Smoker Chicken {With Spatchcock Step-by-Step Instructions}

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Smoked Spatchcock Chicken on cutting board.

Smoker Chicken With Spatchcock Step-by-Step Instructions is the most juicy and tender chicken to hit your lips. We love the spatchcock method for smoked chicken since it flattens the chicken, helping it cook much more quickly and evenly.

Smoked meat of any kind is always a hit at our house so I’m always on the lookout for good smoker recipes like this one.

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

A whole smoked chicken, all seasoned and golden brown.

Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’….Shall We?? 🙂

We love throwing a whole (spatchcocked) chicken onto the smoker. It comes off the heat with that good smoky flavor infused throughout every fiber of the meat – my mouth is watering just thinking about it!

Because we raise cattle here in our corner of Kansas, we eat quite a bit of beef. However, I do try to cook a fair amount of chicken, too, just to vary our weekly menu a bit. Two of our favorite chicken recipes are Juicy Whole Roasted Chicken and Cast Iron Chicken Marsala.

I really like roasting, grilling, and smoking whole chickens since they make a really nice meal right off the bat, and also provide lots of good cooked meat for using to make other dishes….such as Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken, Loaded Bubble-Up Chicken Pot Pie, and Alma June’s Crescent Roll Chicken Bundles.

3 good reasons to love this recipe for spatchcocked chicken

  1. The chicken is juicy, crispy, tender, smoky…..pure heaven.
  2. IF you have any leftovers, the smoked chicken is marvelous reheated.
  3. Whole chickens are very food-budget friendly!

What IS spatchcocked chicken….exactly?

Great question. Spatchcocking is a cooking technique where the chicken’s backbone is removed so the whole chicken can be opened up and laid out flat for cooking. By doing this, a spatchcocked chicken can cook much more quickly, no matter which method of cooking you are using.

Plus, because a spatchcocked chicken is flattened when it cooks, the skin of the chicken comes into more contact with the heat from your cooking source (oven, smoker, grill, skillet, etc) so there’s a lot more crispy-ness going on!

Which 4 ingredients do you need to make this recipe?

  • Whole chicken
  • Oil
  • Your favorite chicken rub or seasoning
  • Brown sugar

How to spatchcock a chicken, step-by-step:

A whole chicken being spatchcocked by removing the spine.

On a clean work surface or on a sheet of parchment paper or foil, place the chicken breast-side-down. Using the poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone, starting at the end closest to you and working up towards the neck area, cutting through the rib bones as you go.

Open up the chicken; use a sharp utility knife to cut a slit through the cartilage in the center of the chicken near the breastbone.

Chicken on cutting board spread out.

Now, flip the chicken over so it is breast-side-up, spreading it out on the work surface or cutting board.

Pressing down on the chicken to flatten it.

Using the heels of both hands, press directly down on top of the breastbone , flattening out the chicken.

Seasoned chicken, ready for the smoker.

Using your hands, rub the chicken on all sides with the oil. Liberally sprinkle the dry rub all over the oiled chicken. Using your fingertips, rub the seasoning into all the nooks and crannies of the chicken skin so it will adhere.

Seasoned rib side of whole chicken.

Flip the chicken over and repeat the seasoning process on the other side. Let the seasoned chicken rest while you prepare the smoker.

Checking the internal temperature of a chicken.

Preheat the smoker to 400 degrees F. When the smoker is fully preheated, place the seasoned chicken breast-side-up onto the oiled smoker, spreading the chicken out to lay as flat as possible.

Close the smoker and smoke the chicken for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature of the smoker to 325 degrees F. for the remaining time that it takes for the internal temperature of the chicken to reach 155 degrees F. at the center of the breast.

Smoked chicken, hot off the grill.

Remove the chicken from the smoker to a baking sheet or platter, immediately placing it into a plastic oven bag (or cover it with foil).

Smoked chicken in an oven bag resting and steaming.

Let the chicken rest and steam in the oven bag for 10-15 minutes so the meat can relax, allowing the internal temperature to raise to a finished 165 degrees F. at the center.

Carving a smoked chicken.

Slice the chicken as desired and serve at once.

Common Questions Asked About This Recipe

Which tools are helpful for making smoked spatchcock chicken?

Cutting the spine from the chicken is short work when you use a pair of poultry shears. I was shocked as to how well they worked for this task.

An instant-read dial thermometer is a must for cooking so many things….poultry, meats, casseroles, liquids. Using this kitchen tool takes all the guess-work out of internal temperatures that our recipe is directing. No more overcooking or undercooking….yay!

Long-handled grill tongs are always helpful when cooking meat. Some people use a long fork, but I don’t like to pierce the meat with a fork since that causes it to lose moisture.

What do I look for when buying a chicken to spatchcock and smoke?

I look for a whole chicken that’s 5-6 pounds in weight. I love how a whole chicken is so economical; because it’s not already cut up, it’s much cheaper per pound. When smoking a spatchcocked chicken, we don’t want it cut up, anyway!

How do I make sure my smoked chicken is safe to eat?

If your chicken is frozen, be sure you thaw it in refrigeration, never on the counter.

Keep in mind that thawed chicken can only safely stay in the fridge for 1-2 days before cooking it.

Be sure to cook the chicken to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

If I want to make spatchcocked chicken on the grill instead of a smoker, can I follow the same directions?

Sure can! You may need to use indirect heat instead of cooking the chicken directly over the coals.

This recipe calls for an oven bag to steam the chicken after it’s smoked. Are oven bags really safe for cooking?

Oven bags, also known as roasting bags, are generally made of food-grade polyester or nylon. They are generally BPA-free and are approved by the FDA for cooking.

However, because several studies have confirmed that chemicals can leach from oven bags, when used during high heat, I prefer to use oven bags just for resting my cooked meat so it can relax and raise to the final internal temperature.

The oven bag also keeps the inside so the steam can turn into condensation to help keep the meat moist. YUM.

What is a good way to use leftover smoked chicken?

We add it to pasta dishes quite often, as well as making quesadillas and grilled sandwiches. Leftover chicken is also good for making wraps and salads!

Can I freeze leftover smoked chicken to use at a later time?

Yes. Place the pieces of cooked and cooled chicken into a resealable freezer bag, removing as much as air as possible; store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Thaw in refrigeration.

More favorite poultry recipes to enjoy

Printable Smoker Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Smoked Spatchcock Chicken on cutting board.

Smoker Chicken with Spatchcock Step-by-Step Instructions

Smoker Spatchcock Chicken is the most juicy, savory roast chicken you'll ever taste! The spatchcock method allows the chicken to cook faster and much more evenly with a crispier skin. Odds are you're never going to make roast chicken another way!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 376kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, 5-6 lbs., unwrapped, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 3 Tbs. oil, for rubbing the exterior of the chicken
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3-4 Tbs. of your favorite chicken seasoning rub

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine the seasoning rub with the brown sugar; reserve.
  • On a clean work surface or on a sheet of parchment, place the chicken breast-side-down.
    Using the poultry shears, cut along each side of the backbone, starting at the end closest to you and working up towards the neck area, cutting through the rib bones as you go. **Discard the backbone or freeze to make soup stock later.
    Open up the chicken; use a sharp utility knife to cut a slit through the cartilage in the center of the chicken near the breastbone.
  • Now, flip the chicken over so it is breast-side-up, spreading it out on the cutting board or work surface.
    Using the heels of both hands, press directly down on the breastbone so that the meat can flatten out.
  • Using your hands, rub the chicken on all sides with the oil.
    Liberally sprinkle the dry seasoning rub all over the oiled chicken. Using your fingertips, rub the seasoning into all the nooks and crannies of the chicken skin so it adheres nicely. Flip the chicken over and repeat the seasoning process on the other side.
    Let the seasoned chicken rest while you prepare the smoker.

Smoking the Chicken at a High Temperature (Approx. 1 Hour)

  • Preheat the smoker to 400 degrees F.
    When the smoker is fully preheated., place the spatchcocked and seasoned chicken breast-side-up (or rib-bones-down) onto the oiled smoker, spreading the chicken out to lay flat.
    Close the smoker and smoke the chicken for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature of the smoker to 325 degrees F. for the remaining time that it takes for the internal temperature of the chicken to reach 155 degrees F. at the center of the breast.
    Remove the chicken from the smoker to a baking sheet or platter, immediately placing it into a plastic oven bag (or cover it with foil). Let the chicken rest and steam for 10-15 minutes so the meat can relax, allowing the internal temperature to raise to a finished 165 degrees F. at the center.

Smoking the Chicken at a Low Temperature (3-4 Hours)

  • Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F.
    When the smoker has reached 400 degrees F., place the spatchcocked and seasoned chicken breast-side-up (or rib-bones-down) onto the oiled smoker, spreading the chicken out to lay flat.
    Close the smoker and smoke the chicken for 3-4 hours until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. at the center of the breast.
    Remove the chicken from the smoker to a baking sheet or platter, immediately placing it into a plastic oven bag (or cover it with foil). Let the chicken rest and steam for 5-10 minutes so the meat can relax, allowing the internal temperature to raise to a finished 165 degrees F. at the center.

Serving the Chicken

  • Using a sharp carving knife, cut the chicken breasts from the bone, placing each one onto a cutting board; slice the breasts as desired and serve.
    Dark meat can be pulled from the bones to serve, or allow your guests to choose a piece of the dark meat chicken, as desired.

Notes

**Be sure to check the blog post for tips and tricks, specific instructions, good recommended tools, and FAQ’s for making this smoked chicken recipe.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken, grilling, smoked chicken, smoker

Nutrition

Calories: 376kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 92mg | Potassium: 266mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

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Let’s Get You Cookin’,
Chef Alli

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Chef Alli

Chef Alli is a home-grown Kansas girl on a mission to strengthen families through enabling kitchen confidence, educating the family cook, and encouraging better food relationships. She believes with her whole heart that time spent with our loved ones and our overall quality of life is greatly enhanced by nutritious food made at home with simple, wholesome ingredients. She loves being able to connect and share this passion with others through her website, her social media presence, and her coveted speaking engagements.

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