Poultry-Chicken Smoking Times and Temperature

Chicken Smoking Times and Temperatures

I wanted to put some information together about smoking chicken as I personally think chicken is underrated and is often overlooked in favour of the more popular cuts such as brisket, pork ribs and pulled pork. Anytime someone buys a new spit roaster or charcoal 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¬∞c degrees. If you're just starting out you could cheat a little and use a gas smoker and get the smokey flavour by adding smoker wood chips, but I use charcoal and wood chunks in what is commonly referred to as an offset smoker or a stick burner. Cold smoking is typically used for fish, cheese, nuts etc and is performed using a cold smoker or a fish smoker

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¬∞c degrees is the magic number you're going for.  To assist with monitoring the temperature we highly recommend a wireless BBQ thermometer where you can check your smoker and meat temperature remotely.

 

  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

 

Tips: 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.

 

Tips: Whole Chicken

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

 

Tips: 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. You'll get nice crispy skin by removing the excess fat, putting tiny holes in the skin, and cooking at higher-than-normal smoking temperatures. If you're finding it hard to get nice crispy skin, a hack way of doing it is to put a grill in the firebox and then grill the chicken thigh for a couple of minutes after it's cooked. If you don't scrape the fat out of the chicken thigh then you can smoke the thighs up to an internal temp of 91°c, at this temperature the fat will render out and the meat will come out moist and dripping. 

 

 

This is a picture of the Smoking recipe Book banner that links to a page where you can download the free recipe book for smoking meat

 

How to measure the temperature?

To check the temperature, you should probably 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 does the meat have
  • How hot/cold it is outside and how well-insulated the smoker is 
  • The type of smoker ( check out our smoker selection guide to help you choose the best smoker for you)
  • The type of charcoal, as well as the type of wood you use, affects the heat and the flavour of the meat.

Check out our recipe on how to cook smoked lollipop chicken.

 

 

 

 

by: Rhiannon Peterson