Spatchcock Smoked Chicken is a whole chicken cut to lay flat, covered in a delicious dry rub, and smoked to tender moist perfection.
The deep rich hardwood smoke flavor is infused into the entire chicken. The mouthwatering homemade dry rub and optional whiskey BBQ sauce really takes this main dish over the top!
Spatchcock Smoked Chicken is the perfect summer meal to enjoy out on the patio. There are about a million different ways to cook a chicken. You can throw it in the Instant Pot and make Shoyu Chicken. Or you can leave it in the crockpot all day and make a Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Stack. You can always cook it on the stove and make something like Chicken and Brussel Sprouts with Mustard Sauce.
But nothing quite beats the taste of a slow cooked smoked chicken that has been smothered in a mouthwatering dry rub. Especially during the warm sunny days of summer where we're all trying to maximize our time outdoors.
How to spatchcock a chicken:
Spatchcock is a specific kind of butterflying technique, for birds. It involves removing the backbone so that the entire chicken can lay flat. Some people will remove the keel, or breast bone, as well, but I don't bother.
The reason for spatchcocking (is that a word?) a chicken is to allow for faster and even cooking. This cutting technique works great for both baking and grilling.
You can use a sharp knife to spatchcock a chicken, but I highly recommend using a high quality pair of clean kitchen shears. A good pair of kitchen scissors will cut through bone and cartilage easily and I just run it through the dishwasher to sanitze when I'm done.
The best seasoning to put on smoked chicken is...
My One Spoon Dry Rub, of course! I first put this dry rub together a few years ago. I was tired of recipes that called for a half teaspoon of this and a tablespoon of that. I wanted a dry rub that was really easy to put together, had all the great flavors you could ask for in a rub, and most importantly - a dry rub recipe that only required a single measuring spoon.
I didn't end up using any BBQ sauce on this chicken, but you can easily smother it with some sauce before serving. Just give it enough time to seize up and get sticky on the grill. I highly recommend making my Whiskey BBQ sauce. If you're in a hurry, my Carolina Yellow BBQ Sauce is super quick and easy to throw together.
How long does it take to smoke a chicken?
I smoked my chicken at a temperature of 250 degrees F. At that temperature, it may take several hours to fully cook the chicken. You must use a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
The cooking time will depend heavily on the size of your chicken as well as the starting temperature. Whether you let it sit out at room temperature or it came straight from the refrigerator will be a factor on how long it will take to cook. Always trust the thermometer over recommended time!
What to serve with smoked chicken:
- Grandma's Potato Salad
- German Potato Salad
- Easy Broccoli Slaw
- Angel Hair Coleslaw
- Hidden Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Spatchcock Smoked Chicken
- 1 whole chicken (approximately 4 pounds)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup dry rub (see full recipe link in notes for my One Spoon Dry Rub)
- ½ cup BBQ sauce (optional, see full recipe link in notes for my homemade whiskey BBQ sauce)
- Use kitchen shears to cut chicken in half. Start at tail and work your way all the way around both sides of the spine so that the chicken is split down the middle (breast, wing, thigh, drumstick on each side).
- Lay out two pieces of plastic wrap. Cover each chicken half with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- In a separate bowl, mix up dry rub. Generously coat all sides of chicken with dry rub, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate an hour or up to over night.
- Set smoker to smoke at least 5 minutes with the lid open. Increase heat to 250 degrees F and close lid. Unwrap chicken and add to grill, skin side up. Insert meat thermometer into the thigh, avoiding contact with bone. If just using dry rub and not BBQ sauce, continue to cook until internal temperature of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. My chicken took about 3 hours to fully cook.
- Optional: While the chicken is smoking, make whiskey BBQ sauce. Smoke until internal temperature of breast reads 145 degrees F. At this point, smother chicken in BBQ sauce and continue to cook until internal temperature of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.
- Allow chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before eating.