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The smoked whole chicken on a cutting board with a spoon of BBQ sauce to the left.

Smoked Whole Chicken on a Pellet Grill

Your summer barbecues aren’t complete without this easy smoked whole chicken! Prepared with a simple yet flavorful spice rub, this chicken is smoked to perfection for the most succulent, tender and moist meat. Plus, this smoked chicken takes 10 minutes of hands-on preparation time, and you can smoke one or multiple chickens at a time.
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine American
Prep Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 301kcal


  • Kitchen or butcher twine
  • Smoker
  • Wood chunks or pellets depending on the type of wood your smoker uses
  • Large bowl to hold chicken for dry brining
  • Basting brush
  • Cutting board and sharp knife


  • 1 whole chicken about 4-5 pounds, innards removed
  • 1 heaping tablespoon salt
  • 1 lime cut into wedges
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • BBQ sauce optional


  • To dry brine for crisp skin, pat the chicken dry with paper towels, and then generously sprinkle with salt and rub into the skin. Stuff the chicken cavity with the lime wedges and use kitchen or butcher twine to tie the legs to keep them tight. Place the chicken in the refrigerator uncovered for at least four hours, though overnight is ideal. Do not wipe off the salt after brining.
  • Prepare the smoker according to the manufacturer’s directions, fill the water pan and set the temperature to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. As the smoker heats, make the spice rub by simply stirring together the chili powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, black pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin and mustard powder.
  • Rub the spice mixture all over the skin. Gently lift the skin and rub some spices directly onto the meat as well. Place the chicken in the smoker with the breast-side up and thighs closest to the heat source. If possible, try to tuck in the wing tips.
  • Close the smoker and smoke the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees. Replenish the wood if necessary while cooking. Open the smoker, brush the skin with olive oil and BBQ sauce if desired and crank up the heat to 350 degrees to finish cooking. The chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast meat and 175 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh meat. Make sure the thermometer does not touch the bone.
  • Let the chicken rest for 10-15 minutes to allow the juices to settle and then carve with a sharp knife. If desired, serve with additional BBQ sauce. Enjoy!



  • This salt for dry brining will look like a lot. Don't worry. This is normal, and it will not come out too salty because of the reabsorption into the meat. 
  • Depending on the size of the chicken, cooking time can vary. Plan for 45-60 minutes per pound.
  • I like to use a leave-in thermometer, so I can always keep an eye on the internal temperature.
  • I recommend removing the chicken from the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to allow it to come down in temperature.
  • Hickory is great for a smokier chicken, though mesquite is a bit strong. Apple, pecan, cherry and maple are great for a milder smoke flavor.
  • For a great homemade sauce, I love my honey-sriracha BBQ sauce and coffee-bourbon BBQ sauce.
  • Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


Serving: 6ounces | Calories: 301kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 90mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 257IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg