If you want to make a delicious and easy meal to feed a crowd, try whole smoked chicken. It's a great way to add a unique and smoky flavor that everyone will enjoy. Once the chicken hits the smoker, there is no need to keep checking on it. Just let it smoke and take in those flavors until it's juicy, tender, and ready to serve.
I used my Traeger Ironwood 885 to prepare this recipe. In my opinion, the Ironwood series offers the best value among Traeger pellet smokers. Its combination of features, function, and price make it an excellent choice for those who want to become part of the Traeger Hood.
Why should you try this recipe
- Stress-free: When someone asks me which food is the easiest to smoke on a Traeger pellet smoker, I always recommend chicken. It's also one of the more forgiving meats to smoke. Simply set the smoker temperature, keep an eye on the internal temperature, and savor the mouthwatering, juicy outcome when it reaches 165º.
- Moist and tasty: Getting perfectly cooked chicken on a Traeger grill is a breeze with the convection style of cooking. The continuous flow of fresh, tasty smoke and the removal of old smoke, helps maintain a consistent temperature of +/- 5º throughout the smoker and achieve consistent, mouth-watering results every time. So rest assured, you can confidently serve up juicy, flavorful chicken to your guests with your Traeger grill.
- Versatile: Preparing a whole smoked chicken can lead to many delicious outcomes, either immediately after smoking it or reheating it the next day. In the following recipe, we will separate the smoked chicken into its traditional parts such as breast, thighs, legs, and wings. However, if you prefer, you can also shred the cooked bird and use it for taco meat or any other dish you like.
Ingredients for Whole Smoked Chicken
- 2 ½ lb Whole Chicken: A slight yellow tint is normal, and variations in color are typically due to breed, exercise, age, or diet. For maximum tenderness and juiciness, it is recommended to choose several smaller chickens instead of a single larger one.
- 3 tablespoon Smoked Q Rock’s Summer BBQ Rub: This rub provides that classic “barbecue” flavor, while adding a deep smoky flavor brough on by the addition of molasses.
- 1 whole Lemon: Find a lemon with bright yellow skin, with no wrinkling. Squeeze them to find one that is firm, but not hard.
- 1 whole sweet onion: There are many onions to choose from, but the sweet onion provides a mildness due to lower sulfur content and high water concentration as compared to other selections.
- 1 bulb garlic: One bulb of garlic contains 10 to 12 cloves. These cloves need to be removed and peeled, prior to use.
- 1 Gala apple: Gala apples have a sweet, grainy texture and a milder flavor. When smoked in the cavity, their thin skin allows for the release of their delicious sweet juices.
Instructions for making Whole Smoked Chicken
1. Bring smoker to temp: As I began preparing the bird, I turned on my Traeger Ironwood 885 to 250º F for 15 minutes until it reached the desired temperature.
2. Prep to fill the cavity: I then cut the lemon into wedges, cut the onion into large chunks, peeled the garlic cloves and sliced the apple into wedges, setting them all aside.
3. Apply rub and fill cavity: I then took these prepped items and used them to stuff the cavity of the chicken. Then with butcher twine I tied up the legs to hold all the stuffing inside.
4. Smoke: I then smoked these whole chickens at 250º for 3 hours and 45 minutes until internal temperature of the breast read 165º and the thigh read 175º.
5. Rest and break down chicken to serve: After letting the whole smoked chickens rest for 15 minutes, I started by taking off the wings, then the legs. Next, I removed both breasts, and finally, the thighs. This provides different options for everyone, including white meat from the breast and dark meat from the thighs and legs.
Variations and Substitutions:
Alternate Rubs: Similar to pork, sweet rubs are a great choice. Some alternatives could include Meat Church Honey Hog, Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub, and Hardcore Carnivore Red. But if you are looking to use pantry spices, try a simple BBQ Rub by mixing together:
- 8 parts brown sugar
- 8 part paprika
- 1 part garlic
- 1 part salt
- 1 part black pepper
- 1 part chili powder
Cavity fillings: In this recipe we’ve used lemon, onion, garlic and apples to fill the cavity. But in reality, there are many things that can be used so start by checking your fridge or pantry to see what you have. Some other options include celery, potatoes, pears, peppers, and oranges to name a few.
Tips and tricks for making this Whole Smoked Chicken
Stuff the cavity: The purpose of stuffing the cavity of a chicken is to occupy the empty space and prevent warm air from quickly drying out the internal meat. As mentioned earlier, various food items can be used as cavity fillers, although their main function is to assist in the cooking process rather than to add flavor or be eaten after cooking.
Crispy Skin: For those looking for a crispy skin on their whole smoked chickens, an optional step is to increase the smoker temperature to 375º for the last 10 degrees of cooking time. Once the breast reaches 150º, you can turn up the temperature of the smoker to 375º to achieve the desired results.
Pull apart for later service: One of our favorite ways to utilize Whole Smoked Chicken is by using it as leftovers for tacos and nachos the next day. To do this, you just need to pull apart the meat into shreds and when you're ready to reheat it, add some taco seasoning and serve it as tacos or nachos.
Whole Smoked Chicken
- 1 Traeger Ironwood 885
- 1 Spool butchers twine
- 1 whole Chicken (approx. 5 lbs)
- 3 tablespoon Rock's Summer BBQ Rub
- 1 whole Lemon
- 1 whole Sweet Onion
- 1 Bulb Garlic
- 1 Whole Gala Apple
- Turn on the Traeger Ironwood 885 to 250º F for 15 minutes until it reaches the desired temperature.
- Then cut the lemon into wedges, cut the onion into large chunks, peel the garlic cloves and slice the apple into wedges, setting them all aside.
- Next use these prepped items to stuff the cavity of the chicken. Then with butcher twine tie up the legs to hold all the stuffing inside.
- Smoke these whole chickens at 250º for 3 hours and 45 minutes until the internal temperature of the breast read 165º and the thigh reads 175º
- After letting the whole smoked chickens rest for 15 minutes, begin by taking off the wings and then the legs. Next, remove both breasts and, finally, the thighs. This provides different options for everyone, including white meat from the breast and dark meat from the thighs and legs.