When you’re making pulled chicken, you have two options: one, cook only thighs or breasts, and pull that meat, or two, cook whole chickens and pull allllll of the meat. Our preference at Lake Geneva Country Meats 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 that make the finished product just a little bit more interesting in our opinion, and definitely a different flavor than “standard” pulled pork. You can also find whole chickens for very reasonable prices (we love our Amish chickens for this recipe!) so having a delicious BBQ meal won’t cost you that much money.
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 chicken? Let us know in the comments below and feel free to share any tips you have to make amazingly delicious smoked chicken!
- 1 Whole Chicken (about 3- 4 lbs)
- BBQ Rub (use your favorite)
- BBQ Sauce
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!
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 3 – 4 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.
Once the chicken reaches 165ºF in the breast, remove from the smoker and let sit for about 5 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.
Add about 1/2 cup (more or less if you desire) of your favorite BBQ sauce to the bowl of pulled 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!