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  • David Skarin

Perfectly Smoked Chicken

Smoked chicken is a fundamental basic and staple of good barbecue. This recipe is a base recipe and can be manipulated with sauces to your heart’s desire. But, we are going to teach you how to smoke the perfect chicken. Once you learn how to smoke the perfect chicken, you can then start to experiment.

This recipe calls for what’s called “spatchcocking” the chicken. Here is a link to a video showing you how to do this. But, the principle is to remove the backbone of the chicken to allow the chicken to lay flat and have a nice, even cooking surface. This helps to ensure that the chicken is not over/under cooked in sections and all the delicious meat is cooked perfectly.

Furthermore, this recipe has a brine component which is optional but if you skip the brine you are forgoing a bit of juiciness. If you have the time and are planning ahead, brining is highly recommended.


If you like Spatchcock Chicken, be sure to check these other recipes:


Fast Facts

Category: Poultry - Chicken

Weight: 3.5 Pounds

Grill: Traeger

Heat Source: Wood Pellets

Estimated Cook Time: 4 hours

Actual Cook Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

Estimated Cooking Temperature: 225 degrees

Actual Cooking Temperature: 225 degrees

Cook Date: February 7, 2021


Ingredient List


  • 10 cups water

  • 1 cup Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns

  • 7-8 cloves of garlic

  • 4 tablespoons honey

  • 1 lemon

  • 2-4 sprigs of rosemary

Tip: For a brine, a ratio of roughly 10-1 water to salt is good.

Chicken and Rub

Supply List

  • Brining bowl

  • Stock Pot

  • Poultry Shears

  • Thermometer - These are critical tools to have there are two main types. First, instant read thermometer like this one or this one. The Thermapen is worth it's weight in gold and one I use almost every day. I know the price tag seems excessive but it's the best in the business for a reason. If you're looking for a dual temperature thermometer for both grill temperature and meat, this is the way to go. I use my Smoke for longer more specific cooks such as this.



Prep and Brining

Step 1: Make the brine. In a large saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil and stir until salt is dissolved. Once dissolved, set aside to cool.

Tip: You can cool it down quickly with ice if you don’t have time to let it cool naturally but you’ll want to reduce the amount of water originally used. A quick ratio is about 8-10 regular ice cubes per cup of water.

Step 2: While the brine is cooling, place your chicken breast side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears, cut the backbone out of the chicken. Trim off any remaining ribs. For a video of this, click here.

Tip: You can keep the backbone to make chicken stock…or you can discard, your call.

Step 3: Place the chickens breast-side up, then firmly press down with your hands to flatten. Trim off any excess skin. You want to ensure your chicken lays nice and flat. Again, click here for a video showing this process.

Step 4: Place the flattened chicken in a pot or marinating dish where the chicken can be covered with the brine. You can also use a large Ziploc bag if needed. Add the brine. If you didn’t make enough brine to cover the chicken, just add additional cups of water. Make note for future cooks. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours but overnight is preferred.

Step 5: For the best result, about 3-6 hours before the cook, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse under water and pat dry. Place the chicken on a baking rack, uncovered, and refrigerate for 1-4 hours. This will help the skin dry out and create a crispier skin while cooking.

Step 6: Remove from the refrigerator and allow the chicken to come to room temperature. This takes about 1-2 hours. Suggest covering with tin foil.

Seasoning and Cook

Step 1: Fire up your smoker and bring to 225 degrees.

Step 2: Drizzle your chicken with olive oil and liberally season the chicken.

Tip: If you have a digital meat probe, I highly suggest inserting it to keep an eye on the temperature as you are cooking the chicken to a specific temperature. I use my Smoke thermometer and it always comes out perfect!

Step 3: Place the chicken on the smoker and cook to temperature (this can vary based on outside elements), typically lasts about 40-45 minutes per pound but I’ve had cooks go much faster and much slower.

Step 5: Cook to at least 160 degrees in both the thigh and breast. Remove from the grill and let rest 10-15.

Final step: Dig in and enjoy!!

Lessons Learned (Note: I will update this section to include your lessons learned from the comment section)

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