Never made a Smoked Whole Chicken on a Traeger? Don’t fret, it’s easy! In this post, we give step by step instructions on how to smoke a whole chicken. You might even like it more than our Traeger Chicken Breast or our smoked chicken wings.
Traeger Smoked Whole Chicken Recipe
Whole chicken recipes are really difficult to sort through. I’ve made enough of them, all of which claimed to be the best of the best but all were just cooked chicken. I mean, just because it’s a whole bird does not mean it has to be difficult, time consuming and especially not bland.
So I got all obsessed. I decided to make a whole chicken that you’d order in a restaurant over the steak. I know, I know, but really, this smoked whole chicken is going to knock your dang socks clean off of you.
Why, why is that a saying? Knock your socks off? What about your shoes? Why didn’t we knock those off first? Who are all of these people walking around in socks?
Actually, it’s me.
If you know me, if you’re a friend or a neighbor you know that I’m ALWAYS in socks because my feet are ALWAYS cold.
Smoked Whole Chicken Ingredients
Believe it or not, you only need a handful of ingredients to make a Traeger smoked chicken. This Traeger whole chicken recipe has three main components: the dry rub used to flavor the smoked chicken, the few extra ingredients needed to actually smoke the chicken, and the ingredients needed to make a gravy from the pan drippings.
Here’s what you’ll need to make a smoked whole chicken on a Traeger:
- Fresh Thyme Leaves
- Salt and Pepper
- Onion Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Ground Mustard
- Dark Brown Sugar
- Chili Powder
- Apple Juice
Note that adding a pan of apple juice to the smoker creates a delicious steam that keeps the meat moist and adds flavor as well.
How to Smoke a Whole Chicken
Smoked whole chicken does not need much time or attention at all. The most important step starts out the morning of, or even the night before is fine.
The most important step is to rinse, dry and set the bird in the fridge to dry out the skin. If you absolutely don’t have time or you forget, no biggie, it will still turn out awesome, but it does make for a better skin on the whole chicken.
Here are the basic steps to making a Traeger smoked chicken:
- Place a rinsed and dried chicken in the fridge all day to dry out the skin.
- Heat the smoker.
- Mix the chicken dry rub together.
- Sprinkle a little dry rub in the cavity of the bird. Using kitchen twine, tie together the legs if needed.
- Mix the remaining spice mixture with softened butter.
- Pull the skin up and loosen it from the meat. Spread the butter under the skin and all over the meat and then the rest all over the outside of the bird.
- Fill a pan with the juice and if your smoker permits, place it on the bottom rack and the chicken on the rack right above it.
- Smoke the bird for until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. Remove to rest while you whisk up the drippings.
How Long to Smoke a Whole Chicken
Depending on the size of your bird, it’ll need to smoke for roughly 60 to 80 minutes at 375 degrees F. You’ll know your smoked whole chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
How to Make Gravy from Pan Drippings
I will never forget roasting my first chicken, calling my mom and saying, “Now, how do I make a gravy? Is there a packet I buy?”
Silence, followed by “that’s what the pan drippings are for.” More silence, this time from me. 😬
Here’s how to make gravy from pan drippings:
- Strain out any bits that you don’t want from the drippings in the apple juice, reserving all liquids.
- If you couldn’t gather drippings, add 1 cup of chicken broth.
- Bring the liquids to a simmer in a skillet with raised sides.
- Whisk cornstarch and water together in a dish and whisk into the gravy until desired thickness.
- Brush over the chicken or use to dip pieces of chicken in.
How Long Will Smoked Chicken Keep?
A smoked chicken will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator.
Can You Freeze Smoked Chicken?
Smoked chicken can be frozen for 1 month. A FoodSaver will help you to be able to get the best results as it sucks out the air and vacuum seals the meat.
What to Serve with a Whole Chicken
Congrats! You’ve just smoked a whole chicken. Now the question is, what should you serve with your delicious Traeger whole chicken?
Here are a few of our favorite chicken side dishes to give you some ideas:
- Broccoli Bake
- Tomato Tart
- The BEST Mashed Potatoes
- Cheesy Zucchini Casserole
- Pea Salad
- More of our Favorite Side Dishes!
Tips for the Best Smoked Whole Chicken
The dry rub is the most important part of flavoring a whole chicken. Dry rub goes both under and over the skin, but I’ve found that throwing a little in the cavity makes the spices bloom out and increase flavor from inside out too.
We use fresh thyme leaves in the dry rub as it brings on a little different flavor than dried thyme. It transforms the chicken into something a lot more delicious and wonderful. If you must used dried thyme, use half the amount of fresh as it’s a condensed version and stronger.
As for the smoked paprika in the dry rub — find it. The end. It is not the same to use regular paprika. Really, smoked paprika is incredible. You can find it at most stores, but it’s sold on Amazon as well if you need it.
More Traeger Recipes:
- Glazed Chicken Wings
- Smoked Chicken Breasts
- Brisket on a Traeger
- Dry Rub Chicken Wings
- Pork Butt on a Traeger
- Tri Tip Recipe
- Chicken Kale Salad
- All of our favorite Traeger recipes!
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How to Cook a Smoked Whole Chicken on a Traeger
- 1 Whole Chicken , giblets removed, rinsed and patted dry.
For the Dry Rub:
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme Leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 2 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
- 2 Cloves Garlic , minced
- 1 Tablespoon Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 1 Crack Black Pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Ground Mustard
- 1 Pinch Cayenne
- 1 Pinch Chili Powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Cumin
- 6 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter , softened
- 16 oz Apple Juice
- Foil Pan
For the Gravy:
- 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Water
- Pan of apple juice and drippings from the Traeger
Smoke the Whole Chicken:
- If you have time, put the chicken on a plate, uncovered in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to a whole day to dry out the skin.
- Heat a smoker to 375 degrees F.
- Place the spices in a bowl and mix to combine.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the spices into the cavity of the chicken.
- Add the butter to the remaining spices and mix until it forms a smooth paste.
- Lift the skin of the chicken and rub 1/2 the butter on the meat under the skin and the remaining butter/spice mixture all over the bird.
- Fill a foil pan with the apple juice and place it on the lowest rack and the chicken, breast side up on the rack above it. If you cannot do this, the chicken will have to go next to the pan and you will have to add 1 cup chicken broth to the juice after for the gravy.
- Cook for 60-80 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Ours took 70 minutes because it was a bigger bird.
- Remove to a tray and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes. Do not cut before that.
Make the Gravy:
- Meanwhile, bring the accumulated juices and the drippings to a simmer in a skillet over medium heat.
- Combine the cornstarch and water and slowly, while whisking add to the gravy. Continue whisking until thickened.
- Slice the chicken and brush with the gravy. Serve!
- If you don't have drippings leftover, just use 1 cup of chicken broth to make the gravy.