Pack in the flavor and smoke a whole chicken with very little active time required.
Cooking a whole smoked chicken on the Traeger is a great way to get a tasty dinner on the table without a lot of fuss. We are going to seal in the flavor with a dry rub and cook a juicy chicken dinner.
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The ingredients couldn't be any easier. All we need is a whole chicken, a good spice blend or rub, and some butter. I found this Traeger rub at Costco. It's versatile enough to use on beef, chicken, or pork.
The preparation and dry brine is really what makes this whole smoked chicken recipe so good. Set up your work station close to your kitchen sink. You'll need:
- large cutting board
- sharp knife
- sheet pan with wire rack
- kitchen string
- food safe gloves (optional but recommended because raw chicken is a lot to handle)
Not pictured is the Traeger Grill. I love my Traeger and I use it several times a week. Read more on that below. If you don't have a Traeger, you can use an alternate smoker or oven.
Now that you have your supplies and ingredients ready, we can move on to the dry brine and get this bird prepped for deliciousness.
Whole Smoked Chicken Recipe
Whole Smoked Chicken Recipe
- 1 Traeger Grill
- 1 sheet pan with wire rack
- 1 large cutting board
- 1 sharp knife
- kitchen string
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 tablespoon Traeger Gill seasoning
- 3 tablespoon unsalted butter
Dry Brine the Chicken
- Line a sheet pan with paper towels and place wire rack inside. The paper towel is only meant to catch any liquid that drains off the chicken. We don't need chicken juice moving around on a sheet pan.
- Prepare the whole chicken by removing it from all packaging. Remove any pieces from inside the chicken such as the neck or extras if those are packaged inside.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Gently loosen the skin around the chicken breast, legs and thighs.
- Sprinkle seasoning under the skin and rub into the breast meat, legs, and thighs. Lightly sprinkle seasoning on the outside skin of the chicken.
- Tuck the wings behind the back. Pull the legs together and tie with the kitchen string. We will undo this when it's time to spread the butter, but this step helps the chicken hold together while it dry brines. Dry brining will firm up the whole chicken.
- Place the chicken on the sheet pan fitted with a wire rack. Put in the refrigerator, uncovered, overnight.
Smoking the Whole Chicken
- Remove the dry brined chicken from the refrigerator and leave on the counter to come to room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the Traeger Grill to 225F.
- Untie the legs. Spread room temperature unsalted butter underneath the skin and on the outside of the whole chicken. The skin will have dried quite a bit and that makes spreading butter over the meat easier.
- Tie the legs back together.
- Place the chicken on the rack in the center of the Traeger Grill. Close the lid. Cook at 225F for 3 hours.
- Increase the temperature to 325F and cook for an additional 30 minutes. This will allow the skin to get extra crispy and ensures doneness all the way through.
- Using an instant meat thermometer, take the temperature on the chicken breast. The chicken is fully cooked when the temperature of the breast meat reads 160-165F and the thighs read 180F.
- Remove the cooked chicken to a large cutting board. Cover the chicken with aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before cutting.
Did you make this recipe? Tag me on Instagram @fancy_apron 🙂
Grilled Pork Chops
These grilled pork chops are brined to infuse flavor and moisture. We finish them off with a sticky brown sugar and bourbon sauce. This is a simple and easy recipe to pull off. Approved for novice cooks. We'll be eating perfectly seasoned and well cooked pork chops tonight with a delicious, sticky, brown sugar and...
Why to Dry Brine a Whole Chicken
Dry brining is the process of seasoning meat and allowing it to rest. This can be done on just about any kind and cut of meat. It allows for the salt to penetrate several layers down rather than only seasoning the outside. The process goes like this:
- Season the meat and place on a wire rack so air can circulate all sides.
- Place in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours, uncovered.
- Remove from refrigerator and finish preparation for cooking.
During step #2, the salt will pull moisture from the meat, dissolve in the liquid that is pulled, and soak back into the meat.
Dry Brine Transformation
Check out the pictures below and notice what happened to the chicken after a day of dry brining.
The chicken flesh and skin has completely changed in color. The skin has become slightly translucent in several spots. The whole bird is also much drier and firmer than when we took it out of the packaging.
That extra dry exterior is going to easily crisp! Woohoo for crispy skin.
Cooking on the Traeger Grill
The reason I love cooking the whole chicken on the Traeger Grill is because of how low maintenance the process can be. The only steps are setting the temperature, getting the bird on the grill, and checking the final temperature of the chicken for doneness.
Any Traeger Grill will work for this recipe. Here is my amazon link for a medium sized Traeger Grill that will do all of the things you need from smoking to grilling. You'll also need some wood pellets.
Serving the Smoked Chicken
This chicken needs some tasty side dishes and maybe a good sauce. I love eating it with twice baked potatoes and creamed corn or classic iceberg salad with ranch dressing. That roasted poblano and bell pepper rice is also a personal favorite because of the sweet and spicy combo from the peppers and corn.
Frequently Asked Chicken
30-45 minutes per pound and until the internal temperature reaches 165F. Chicken should cook at 30 minutes per pound if dry brined for more than 12 hours.
To be effective, dry brine your chicken for at least 12 hours.
NO! Just make sure you season it to taste from the beginning.