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Smoked Chicken Advice

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    Smoked Chicken Advice

    I've been searching off and on this week for some basic chicken advice - suggestions for smoking a couple of whole chickens. The Pit is almost overwhelming. (obviously I'm a greenhorn) Last week I cooked some awesome ribs on my new PBC and this weekend I'd like to do a couple of birds.
    My new PBC is a hot rod as experienced last weekend and I don't want to burn these things up. I'd just like to learn how you folks do it and follow along. Time, temps, rubs/seasonings, using probes, etc. Thanks, everyone.

    Chickens do well at higher temps so the PBC is ideal to use for this. Especially since you are new to the PBC, I would follow the PBC directions for preparing the chickens as to cutting them into halves and hanging them with a hook through the breast. Follow @meathead's recipe and directions for the dry brine and use his Simon and Garfunkel rub recipe as well. Brine maybe 6 hours or you can do overnight.

    When you are ready to cook, I would suggest a mustard binder (it will not taste like mustard at all when cooked) which will help keep the rub on the chicken. Use the S&G rub I mentioned above. Be sure to pull some of the skin back and slide the rub under the skin as well as on top of it. Now don't pull the skin completely back or your chicken half will not stay together! If this happens, put a hook through the other quarter as well so it will not fall into the fire.

    Your cook will take about an hour, possibly a little longer. Pull them when internal temp is 160F. Carry over cooking will take them to between 165F-170F. Enjoy!


    • shify
      shify commented
      Editing a comment
      Good tips. I like the crack the lid at the end to bump up temps to get as crispy a skin as possible. Just offset it by half an inch or put a big stick under the lid to prop it up once the temps pass 100. I also like to pull when the breasts are at 150 and thighs at least 165.


    The PBC is a chicken cooking machine. Hot and fast is the way to go. As mention above monitor the chicken temps closely. Over cooked chicken is dry and nasty. Check out the poultry channel here for ideas for a rub but most importantly brine them. There is also techniques on how to get crispy skin. Most here do not wet brine anymore. To find out which way you like maybe do one wet and one dry.
    Last edited by lostclusters; September 4, 2020, 08:57 AM.


    • N227GB
      N227GB commented
      Editing a comment
      Yup! I like to dry brine using commercial steam table trays with grates in the bottom.

    Cut the chickens in half by removing the spine.

    I like to put rub between the skin and the meat.

    I just did a couple birds while in visiting my folks on the old man's WSM 22.
    Good. But not as good as my PBC 3.0 😉


    • Alabama Smoke
      Alabama Smoke commented
      Editing a comment
      Totally agree BFlynn. Oh, while I have you, I posted a few questions earlier today regarding smoked pork butt, which I have not done in a while. I would count it a favor if you would find it in "recent posts" and give me your thoughts! Thanks in advance! Tom

    • EdF
      EdF commented
      Editing a comment
      I find that rubbing some oil between the skin and the meat will help crisp it up. But I'd skip the herbs under the skin because moisture coming out of them will counteract the effect of the oil.

    Cut chickens in half
    Dry brine overnight with kosher salt 12-24 hours (less is also fine if you are pressed on time) uncovered in refrigerator
    Prep your PBC (I like to use lump charcoal and a chunk of hickory or pecan personally)
    Sprinkle chicken halves with course black pepper and hang ‘em
    I usually open the vent on the bottom a little to let more air in so it gets hotter. If you are cooking only two chicken halves, then just use one rebar and position it diagonally through opposite holes. That’ll leave two holes open, meaning even higher temps
    While the birds are cooking, make some white BBQ sauce
    When the birds are done, coat them liberally with the white sauce, then go slap your momma.


      Check out this sticky fzxdoc created. This should give you everything you need to know. She did a fantastic job putting this together specifically for the PBC. She's the resident PBC expert.

      You definitely want high heat for crispy skin. 325+
      Last edited by Rod; September 4, 2020, 04:39 PM.


        To my family's taste buds, there's nothing like chicken on the PBC. I've smoked chicken on my WSCGC in both kamado and kettle/SnS modes, and I still go right back to the trusty PBC . Chicken on the PBC is a marriage made in heaven.

        Here's my method:

        Chicken on the PBC: How to get juicy chicken with crispy skin

        First, about salt: if my rub contains salt then I don't add any extra salt. Ever. I use the salt-containing rub as a dry brine.

        Even though it contains a lot of salt, I love PBC's AP rub with chicken and use it as a dry brine. I never add more salt. I smoke chickens once every two weeks, on average, and they're always done in an hour or so and the skin is crispy.

        Chicken prep:
        1. Slice the chicken in half the way Noah shows on his chicken video on the PBC website.
        2. Separate the skin from the muscle underneath on the breast, thigh, and leg.
        3. Sprinkle AP rub all over that exposed muscle and rub/pat to get it to stick.
        4. Smooth the skin back into place and sprinkle the skin with a mixture of one Tablespoon of rub and a teaspoon of baking powder.The baking powder helps to dry the skin.
        5. Set the chicken on a rack in a tray, uncovered, positioned with the maximum amount of skin exposed, in the refrigerator for 24 hours. This helps to dry the skin.
        6. When it comes time to smoke the chicken, sprinkle it lightly with sweet paprika. This helps give it a pretty color
        7. Hook and hang the chicken in the PBC once it has gone through the 15-10-10 lighting procedure (or whatever works for you) outlined in the first post of this topic. I let the PBC temp get over 400 before hanging the chicken. The PBC temp drops quickly when this cold meat mass is introduced, then climbs back up.
        1. Keep the PBC temperature up between 325 and 360. Usually I keep it around 350 or so. I do this by judiciously cracking the lid for short periods of time and by pulling a rebar if I'm only doing one chicken.
        2. Check the chicken temp and pull it when the breast reads 160. The carryover cooking will bring it to the safe 165. At this temperature, the legs and thighs are done as well.
        3. Let the chicken rest for a little bit before slicing. Otherwise, because the meat is so juicy and tender, the bone sometimes pulls right out of the leg when you try to eat it!
        Other Notes:
        I like slicing the chicken in half in the prep phase because I can get 3 chickens in the PBC that way, or 2 chickens and 2 hanging sausage holders filled with sausages. (Those sausages add a flavor bomb to the chicken, at least to our taste buds.)

        The chicken easier to carve if I remove the breast bone after slicing the bird in two in the prep stage. Then during carving, breast section easily pulls away from the rib cage so I can slice it crosswise.

        I don't use any oil on or under the skin for two reasons: first, Meathead now says that it doesn't do much, flavorwise, for oil-soluble spices, and second, for me at least, oil prevents the chicken skin from crisping. I get crisper skin without it. Lots of folks use oil, though, so try for yourself and see what works best.

        If you're smoking only one chicken, use only one rebar and run it diagonally. This gives you more room for the meat, and the open holes help keep the PBC temperaure in the desired 325°-375° range. The chicken should be done in an hour or so.

        For high temp poultry cooks where I need both rebars for hanging the meat, I have switched out the rebars for thin stainless steel rods. This leaves a lot more air space in the rebar holes and helps keep the temps up. Here's my post on that method:


        Last edited by fzxdoc; September 5, 2020, 06:26 AM.


        • BFlynn
          BFlynn commented
          Editing a comment
          I do believe that fzxdoc is the reigning chicken champion. would definitely follow this advice.

        I'm not having a good feeling about my cook later today. Yall will laugh but these are my thoughts this morning. Yesterday afternoon late I bought the chicken, washed it, and patted dry. Then I cut the thing in half and removed the backbone. Next, I coated it on all sides liberally with medium grind sea salt and placed it in the fridge. I also put the salt on the exposed meat. (this part worries me) This morning I checked in on the bird and it's still got the salt all over it. I had expected to see it dissolved I suppose. I didn't lift the skin and put any salt under it. I bought a cheap seasoning/rub (go ahead and laugh) McCormick Grill-Mates Montreal Chicken Seasoning and will rub/sprinkle if all over prior to hanging the chicken. Before hanging - should I brush off the excess salt?
        At this time I'm expecting to see the salt all over the bird prior to me putting on the seasoning later today. I'm worried it's going to be a salt bomb. This seasoning I'm using lists salt as the 3rd ingredient so I guess not adding that much more salt.
        I'm not too worried about obtaining high temps with my PBC as it's new and last weekend it ran pretty hot when doing my ribs.
        I've taken Kathryn's post above and printed it out for future use. My short time here and being a new member it seems Kathryn is a PBC expert and has a ton of experience and advice. I'm taking it too. Wish I had seen this post by her sooner.
        Oh well, live and learn. I'll let yall know how this thing turns out. XX


        • pkadare
          pkadare commented
          Editing a comment
          You should read the article on dry brining on the free side of the site. Especially when it comes to salts, you need to at least start with the recommended quantity and type of salt. For most kosher salts that is going to be about 1/2 tsp/lb of protein. "Coated it on all sides liberally" sounds to me like far too much salt.

        Not sure what "coated" the chicken means but that sounds like a lot! Using Morton's Kocher salt I sprinkle it on both sides lightly. There is at least as much unsalted space on the surface as there is salt and probably more unsalted space. It soaks in and pulls moisture up into the salt, then pulls the salted moisture back down into the meat for the completed brine. Without a picture I am guessing, but you have already brined over night. I think I would take it and wipe off any excess salt and at least consider and probably would gently wash the surface off. The brine is already complete. You don't need any more. Then wipe it try, apply the mustard binder and coat it with the Memphis Dust. As to salt, remember you can always add more to taste but once its applied, removal is only partially possible..

        Remember, before most of us made really good, possibly great BBQ, we made a lot of bad BBQ! If its not good, then you learned. Use the experience to make it better next time. Tom
        Last edited by Alabama Smoke; September 5, 2020, 10:12 AM.


          If you’re concerned that it may be too salty already, do not add a rub containing any salt. If you have no salt free rubs black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder will work just fine. A little paprika and dried herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, and oregano, would be nice as well.


            Originally posted by Alabama Smoke View Post
            Not sure what "coated" the chicken means but that sounds like a lot! Using Morton's Kocher salt I sprinkle it on both sides lightly. There is at least as much unsalted space on the surface as there is salt and probably more unsalted space. It soaks in and pulls moisture up into the salt, then pulls the salted moisture back down into the meat for the completed brine. Without a picture, I am guessing, but you have already brined over night. I think I would take it and wipe off any excess salt and at least consider and probably would gently wash the surface off. The brine is already complete. You don't need anymore. Then wipe it try, apply the mustard binder and coat it with the Memphis Dust. As to salt, remember you can always add more to taste but once its applied, removal is only partially possible..

            Remember, before most of us made really good, possibly great BBQ, we made a lot of bad BBQ! If its not good, then you learned. Use the experience to make it better next time. Tom
            The chicken wasn't exactly coated but not exactly light either I suppose. I did go take a closer look right now and decided to take your advice Alabama Smoke and rinse off the bird. There was also a noticeable about of liquid in the glass dish the chicken is in so I dumbed it out too. Good grief... I'm acting as I've never touched a grill of any kind before. LOL Screw it.. I'm going to season it up later with what I have and see how things work out. Might be good and might not be. Either way, I'll learn.


              I'm with Red Man on this on not adding a rub that contains salt. Or if you decide to go with the Montreal seasoning, just coat it lightly. You've already got your salt antennae twitching over this, so I think you'll be just fine. Chicken can take more salt than most other meats in my experience.

              Enjoy that cook today.



                I always dry brine my chickens with kosher salt, and half the time I apply a rub or two that also contain salt before hanging in the PBC...chicken still turns out great.

                I think your chicken will land somewhere between good to delicious!


                  Well, this rookie chicken cook/smoke is in the books and lessons learned.

                  Rookie mistakes made also. But, like i've read - the PBC does seem to be a chicken cooking machine. I tried the dry brining technique which might have been ok if I'd had left it there. But then before cooking I also used a seasoning/rub with more salt. As y'all might guess, the end result was rather salty. (damn Barker what did you expect?) I went ahead and polished off about half the bird but the rest I ditched. Lesson learned and as some suggested I shouldn't have used any seasoning with still more salt. The chicken was nice and moist and the appearance was good. Skin wasn't exactly what I'd call crisp and would slide right off. Overall just too saltly! Ugh.

                  This time I learned a little about adjusting the temp of my PBC. I decided to use less than a full basket of charcoal since I was only cooking one bird. I estimate about 3/4 basket and that was still more than plenty it seemed. I closed the damper some from the recommended opening which at my elevation should be 1/2 open. During the first hour the PBC wouldn't get up to more than about ~260. The chicken looked about half done at that time. During the final 30 minutes I cracked the lid slightly and temps jumped quickly to ~415! I had also opened the damper back to the half open setting. I got concerned and moved the lid to just barely cracked and temps came down quickly to around 350 where I fininshed the chicken off after the internal temp reached 160-165. I was a little surprised how such a small adjustment to air flow effected the PBC temps. But it was easy to control up or down I thought.

                  Interesting things and a blooper: I decided to start the chimney outside of the PBC this time as I felt last week it took a little long to ash over/fully light. So, I found an unused floor tile and placed the chimney on that instead of directly on the concrete patio. After about 10-12 minutes I heard a "Crack - pop!" as the tile shattered into pieces. I guess it wasn't fire proof. LOL But the chimney did reach a full burn much quicker. When I hung the chickend one of the halves fell off the hook onto the coals. Ouch! LOL
                  So I just grabbed it right quick and rehung. Has this ever happened to anyone? Ever? Don't answer.

                  I'm anxious to try a small brisket but I think I'll wait a few more weeks or so to read the Pit and learn more about my PBC from some of you experts here.


                  • Alabama Smoke
                    Alabama Smoke commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Next time you light your chimney, put the grate on the PBC and place the chimney on the grate. Yes tile will crack.....guess what...so will concrete if hot enough. Just ask a few folks around here! Well you learned! Next time will get it done right I suspect, so congratulations! Tom

                  Alabama Smoke The first time I fired my chimney I did exactly what you suggest. I just thought it didn't get enough air movement and look longer than it should. That's why I moved it outside the barrel. Yeah, the cheap tile was a fail for sure. Next time I'll use something more substantial but still outside the barrel. We'll see.



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