on her (the smoker) yet and I wasn’t exactly sure how much meat I could smoke at one time.

As the 4th chicken showed up, I started to get a little nervous since it was the size of a small turkey.  I had to check the label twice, yep, it’s actually a chicken.  At this point, the smoker is all fired up and hovering around 250 degrees so I mixed up the following rub for the chicken:

Ingredients

2 tablespoons Kosher salt

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon sage

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Directions

I then washed and rinsed the whole chickens, made sure I removed everything from the cavity (I have forgotten before) and then rubbed them down with the rub.  At this point, 2 more chickens joined the party, bringing the grand total to 6 chickens.  Yeah, I was pretty much planning to throw that last one on the grill at this point.

I was pleasantly surprised when I realized I DID have enough room for 6 whole chickens.  As you can see, without an inch to spare, she actually was able to handle all of the fowl.

Once I had all of the chickens arranged, I placed the lid on the smoker and opened the hole in the top.  To smoke a whole chicken, you want to be at around 250 degrees for about 4 hours.  The main thing to remember is that the internal temperature of the breast meat should reach around 170 degrees.  Check the temps after 3 hours using a meat thermometer.  You’ll know you are getting close to smoked chicken deliciousness when the skin gets nice and dark.  My chicken turned out awesome and was done at pretty close to the 4 hour mark.

Homemade Smoker

I had a little trouble maintaining a constant temperature while smoking the chickens.  I wasn’t off by much, but the temps were fluctuating from about 250 up to 300 degrees.  I may have been over compensating and closing down the top air hole too much when the temperature got too high.  I need to get this right or smoking a brisket all day is going to be a little more of an interactive process than I would like…

9 Responses

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Murman

11-06-2009

Closing down on the top vents can lead to stale smoke. More air, means more “burn”, leading to more heat. I leave one of my two conduit caps off and adjust my temp with the ball valve on the third conduit nipple, when I need more heat. Great Blog. Thx.

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Steve

11-06-2009

Good advice, thanks! I think I will leave the top wide open next time, like you mentioned, and try controlling the temps via the bottom holes.

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Spike

02-17-2012

I used my smoker for the first time. Very bitter after taste any suggestions? I used coal and apple wood. The wood is like 5 years old could this be the problem? Had to throw away the ribs couldn’t even eat them.

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Steve

02-17-2012

Hi Spike. That bitter aftertaste is most likely creosote. Creosote is residue that is created if the smoke can not escape the smoker. Some call it “stale smoke”. Poor ventilation is usually the cause. You want the smoke to rise through the meat and then exist via your exhaust on the top of the smoker. If it is allowed to remain in the smoker, it will create that oily substance that makes the meat bitter (and often leaves your tongue numb). Sorry you had a bad first experience with your smoker, but look through the manual and make sure you have good ventilation and try again. It takes some practice, but it will be worth it in the end!

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SPIKE

02-17-2012

HOW DO I GET BETTER VENTILATION I BUILT A UDS JUST LIKE THE ONE ON THE WEBSITE?

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Steve

02-17-2012

Sorry, didn’t realize you had built an UDS. I’ll send you an email with some questions. Once we get you smokin’ again, I’ll update these comments so people can see what worked to solve your bitter problem.

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Sam

09-17-2012

I have had an electric table top grill for many years, but have used it only 3 or 4 times in over 5 years. After reading all of these recipes about smoke grilling all this food it has made me hungry and now I am interested in trying this out. My question is would smoke grilling work using an electric grill, or is it just for a gas grills and regular charcoal grills. I am already excited about doing it even on this electric grill. Thank you.

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