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Smoked Whole Chicken (How to Cook a Whole Chicken on a Traeger)

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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.

A smoked whole chicken that has been cooked to a dark golden brown. Fresh thyme sprigs are sprinkled on top and around the chicken. A small bowl of gravy is next to the chicken.

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.

A smoked whole chicken that has been cooked to a golden brown color. Fresh thyme has been sprinkled on top and around the chicken.

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
  • Cumin
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Ground Mustard
  • Cayenne
  • Dark Brown Sugar
  • Garlic
  • Chili Powder
  • Butter
  • Apple Juice
  • Cornstarch 

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. 

A sliced smoked chicken, with sprigs of fresh thyme next to the slices of chicken.

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:

  1. Place a rinsed and dried chicken in the fridge all day to dry out the skin.
  2. Heat the smoker. 
  3. Mix the chicken dry rub together.
  4. Sprinkle a little dry rub in the cavity of the bird. Using kitchen twine, tie together the legs if needed. 
  5. Mix the remaining spice mixture with softened butter. 
  6. 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. 
  7. 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. 
  8. 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. 

A sliced smoked chicken on a platter. There are fresh thyme leaves sprinkled over the top of the chicken and sprigs of thyme are on the platter.

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: 

  1. Strain out any bits that you don’t want from the drippings in the apple juice, reserving all liquids. 
  2. If you couldn’t gather drippings, add 1 cup of chicken broth.
  3. Bring the liquids to a simmer in a skillet with raised sides. 
  4. Whisk cornstarch and water together in a dish and whisk into the gravy until desired thickness. 
  5. Brush over the chicken or use to dip pieces of chicken in. 

A glaze is being brushed onto a whole smoked chicken. There is a small bowl of gravy next to the chicken, and a dinner plate in the background

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: 

A small white bowl of gravy that is surrounded by sliced traeger smoked chicken with a few sprigs of fresh thyme beside the chicken. There is a piece of chicken on a fork that is being dipped in gravy.

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:

A whole chicken that has been cooked to a golden brown color. Fresh thyme has been sprinkled on top and around the chicken.

How to Cook a Smoked Whole Chicken on a Traeger

5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Servings: 6
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.

Ingredients

  • 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

For Cooking:

  • 16 oz Apple Juice
  • Foil Pan

For the Gravy:

  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Water
  • Pan of apple juice and drippings from the Traeger

Instructions

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!

Notes

  • If you don't have drippings leftover, just use 1 cup of chicken broth to make the gravy. 
Nutrition Facts
How to Cook a Smoked Whole Chicken on a Traeger
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 424 Calories from Fat 279
% Daily Value*
Fat 31g48%
Saturated Fat 13g81%
Cholesterol 125mg42%
Sodium 969mg42%
Potassium 332mg9%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 24g48%
Vitamin A 888IU18%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 28mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

A smoked whole chicken that has been cooked to a dark golden brown. Fresh thyme sprigs are sprinkled on top and around the chicken. A small bowl of gravy is next to the chicken.

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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4 comments

  • Amazing flavor!!!

    • Reply
    • Thank you! So glad you enjoyed it!

      • Reply
  • I got my first Traeger at a Costco roadshow about 20 years ago. They weren’t even digital back then. The guy told me to take the “Chicken Challenge. “ Set it to high for 70 minutes and don’t open the lid. Used their chicken rub. Best chicken I’ve ever had.

    • Reply
    • We are obsessed with our Traeger! Such a great product!

      • Reply

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