To smoke a half chicken, you will first need to divide the bird into halves, and coat each side with oil and dry seasoning. Fill your pellet grill with wood chips, and preheat to 225°F. Smoke the chicken for 1 to 2 hours until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, basting every 30 minutes with apple cider or beer.
Making a smoked half chicken on a pellet grill is similar to smoking a whole chicken, but it takes a little more prep work and a little less time to smoke.
Guide to Smoking a Half Chicken on a Pellet Grill
Here is your step-by-step guide on smoking a half chicken to perfection.
Tools Needed to Make Chicken on a Pellet Grill
To smoke a half chicken on a pellet grill, you will need the following equipment:
- Aluminum foil or foil pan
- Basting brush or spray bottle (optional)
- Chicken halves
- Grill thermometer
- Meat thermometer
- Pellet grill
- Wood pellets/wood chips (your choice of flavor)
How to Prepare the Chicken
To prepare the chicken, ask your butcher to split it in half or do it yourself at home.
To split the chicken in half, you will need a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board. Place the chicken breast side down on the cutting board. Using the tip of the knife, cut through the center of the chicken, starting at the neck. Then work your way down to the tail.
Once you have cut through the spine, use your hands to separate the two halves gently. Discard the backbone or save it for making stock. Then pat the chicken dry using paper towels.
The last step of chicken prep before smoking is to place the chicken in a marinade or brine it to infuse it with flavor.
Prepare the Pellet Grill
To prepare the pellet grill, fill the hopper with wood pellets and preheat the grill for at least 15 minutes, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Choose wood that goes well with chicken, like hickory, mesquite, applewood, or pecan.
Smoke the Chicken
Preheat the grill to 225°F. Place the chicken halves (or just one half) on the grill grates, skin side up. Close the grill lid and smoke the chicken until the internal temp of the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165°F.
You can baste or spritz the chicken with your choice of liquid (such as apple juice, vinegar, or beer) every 30 minutes to add moisture and flavor.
You can also wrap the chicken in aluminum foil (the same as you would for a brisket) for the last 30 minutes of cooking to help keep it moist.
Rest the Chicken
When the chicken is done cooking, remove it from the grill and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
To rest the chicken, you can place it on a cutting board or serving platter, loosely cover it with foil, and let it sit in a warm place. Resting the chicken allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a moister and more flavorful finished product.Print
Best Pellet Grill Temperature for a Half Chicken
It is generally recommended to start the cooking process at a temperature around 225°F to 250°F and then increase it to 375°F to 400°F towards the end of the cooking time.
The best way to smoke chicken is to start at a low temperature and finish it off on high heat. Cooking low and slow will ensure the meat will stay tender and moist. At the same time, raising the smoker’s temperature right at the end will ensure the chicken will have a nice golden crispy skin.
How Long Does it Take to Smoke a Half Chicken on a Pellet Grill?
Smoking a half chicken typically takes less than a whole chicken, which is very convenient. It usually takes 2 hours to smoke a half chicken at 225°F to 250°F, not including searing.
However, smoking time will vary according to many factors, like the size and thickness of the half chicken, the outside temperature, and the smoking method. So your best bet is always to measure your chicken using a meat thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe 165°F internal temperature.
What are the Benefits of Smoking a Half Chicken Instead of a Whole One?
There are several benefits to smoking a half chicken rather than a whole one:
- Time: It takes less time to smoke a half chicken than a whole one, making it a convenient option for those who don’t have much time.
- Portion control: This option allows you to control the portion size more easily, which can be helpful if you are trying to watch your intake of calories or fat.
- Even cooking: A half chicken is easier to position in the smoker, leading to more even cooking.
- More options: Smoking a half chicken allows you to try different seasoning and marinade combinations on each half, giving you more options for flavoring your chicken.
- Cost: Smoking a half chicken may also be more cost-effective than smoking a whole one, depending on the price of chicken in your area.
Marinade Ideas for Chicken
Marinating your chicken is a great way to keep it flavourful.
Here are three marinade ideas for smoked chicken:
- Lemon Herb Marinade: This is made with lemon juice, garlic, and a blend of herbs such as parsley, thyme, and rosemary. It’s a light, refreshing marinade that works well with chicken breasts or thighs.
- Pineapple Marinade: This marinade is an acquired taste. The umami flavors paired with the sweet pineapple complement the chicken meat perfectly.
- Soy Ginger Marinade: This marinade features a perfect combination of soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and brown sugar. It’s a savory and slightly sweet marinade that works well with chicken wings or drumsticks.
Best BBQ Sauce Ideas for Smoked Half Chicken
Chicken is the most versatile meat on the planet, so it works great with plenty of sauces.
Here are some delicious sauce options for smoked chicken:
- Classic BBQ Sauce: You can never go wrong with a traditional barbecue sauce. It’s made with just the right combination of ketchup, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, brown sugar, and a blend of spices.
- Honey BBQ Sauce: This sweet, smoky glaze has a honey flavor that pairs well with smoked chicken. But the best part is that you can use it for any meat!
- Chipotle BBQ Sauce: This sauce has a smoky, spicy flavor thanks to adding chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
- Sugar-free BBQ Sauce: This sweet, tangy, smoky sugar-free BBQ sauce is perfect for chicken and great for those watching carbs!
Side Dish Ideas for Smoked Half Chicken
These tempting sides are perfect to serve with your smoked chicken:
- Cucumber and Tomato Salad with Feta: This refreshing salad is made with sliced cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese, complemented by a tangy dressing. It’s a great way to add crunch to your chicken.
- Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad: This salad is full of flavor and texture, with grilled corn, black beans, green chiles, zucchini, and onion, all tossed in a lime dressing.
- Grilled Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint: This refreshing and tasty salad is made with grilled watermelon, feta cheese, arugula, red onion, and fresh mint, giving it a complex flavor that will please your palate.
- Roasted Carrots With Cilantro Yogurt and Peanuts: This colorful and flavorful side dish is made with grilled carrots, crunchy peanuts, and a delicious cilantro yogurt sauce.
- Spicy Roasted Sweet Potatoes: These sweet potatoes are coated in a spicy mixture of chili powder and paprika before being roasted to perfection. They make a tasty and slightly unconventional side dish for smoked chicken and work well with a variety of dipping sauces!
How to Store and Reheat Smoked Half Chicken
To store a smoked half chicken, allow the chicken to cool to room temperature. Then, you can place the chicken in an airtight container or wrap it in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
You can use the oven, stove, or microwave to reheat the chicken:
- To reheat in the oven, preheat the oven to 350°F and place the chicken in a baking dish. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and heat for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is warmed through.
- To reheat on the stove, place the chicken in a pan over medium heat and cook for about 5-10 minutes. It’s a good idea to add some butter or chicken stock while warming the chicken to ensure it remains moist.
- To reheat in the microwave, place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 1-2 minutes. Add a sauce to keep it moist while warming.
Per the USDA, reheat the chicken to 165°F before eating it to ensure it is safe as measured with a meat thermometer.