I have been falling back in love with my 18 inch Weber Smokey Mountain cooker and one of the reasons is how easy it is to cook an amazing smoked chicken.
Here is my recipe for smoked spatchcock chicken in the WSM.
Prepare the Chicken for the Smoker
Prepping the chicken is a three part process that includes:
- Dusting with Dry Rub
Spatchcock the Bird
Start by “spatchcocking” the chicken. This requires cutting out the backbone and flattening the breast.
The process sounds complicated but is really easy.
Here is a great video that shows you how to spatchcock a bird in under three minutes.
By flattening the bird we are going to both speed up the cooking process and make sure the bird cooks evenly.
Injecting the Bird
Next we are going to introduce some moisture into the bird so it stays juicy. You can either brine the bird for four hours or use a poultry injection.
I was short on time so I injected the chicken with Tony’s Creole Butter Injection. This is a commercial injection that works great and comes with a disposable syringe. If your store does not carry this product then here is an excellent chicken injection recipe from Extraordinary BBQ.
When you inject the bird you need to be aggressive and get as much liquid into it as possible. Inject the breasts, thighs, legs and even the wings. You will be surprised at how much of the injection the chicken will hold. For a five pound chicken aim for at least 1 cup of injection and preferably 2 cups.
Apply the Dry Rub
It turns out that the dry rub is the least important aspect of this technique. I have smoked more whole chickens than I can remember and every single one of them came out with a dry, leathery skin that was not very nice to eat.
You can solve the tough skin problem on smoked chicken if you cook it in a butter bath but that just isn’t a practical method when you are working with a whole bird.
Anyhow…I am compulsive and can’t imagine smoking a piece of meat without a dry rub so I dusted both side of the bird with the following:
Dry Rub for Smoked Chicken
- 2 tbls salt
- 2 tbls smoked paprika
- 1 tbls black pepper
- 1 tbls sugar
Prepare the Smoker for Cooking
I got my 18 inch Weber Smokey Mountain out of the garage and gave it a quick wipe down.
I wrapped the water pan in aluminum foil for easy clean up and did not use any liquids in the pan.
The charcoal ring was filled with B&B charcoal briquettes that I lit on one side with a piece of fatwood starter.
The bottom air vents were set to about 30% open and the top vent was left 100% open.
This setup had the smoker running at around 250F.
Place the chicken on the top grate, throw a handful of hickory chips onto the coals and you are ready to Rock and Roll!
Cook the Bird!
At this point you just need to sit back and let the fire and smoke work their magic.
Do You Flip a Spatchcock Chicken?
I do not flip spatchcock chicken. I cook the bird skin side up for the whole cook and do not flip the bird.
I like keeping the bird bone side down to protect the breast meat from overcooking. There is no benefit to flipping the bird over as the skin will not get tender or crispy.
How Long Do You Smoke a Chicken at 250F?
You should plan on smoking the chicken for 2.5 to 3 hours at 250F. If you want something faster then check out this one hour recipe for a Traeger Spatchcock Chicken cooked at 375F.
Of course, every bird and every cooker is a little different so always use a digital thermometer to measure doneness.
You are aiming for an internal temperature of 165F in the breast and about 180F in the thighs and legs.
Carve and Serve
After three hours this chicken was done and ready to eat!
I like to carve off the leg quarters and wings by themselves and slice the breasts.
The injection made the chicken incredibly moist and flavorful and the kiss of smoke from the hickory made the bird perfect.
Smoked Spatchcock Chicken
- 1 whole chicken about 5 lbs
- 2 cups Poultry Injection Tony's Creole Butter
- 2 tbsp salt Dry Rub
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika Dry Rub
- 1 tbsp black pepper Dry Rub
- 1 tbsp sugar Dry Rub
- Spatchcock the chicken by removing the backbone and flattening the breast.
- Inject the bird in the breast, thighs, legs and wings with as much of the poultry injection as possible.
- Combine the dry rub ingredients and sprinkle of the skin of the chicken.
- Set your smoker to 250F using hickory for smoke.
- Place the bird on the smoker, skin side UP.
- Smoke the chicken for 2.5 to 3 hours until the breast has an internal temperature of 165F and the thighs are at 180F.