Chicken Smoking Times and Temperatures

I wanted to put some information together about smoking chicken as I personally think chicken is underrated is often overlooked in favour of the more popular cuts such as brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork. Anytime someone buys a new spit or smoker, the first thing I tell them to cook is a chicken. It is the cheapest and easiest cut of meat to start out cooking and it's delicious too! Grab your thermometer, chicken and smoker and you're good to go. 

Before we get started though, I just wanted to go right back to basics, especially if you've never smoked anything before. There are two types of smoking, cold smoking and hot smoking. To be clear, what I'm talking about here is hot smoking, where the temperature of the smoker is at least 100 degrees. If you're just starting out you could cheat a little and use a gas smoker and get the smokey flavour by adding wood chips, but I personally use charcoal and wood in what is commonly referred to as an offset smoker or a stick burner. Cold smoking is typically used for fish, cheese, nuts etc. 

Once you're all set up, the key is to keep an eye on your smoker temperature as well as the internal temperature of the chicken. The last thing you want is to give your family food poisoning due to undercooked chicken. 75 degrees is the magic number you're going for.  

 

  Time Smoking Temp Finished Temp
Whole Chicken 2 - 3 hrs 135 - 160 C or 275 - 325 °F 75 C or 170 °F
Chicken Thighs 1.5 hrs 135 - 160 C or 275 - 325 °F 75 C or 170 °F
Chicken Wings 1 - 1.5 hrs 135 - 160 C or 275 - 325 °F 75 C or 170 °F
Whole Turkey 4 - 5 hrs 135 - 160 C or 275 - 325 °F 75 C or 170 °F

 

Smoking Turkey WingsTips: Whole turkey


The smoking turkey time is usually around 4 – 5 hours at a constant smoking temperature of 275 – 325 °F. I personally prefer to smoke turkey flappers rather than a whole turkey. They are like giant chicken wings, only better

 

Smoking - Raw chickens in an Offset SmokerTips: Whole Chicken

The smoking time of whole chicken is about 2-3 hours. While you are still aiming for low and slow, chicken is cooking at higher temperatures than other cuts of meat so that you get a crispy skin. If you find that your chicken turns out a little dry, you could always try brining or injecting. 

 

Chicken thighs inside offset smokerTips: Chicken Thighs

Use a cupcake baking in to press the thighs into perfect shapes. If you leave the bone in, the bone becomes just like little handles for you to hold. Scrape the back of the skin to remove excess fat. Then use a meat tenderiser to stab the skin. By removing the excess fat, putting tiny holes in the skin and cooking at higher than normal smoking temperatures, you'll get a nice crispy skin. If you're finding it hard to get nice crispy skin, a hacks way of doing it is to put a grill over the fire box and then grill the chicken thigh for a couple of minutes after its cooked. 

 

How to measure the temperature?

To check the temperature, you should probably have to buy a good digital meat thermometer.  We recommend the EZTemp thermometer. It has 2 probes which allow you to stab one into the chicken and the other at grill level on your smoker. The beauty of this thermometer is that you can set minimum and maximum alarms so that you get a reminder when the temperature of your smoker falls/spikes and also when your meat is ready. While gauges on smokers give you a guesstimate" of the ambient temperature inside your smoker, a digital thermometer. is more accurate. 

Remember, this is just a general guide. Other factors can affect how your meat is cooked in the smoker, such as:

  • The thickness of the meat
  • Whether the meat has been deboned
  • How much fat the meat has
  • How hot/cold it is outside and how well insulated the smoker is 
  • The type of smoker ( Click here to help you choose the best smoker for you)
  • Using wood charcoal, as well as the type of wood you use, affects the flavour of the meat.
  • Whether the meat was brought up to room temperature or not

To see some delicious recipes, Click here. To see how to cook smoked lollipop chicken, click here.

Want to get hands-on experience on how to prepare awesome BBQ from experienced pitmasters? Check out the dates for our upcoming BBQ Masterclasses and in-store demo's in our Sydney and Melbourne stores.

 

 Rhiannon Peterson   By: Rhiannon Peterson

 

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