Grilled
Top view of two whole chickens being grilled on a circular metal grill with a red exterior.

Craving some juicy, smoky chicken that's sure to impress at your next dinner party? Smoked half chickens they're your ticket to backyard barbecue fame. This cut gives you the best of both worlds: tender white meat and succulent dark meat, all bathed in an irresistible smoky flavor.

Top view of two whole chickens grilled on a circular metal grill with red exterior.

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Smoking chicken can seem daunting, we get it. Chewy on the outside, burnt tips and undercooked on the inside.

Well, good news, chicken is cheap (comparatively) and our reliable chicken recipe with detailed instructions specific to the smoker simplify the process. This is our benchmark whenever we test a new grill, so we're keeping it locked in. So much so that this recipe will help you get perfectly smoked chicken with minimal work.

Our foolproof recipe explains how easy it is to get that coveted crispy skin and crazy juicy chicken. The trick? We like to run our grill a little hotter than a traditional grill recipes for smokers. Just like when we smoke a whole chickenit cooks it quickly, keeping it moist and giving the skin a bite-worthy texture.

Hungry? Well, get ready to become the pitmaster your neighborhood deserves.

Two halves of raw whole chickens on a wire rack in a baking pan with bowls of seasoning and salt on a black surface.

Ingredients for these smoked chicken halves

  • 2 chicken halves – if you start with a whole chicken, check out our guide how to cut a chicken to easily make two halves (and faster cooking times).
  • Kosher salt
  • Your favorite chicken rub (we recommend GirlsCanGrill Chicken Massage)
  • Barbecue sauceAji Amarillo Sauce, Chilli creamOR Alabama White Saucedepending on the flavor profile you want.
  • Chopped coriander for a fresh garnish finish

How to prepare smoked half chickens

Up your grilling game with these simple steps for smoking a half chicken that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Prepare the chicken:

  • Completely Dry the chicken with paper towels to ensure that the skin is crispy.
  • Season generously with salt and your chosen one rub dry.
  • Let the chicken rest on a wire rack refrigerator for 2 hours up to overnightwhich helps the skin dry for extra crispiness.
Two raw chicken halves covered in seasoning sit on a wire rack set on a black baking sheet.

Set up your smoker:

  • Clean and oil the grill grates.
  • Preheat your smoker for indirect heat with a constant temperature of 300 – 325 degrees F. See our notes in the recipe card for a charcoal grill, gas grill or pellet smoker.

Smoke the chicken:

  • Arrange the seasoned chicken, sternum below on the cold side of the grillusing indirect heat, and close the lid.
  • Let's leave the chicken smoke until the perfect internal temperature is reached about an hour on the grill. If your grill has hot spots, you may need to rotate the chicken once or twice, keeping the meat side up, to get even cooking.

Rest and serve:

  • Let's leave the chicken rest for a few minutes after smoking to keep it juicy.
  • You can serve these halves whole or break them into chicken breasts, thighs and drumsticks to serve. We don't baste our chicken with sauce while we grill it (because we want the best skin), so season it with your favorite sauce, then sprinkle it with fresh cilantro for a burst of color and flavor, and bite into it.

Expert Carnivore Recipe Tips for Girls

Cooking control: Use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken is perfectly cooked to safe internal temperatures: 165°F for chicken breasts and 170-175°F for thighs.

Skin perfection: Drying the chicken and letting it rest in the refrigerator are key to achieving the desired crispy skin. We also brush the skin of the chicken with oil in the last 15 minutes of smoking just to block the barbecue rub and add extra crunch.

Add extra smoky flavor: Use a piece or two of wood or a handful of wood chips in a smoker box to add a little extra flavor. We think hickory is the the best wood for smoking chicken when you want classic barbecue.

Two grilled chickens stuffed with vegetables sit next to each other on a black tray, with leafy green plants partially visible in the top right corner.  The wooden table top is visible below.

How to serve this juicy smoked chicken

This smoked chicken is a showstopper on its own or can be sliced ​​and served on a platter with assorted sauces for dipping. Pair it with simple side dishes like pickles, grilled vegetables, crispy chipsor a garden salad to let the smoky flavors shine.

Advance

To make easy leftovers, pick the meat off the bones before storing it wrapped in plastic wrap or in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. We love using leftovers in an easy way chicken saladlike chicken tacos, piled on top of nachos, grilled sandwichesor as a simple fry.

A seasoned grilled chicken cooking halfway on a round barbecue grill.

This smoked half chicken recipe offers a finger-licking easy meal for when you have a big appetite but don't want to work too hard. Fire up your smoker and get ready to make your backyard your new favorite neighborhood restaurant!

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Make smoked half chickens with insanely juicy meat and seriously crispy skin, perfect for when you need an easy chicken dinner. This recipe explains how simple this meal can be with suggestions for a variety of grills.

Prevent the screen from going to sleep

  • Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Be sure to dry all sides and under the fold of the chicken wings.

  • Season the chicken on both sides with salt and chicken rub.

  • Place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet, skin side up, and let rest in the refrigerator for 2 hours up to overnight.

  • Clean and oil the grill grates and preheat the smoker to 300 – 325 degrees F.

  • Once the grill is preheated, place the chicken on the grates and close the lid.

  • Let the chicken smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F in the breast and 170-175 in the legs and thighs with a digitalis meat thermometerabout 1 hour.

  • Carefully transfer the chicken thighs to a baking sheet and let rest for 7 to 10 minutes before serving.

  • Serve the chicken halves whole or cut them in half, separating the thigh and thigh from the chicken breast.

Cut whole chickens: You can easily prepare chicken halves spatchcocking a chicken with kitchen scissors and then cutting through the center of the sternum once again to separate the two sides in half. Check out our guide to how to cut a chicken for step by step instructions. Cooking control: Use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken is perfectly cooked to safe internal temperatures: 165°F for chicken breasts and 170-175°F for thighs. Skin perfection: Drying the chicken and letting it rest in the refrigerator are key to achieving the desired crispy skin. We also brush the skin of the chicken with oil in the last 15 minutes of smoking just to block the barbecue rub and add extra crunch. Add extra smoky flavor: To add a little extra flavor, use a piece or two of wood or a handful of wood chips in a smoker box. We love hickory for its classic barbecue flavor. For a charcoal grill:
  • For a traditional charcoal grill, prepare the coals for a 2-zone fire by pouring the lit charcoal onto one side of the grill. Clean the grill grates. Adjust the vents and cover the grill to allow it to preheat.
  • When the grill is ready, place the chicken halves on the cooler side of the grill. Cover with the lid and let the chicken cook as directed.
  • For a ceramic grillAs shown above, use the diffuser plates to create a smoky environment for the chicken.
  • We recommend Cowboy Lump charcoal and chunks of hickory wood.
For a keg smoker:
  • Light the coals and add them to the bottom of the drum when they are ready. Preheat your drum smoker by adjusting the vents. Clean and oil the grates.
  • With a drum smoker you have two options for chicken. You can place the chicken on the rack (set to the highest position) or hang the chicken halves. We love this method for the crazy BBQ flavor.
For a traditional pellet grill (Traeger)
  • For a pellet smoker, preheat the grill to 300 – 325 degrees F. Clean and oil the grill grates.
  • When the grill is preheated, add the chicken to the grill, close the lid and cook until it reaches 165 to 175 degrees F.
  • Since most pellet smokers don't have a cooler or hotter side of the grill, you may want to rotate the chicken halves for even cooking.
  • We recommend Jack Daniel's Charcoal Pellets
For a gas grill:
  • Set up your gas barbecue for indirect heating by first preheating the grill with all burners on high. Clean and oil the grill grates. Then turn off 1 of the burners, this will be your interesting side. Adjust other burners to medium heat and maintain a temperature of 300-325 degrees F. Don't be shy with the flavor and consider smoking on a gas grill by adding wood chips to a smoker box or foil packet to amplify really the taste.
  • When the grill is preheated, cook the chicken halves as directed on the cooler side of the grill.
Useful articles:

Serving: 1serving

Course: Main door

Kitchen: American, barbecue

Frequent questions

How long does it take to smoke chicken halves?

Because we run our smoker at a higher temperature, around 350-350°F, our chicken cutlets cook in about an hour. It doesn't have the same smoky flavor as a lower temperature, but it helps the skin maintain a good texture and the meat juicy.

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