smoked chicken
Main Dishes, Recipes

Superbly Spiced Smoked Chicken


Last year, we caught an episode of Grill It!  With Bobby Flay, where his guest, Robin Koury, did a beer can chicken on the grill.  The rub she used on her chicken looked great, and I had enjoyed beer can chicken in the past, so I hopped online and found her recipe at

While her rub looked as good as a recipe as it did on television, she was doing her bird mostly directly on the grill, and I was looking for more of a smoked chicken recipe.  So I combined her rub with some basic smoked chicken recipes I found elsewhere, including my go-to guide “Cook-n Cajun Water Smoker Cookbook.”

Beer can chicken--an entertaining visual, and good chicken, but unnecessarily complicated (especially removing it from the can at the end).

The first couple of times I did it, I did it beer can-style, where you prop up the chicken on a pan, upright sitting on a beer (or soda) can, which is supposed to help keep the chicken moist.  It creates a great visual, but after comparing the chicken on a beer can and off a beer can side by side, I really don’t think it makes any difference in a smoker.  Perhaps on a straight grill/bbq it dries out faster and needs the extra moisture from the can and pan, but in a smoker, if you’re using a water pan over (or adjacent to) the coals, the humid smoke seems to keep the meat perfectly moist without the can in the cavity.

The smoked chicken turns out great.  The rub has a really nice kick that goes well with the smoke, but isn’t too spicy (even for my very spice intolerant daughter).  We generally do two chickens at a time on the smoker (really the same amount of work as one), and we eat one immediately with dinner and cut up the leftovers and the second chicken for chicken quesadillas, chicken nachos, bbq chicken pizza, chicken sandwiches and/or chicken salad, all of which benefit from the smoky goodness of this chicken recipe.  The carcass also makes an excellent base for soup stock!

Stuff for stuffing the chicken(s).
Stuff for the rub.
Chicken, well rubbed.
Smoked chicken, ready to come off the grill!
Smoked chicken ready to be tented.
Tented chicken.
Carved smoked chicken--the pink parts are okay, I promise!
Smoked chicken breast, ready to eat!
Superbly Spiced Smoked Chicken
Weight Watchers Info: 3 PointsPlus for a 3-ounce serving of cooked boneless skinless white meat. 4 PointsPlus for a 4-ounce serving of cooked boneless skinless dark meat.
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Serves: Serves 4 per chicken
Main Ingredients:
  • 1 4 to 5 pound whole chicken
  • ¼ yellow onion
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Wood chunks (hickory, pecan, or apple are my favorites–mesquite is too strong for a slow smoke on chicken)
  • Spice rub (see below)
Spice Rub Ingredients:*
  • ¼ cup paprika
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  1. Begin fire for smoker.
  2. Remove giblets from chicken, dry skin.
  3. Gently separate skin from breasts.
  4. Rub chicken inside and out with spice rub, including under skin.
  5. Put onion, rosemary, thyme, and garlic inside chicken cavity.
  6. Put foil on wing tips to prevent burning or drying out.
  7. Place chicken on smoker grid
  8. Add wood chunks to fire box. Re-add every 45 minutes to an hour.
  9. Try to keep smoke chamber at about 225 degrees.
  10. If you keep the chamber at about 225 degrees, it should take about 30 minutes per pound, but it will be done when your meat thermometer shows about 165 degrees in the deepest part of the breast (near where it connects to the thigh).
  11. Take chicken off grill, tent in aluminum foil for about 10 minutes.
  12. Carve and eat!
Smoked chicken (or turkey) meat will look pink. If you have a good meat thermometer and you hit 165 degrees, it is done. It will be even more obvious that it is done as the drumsticks come easily out of the joints.
If you haven’t done a lot of smoked meats, or don’t have a smoker yet, check out my primer on smoking meats here.
*Spice Rub Source: Robin Koury’s Spice of Life Beer Can Chicken
*Spice Rub Yield: Enough for 3 chickens
*Spice Rub Weight Watchers Info: 0 PointsPlus per serving.


  1. Recipe looks good, very similar to my bayou smoker ckicken, but try to brine the chicken prior to rubbing with spices for 24 hours in sea salt, hot sauce, whiskey, garlic, lemon juice and zest.

    • Jeff Greene

      I always brine my turkey, but have not brined my chicken. But sounds very tasty, and I will have to try that–thanks for the tip!

  2. Brine overnight in the same herbs you plan on stuffing into the cavity, along with onions, garlic and apple juice.

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