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3.63 from 8 votes

Smoking Half Chicken

Smoked chicken is a delectable alternative to the standard oven baking routine, imparting a ton of flavor with minimal effort while drastically reducing the likelihood of overcooking if a few steps are taken. 

Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken, Smoking Half Chicken
Servings: 1
Calories: 315kcal


  • Charcoal smoker
  • Chunk charcoal
  • Wood chunks of chips (3:1 ratio of apple to hickory).
  • Large plastic bucket or freezer bag.
  • meat thermometer
  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic spray bottle


  • 5

    lbs Whole chicken

  • Kosher salt (1/2 cup per gallon plus 3 teaspoons).

  • Granulated brown sugar (3/4 cup per gallon).

  • Freshly ground black pepper (3 teaspoons).

  • Cayenne pepper (3 teaspoon).

  • Garlic powder (3 teaspoons).

  • Onion powder (2 teaspoon).

  • Mustard powder (2 teaspoon).

  • Dried thyme (2 teaspoon).

  • Apple juice, apple cider, or apple cider vinegar (1 to 2 cups).


  • Given that we're trying to make half a chicken, you'll need to have your whole chicken cut in half.

  • If you like, you can ask your butcher to do this for you, but if you want to do it yourself, simply use a tough pair of chicken sheers to cut along either side of the backbone.

  • When that's removed, simply cut straight through any meat, fat, or bone connecting the two halves to separate them.

  • Use this time to clean up any unsightly bits of fat hanging off your chicken, but make sure to reserve them plus the bones for making stock later.

  • Once your chicken halves are separated, move on to brining the bird. Place your chicken into the bucket or other large container of your choice and fill with water until the chicken is just submerged.

  • It should take around two to three gallons of water to do this.

  • Pour in the appropriate amounts of salt and sugar and stir everything together to dissolve the solids.

  • Additionally, make up your dry rub with the remaining ingredients and drop in two teaspoons of the mix into the brine.

  • Let the chicken brine like this in a cool area for six hours and up to overnight.

  • If you'd like, you could brine both halves of the chicken at the same time for two halves.

  • If so, double the brining liquid to fit both halves (you may need to make more dry rub to accommodate this).

  • About half an hour before you're ready to cook, begin preheating your smoker.

  • Thrown on your charcoal (choose the wood depending on the smoke flavor you want) and light it, closing the lid to allow the heat to build up (soak your wood chips in hot water at this time if you're using them).

  • Adjust the airflow to reach a temperature around 250 degrees to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Five minutes before show time, fill the water tank, toss the wood onto the fire, and place on the grate before closing the lid again to let steam and smoke build up.

  • After removing your chicken from the brine, discard the liquid and pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels.

  • Once dried, use the remaining dry rub to season the outside of the chicken.

  • Thoroughly work the bbq chicken rub onto the meat, patting them into all exposed areas possible.

  • Once seasoned, you're ready to smoke your bird.

  • Place chicken half onto the smoker grate skin side down, then close the lid.

  • Smoking the chicken will take around three to four hours. 

  • During this time, monitor the amount of charcoal, wood, and water left in the smoker, adding more as needed and adjusting air flow to keep the temperature range consistent.

  • Flip the chicken every hour for even cooking. 

  • Additionally, spray down the surface of the meat with apple juice or a similar liquid every half hour.

  • This will help the chicken to retain moisture and lightly flavor it.

  • Near the end of ​smoking time, if you notice the chicken skin is starting to become too done, wrap the outside of the chicken in aluminum foil to protect it from the heat.

  • Around this time, begin checking the chicken's temperature every fifteen minutes or so.

  • The goal is to reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit on the thickest part of the breast.

  • Once you've hit this point, you're done.


Serving: 100g | Calories: 315kcal