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Easy Smoked Pulled BBQ Chicken Recipe

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
4 hrs
Feeds 4
In this Recipe

I love smoked meats of all kinds, and when I do a BBQ feast, I usually like to serve Smoked Pulled BBQ Chicken as one of the options. I know brisket gets all the glory, everyone loves baby back ribs, and pulled pork is simple, but I really do enjoy serving a delicious smoked pulled BBQ chicken as one of the meat options. Here’s why:

  • It’s chicken and for people who don’t love “smoked foods” you can tell them it’s chicken. Everyone eats chicken.
  • For kids who “don’t like pork or beef” you can feed them this smoked pulled BBQ chicken instead, and they’ll probably grow up to love BBQ. Which is a major win.
  • This is a fast recipe to make (for smoked and pulled meat), only taking 2 – 3 hours instead of overnight. You can make these after you pull the brisket off to let it cool.

When you’re making smoked pulled BBQ chicken, you have two options for meat:

  1.  Cook only thighs or breasts, and pull that meat. It’s easy and you can do this in smaller quantities.
  2. Cook whole chickens and pull allllll of the meat.

My preference is to cook a whole chicken and then pull all of the meat and include a little bit of the crispy skin with the meat. You get a variety of flavors and textures from the different meats (dark and light) that make the finished product just a little bit more interesting and tasty. Whole chickens are also super affordable, so this is an easy way to serve one more meat without breaking the bank.

This recipe is written for a smoker, but you can also use a grill to accomplish this recipe. If grilling, cook over indirect heat and put a smoker box filled with wood chips on one of the burners. If you don’t have a smoker box, it’s easy to create one by wrapping a handful of wood chips in aluminum foil, then poking holes in the foil. Place the packet on the burner to create smoke. As far as what wood to use for this recipe, we recommend pecan or apple – really any lighter fruit wood will do great!

What do you think of this recipe? Do you enjoy smoked pulled BBQ chicken? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share any tips you have to make amazingly delicious smoked chicken! We love to hear your feedback.


  • 1 Whole Chicken (about 3- 4 lbs)
  • BBQ Rub (use your favorite)
  • BBQ Sauce


  1. Remove the chicken from your refrigerator and take out any giblets that are inside the chicken. Pat dry, then season liberally on all sides (and the inside) with BBQ rub. Let sit on the counter for up to 30 minutes while you prepare the grill to allow the chicken to start to come up to room temperature.

    Optional – you can rub the chicken and let it sit in the refrigerator up to 24 hours in advance to dry brine the bird for extra juicy flavor!

  2. Set up your smoker for indirect heat cooking at 275ºF with smoke like pecan or apple. Place the chicken over the heat, close the smoker, and cook for 2 – 3 hours until the breast reaches 165ºF. Don’t worry if you go a little over temperature, you are pulling and saucing the meat after all!

    You can cook using a vertical roaster (think beer can chicken without the beer can) to speed up the process a bit. You could also spatchcock your chicken to really speed the process up – it only takes about 1 hour to cook a spatchcocked chiken!

  3. Once the chicken reaches 165ºF in the breast, remove from the smoker and let sit for about 10 minutes before starting to pull. To pull the meat, we recommend using heat gloves and diving right in with your hands. First, remove the skin and set aside. Then start taking chunks of meat from the carcass and using your fingers, pull it into small pieces and place into a bowl. Be sure to get both breast and thigh and leg meat. If desired, you can use forks to pull, but we think hands work best for this task.

    If desired, chop up the crispy skin and add into the bowl with the meat.

  4. Add about 1/2 cup (more or less if you desire) of your favorite BBQ sauce to the bowl of smoked pulled BBQ chicken and mix together. Taste the mixture and season with more rub or sauce to your taste. Serve warm on sandwiches, or as part of a bigger BBQ platter. Enjoy!

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