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Chicken skin not crisping up

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    Chicken skin not crisping up

    Hey everyone! I hope everyone is doing well. As the title says, I've had some issues where the skin on chicken wings and whole birds is coming out kinda chewy and not crispy. I've smoked them at 300 but had to finish them in the oven. What are some recommendations for getting crispy skin? Thanks!

    300 is too low. I usually do 375-400.


      I personally cook/smoke chicken in the 375-425 range and usually get crispy skin. When I did it at temps below this range I got exactly what you describe.


        Boy have you come to the right place. For chicken wings, a lot of people are gonna recommend a Vortex for your kettle. I’ve got one and they really help to get crispy wings. If you don’t know what it is, just ask and I’ll send a link. But one important part also is to dry your wings really good with paper towels. You need to remove as much moisture as possible from the skin. The moisture and low temps is what causes rubbery skin. Do them at 375-425.

        For whole chickens, also dry the chicken exterior and interior with paper towels. You can also dry brine them, which helps. Chickens are done best at a much higher heat than what you’re using. Most of us don’t “smoke” a chicken just because of that rubbery skin problem. You wanna do a whole chicken hot and fast. Usually at temps of 375-400.
        Last edited by Panhead John; July 15, 2021, 09:58 PM.


          Yup. Your temp is too low. You need to crank it up to 350 or higher in my experience if you want crispy skin. Personally, I gave up doing chicken on a smoker. I do it only on my kettle with vortex or if in a hurry, on my gasser at fairly high heat.


            Finishing smoked chicken pieces off over direct coals is also an option. Smoke at the temp you want and then subject the pieces to direct heat for a short time. That'll crisp up chicken skin too. I like to dip crisped up thighs in sauce, put them back on the smoker and let the sauce set for about ten minutes.


              The best way to learn to get crispy skin on chicken is to practice, keep notes, make adjustments and keep trying.
              Last edited by bbqLuv; July 16, 2021, 06:05 AM.


                Yup - a higher temp. Just be careful if ya use a rub. The higher temps will burn sugar, so don't use a rub with sugar in it. And if ya want to sauce the chicken, do it during the last 10 to 15 minutes so it doesn't burn.
                Last edited by RonB; July 16, 2021, 05:54 AM.


                  Boiling water pre brine seems to help.


                    My wife uses Alton Brown’s chicken wing recipe. It turns out the greatest wings I’ve ever had. And I’ve been to The Anchor Bar in Buffalo and had wings there. Seriously, look at Alton Brown’s wing recipe. It’s superb. Her only modification to Alton’s recipe is she lets the wings dry in the fridge AT LEAST 4 hours, sometimes as much as 24 hours.

                    For whole chicken, here’s my technique ….. I’ve been working on this for about 10 years now, ever since my wife challenged me to cook chicken so that she would enjoy the skin
                    • Get the chicken as dry as possible, then spatchcock it
                    • Rub kosher salt under the skin on to the breasts and thighs
                    • Then lightly salt the skin and the exposed cavity of the bird
                    • Put on a cookie cooling rack on a cookie sheet, so that none of the bird is touching the cookie sheet itself and is all exposed to air
                    • Put in the fridge for 24 hours
                    • Lightly rinse the salt of the skin and then dry the skin
                    • Oil the skin lightly with olive oil
                    • Get your indirect zone on your grill running at least 350F, 375 or 400 is better
                    • Cook on the indirect zone until breasts are 160F
                    • Then go over direct heat, skin side down for 3-5 minutes to get a final crisp on the skin
                    • Rest for about 5 minutes, then carve


                    • ecowper
                      ecowper commented
                      Editing a comment
                      bbqLuv I’ve never had that happen, but I imagine it can

                    • fzxdoc
                      fzxdoc commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Wings: Oven baked, not Vortexed? I want to try Alton's Wing recipe thanks to your enthusiasm for it.


                    • ecowper
                      ecowper commented
                      Editing a comment
                      fzxdoc you definitely have to let the wings dry in fridge longer than Alton says. But other than that, simple, easy to do. Could be cooked on a grill, too. And turns out great wings.

                    I think you have your answers. The key is the temp with that skin. What ecowper has there has to be spot on with your prep. Keep at it, you will get it!




                        Also, pat it dry and leave chicken uncovered in fridge overnight. You want to dry out the skin.


                          For my pellet smoker I still have yet to find a method that works. I just picked up 3 chickens an hour ago so I am going to experiment a little. On my WSM I do the hot and fast method, which I learned from the Virtual Weber Smoker website. That has always worked well for me, and that's my plan for today's dinner. My thinking is do 2 on the WSM and 1 on the pellet.


                          • DavidNorcross
                            DavidNorcross commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Keep us posted!

                          • ecowper
                            ecowper commented
                            Editing a comment
                            WSM method … no water, full chimney of lit briquettes, all vents wide open?

                          I am going to say something here that most will think is crazy, or that I'm crazy, maybe will even cause a couple people to cancel their memberships because the staff here must be nuts...

                          I wet brine my chicken. And I find that the skin gets crispier when I do. Crazy, right?

                          In fact when I was testing the the Slow 'N Sear with Dave Parrish, I even used water in the reservoir and wet brined my chicken, and I got crispy skin.

                          I think what ecowper mentions with regard to Alton Brown's recipe, about salting the skin well, and under the skin, has merit. I apply the same principle to when I wet brine in that it will thoroughly salt everything. Then I make sure of course to pat it dry well before cooking. Then I cook north of 325, which is the minimum that Meathead recommends for crispy skin. Like many above have mentioned, 350-400 so much the better. For whole birds I don't go that high, I'm usually 325-350, because even though a whole spatchcocked bird is only the sum of its parts I find they take longer than pieces and I don't want my skin getting too dark and overdone, so I keep the heat on the low end of the poultry range. In a kettle with a SnS the temp up top is much hotter than at grate level, and cooking 350 means the top of the bird could be getting 450 the whole time.

                          Many ways to skin this cat.


                          • Mr. Bones
                            Mr. Bones commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Ma / Gma always soaked a yardbird overnight, in a bowla salt water...reckon, now it's called a wet brine lol

                            Try as hard as I may, I fail to see anything 'Crazy' goin on, here, Brother!

                            An...: Please, Trust Me...

                            I KNOWS CRAZY

                            Sadly, both Civil an Military documentation is readily available
                            Last edited by Mr. Bones; July 17, 2021, 10:28 AM.

                          • ecowper
                            ecowper commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Wet brine? Chicken? That’s it, I’m outta here!

                          • Panhead John
                            Panhead John commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Right behind ya ecowper We don’t need this sh..


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