There are a variety of ways to cook chicken, but the more popular options are to roast or fry it. However, if you haven’t tried smoked chicken yet, you might be in for a surprise: it’s one of the best ways to enjoy your chicken. It keeps the meat tender and moist, which is difficult to achieve knowing that the chicken meat is prone to dryness.
If you are new to using an electric smoker with chicken, this guide is for you. Take time to learn more about how you can make the most of an electric smoker for the best tasting meat. Discover the tips and tricks to get the best tasting smoked chicken and some guidelines on how to achieve the right temperature.
Temperature and Time When Smoking Chicken
Cooking chicken in an electric smoker is one of the best ways to capture the smoky flavors that you would expect from a chicken barbecue. It is a great cooking technique to retain the flavor and moisture of the meat, as well as enhancing its aroma.
But using an electric smoker on chicken is not as easy as it seems. You need to achieve the right cooking temperature and internal temperature on the chicken for it to stay flavorful without being too dry.
The ideal temperature in the electric smoker should be 107 degrees C. You need to smoke the chicken for 45 minutes per pound of meat. Hence, the bigger the chicken is, the longer it will take to cook it in a smoker. An average sized chicken will take 2 to 4 hours to cook.
The best way to make sure that the smoked chicken is cooked properly is to check its internal temperature. You must insert the probe of a thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken breast. Make sure that the thermometer reads 75 degrees C. This is the ideal internal temperature for smoked chicken.
If you are using an electric smoker, you can turn it off as soon as you’ve achieved the ideal internal temperature for the chicken. It will stop cooking immediately but will keep the chicken warm.
How to Achieve the Best Smoke
Using an electric smoker on chicken is a great way to enjoy great tasting lean meat at home. The quality of the smoked meat will depend largely on the type of wood used for smoking. The wood chips used will complement the meat nicely and enhance its flavors, if you make the right choice on which wood to use.
The most popular options when smoking meat are mesquite, apple, cherry, and pecan. But there are other great options that you can use to take your smoked chicken to the next level.
- Hickory – This is a type of hard wood that has a strong taste with a touch of sweetness. This type of wood offers a hint of bacon flavor to your smoked meat. Hickory burns hot and slow. If you are smoking a smaller sized chicken, you need to use fewer wood chips as it can cause bitterness when used excessively. You can also combine it with other types of wood for a more complex flavor.
- Maple – This one has a milder and more subtle flavor than hickory. However, they are similar as they both burn hot and slow. This is the sweetest type of wood used for smoking.
- Cherry – This is another type of wood that has a mild and sweet flavor. This one burns hot but does so for a much longer time than hickory and maple. It is more popularly combined with hickory for smoking meat.
- Apple – This type of wood is notable for its mild and fruity flavor. It complements chicken and smoking other types of bird. The only downside to this is that it can take a while for the smoke to permeate the meat.
- Peach – This type of wood imparts a light and sweet flavor when smoking chicken. It burns hot and long. Make sure you use fresh cut peach since it can lose its flavor quickly when not smoked immediately.
Where Do You Put a Meat Thermometer in a Chicken
When using a meat thermometer to take the temperature of a whole chicken it is important to remember that to get an accurate determination of doneness, you will need to take temperature readings in several places. In the breast near the bone in the thickest part, in the thickest part of the thigh, and in the breast where the breast and wing join. It is critical to get these temperature readings to ensure the chicken has reached a safe temperature. 165⁰ Using an instant read thermometer like the ChefsTemp Final Touch X10. It is also advisable to use an oven thermometer that has long probes which can be left in the bird as it roasts. The ChefsTemp Quad XPro is perfect for this.
Additional Tips for Smoking Chicken
In addition to achieving the right temperature and knowing the exact amount of time it takes to smoke a chicken, you must also know the proper steps to season the meat. The first thing you need to know is how to spatchcock the chicken.
First, you must remove the backbone of the bird with a knife. Cut about half an inch from the side of the backbone and go all the way towards the neck and tail. Do the same process on the other side. Once the backbone is removed, spread the chicken and use a paring knife to remove the breast bone. This will allow the chicken to lie flat on the surface.
The process of spatchcocking the chicken is an essential step when cooking it in an electric smoker. This will help to increase the surface area of the chicken that can absorb the smoke.
Brining the chicken is another step for the perfect smoked chicken. You need to mix one gallon of water with a cup of kosher salt. The use of salt will help to break down the muscles of the chicken and increase absorption of moisture to the meat (to combat dryness). You may choose to add ingredients such as spices to enhance the flavor of the meat. It is important not to skip the brining process since chicken is a leaner meat, which makes it prone to becoming dry during the smoking process.
Once you take the chicken out of the brine, make sure to air dry it for at least an hour. By keeping the surface of the meat dry, it will smoke better.
In addition to the spices and other flavor elements you add to the brine, it is important to season the chicken meat before putting it into the smoker. You may use a spice rub with the ingredients of your choice. This step will add a depth of flavor into the chicken.