This Dry Brined Smoked Chicken is slowly smoked then finished with a Carolina style BBQ sauce glaze.
If you’re looking for your next favorite chicken recipe then you’ve gotta try this!
I don’t know about you, but I feel like chicken never gets enough barbecue love. At least that’s what life is like around here with my beef-loving pork-swooning husband. I get it. I totally understand why between brisket, pork shoulder, and rib eye folks don’t always just jump to chicken as a flavor bomb for low and slow cooking. But I am here to challenge that assumption. If I can get my hubby excited about chicken, then it’s possible for anyone! He’s now a full believer in the potential of chicken. Boom.
Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina Style Glaze
What chicken does is provide a blank canvass for flavor. When you cook it right and have moist delicious meat, it becomes an amazing flavor experience. And one of our favorite secrets to punch massive flavor into chicken are a dry brine + smoke + glaze.
One option is to get a whole roaster by the pound. But what we like to do is buy the chicken and have the butcher cut it in half. First, you get more surface area of the bird exposed to smoke flavor. Having a whole roaster or fryer you have the open cavity, but you don’t necessarily get all that smoke throughout. So try getting a whole bird and cut it in half.
The Dry Brine:
Simply put, you are salting the meat (or any dry rub with salt as a good base) well in advance of cooking so that salt pulls moisture out from the meat, dissolves the salt, and then is reabsorbed back into the meat again. This helps get a good flavor inside the meat. Place your chicken in a large dish or on a baking sheet. Get some kosher salt, liberally sprinkle on all sides of your chicken, and then place it in your fridge. Let it sit in your fridge (uncovered) for a couple hours (up to six) for the full effect. I don’t have a photo of this step (because it’s totally unappealing to look at raw chicken hanging out inside your refrigerator), but it’s pretty self-explanatory.
How to Cook Dry Brined Chicken on the Smoker:
Start with a low heat, like 225 degrees, to get that smoke influence. We use oak or apple wood for flavor. If you want to highlight crispy skin, then run the smoker hotter, like 300 – 325 degrees. That can help render out the fat a little more.
The Carolina Style Glaze:
When using the glaze, this is where your favorite flavors can stand out. Like mixing sweet with heat and savory. In our case, we used a Carolina style BBQ sauce, with some added agave nectar, since Sean is a freak for this style of sauce. Feel free to use your favorite style of BBQ sauce as your glaze.
This will give you that great sauced flavor from your favorite style of BBQ sauce. BUT don’t glaze early. Sugar in the glaze will burn. So our secret is to wait until the bird is almost done, like right at 155 degrees versus the full finishing temperature (which is 165). Simply take your favorite glaze (or BBQ sauce) and spread it with a brush all over the bird. It will then begin to set and turn a rich color, caramelizing slightly and adding a lot of depth to flavor.
*Make sure to use a good thermometer, like this one.
Then, when the internal temperature (IT) hits 165, you pull it from your cooker, re-glaze again and let it sit for about 15 minutes loosely tented with foil. Then cut and serve. MMMMM.
How Long to Smoke a Whole Chicken?
The average cooking time will vary based on a number of factors, but plan on roughly 2 hours for the total cook.
Seriously, even the biggest pork and beef lover will swoon over this beautiful finish.
How to dry brine a chicken for amazing flavor. The chicken starts with a dry brine, and is then smoked slow and finished with a Carolina style BBQ sauce as a glaze.
- 1 roaster or fryer chicken halved (about 4 - 5 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons pepper freshly cracked is the best
- 1 cup of glaze
- 2 cups Carolina style BBQ sauce see notes for our recipe
- ⅔ cup agave nectar or honey
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- (Mix ingredients together in a bowl)
Assuming you bought a chicken half, rinse and pat dry your pieces. Then place on a cookie sheet that will fit in your fridge. Salt and pepper the bird up to six hours prior to cooking and put into fridge. This is important to get the full flavor and moisture. * Food safety tip - make sure it's not touching anything and then clean area you were using well after removing the chicken!!!
Preheat smoker to 225 degrees with your favorite cooking wood. We used apple wood. Remove the chicken from the fridge. You'll likely notice that the skin has pulled back some from the salting and dehydration in the fridge and the color may be darker. That is normal.
Place chicken on the smoker. Cook until the internal temperature (IT) is 150 to 155 degrees Fahrenheit. When it hits the IT of 150 - 155 take your favorite glaze and brush all sides of the chicken with it. Then continue cooking.
When IT then reaches 165 degrees, pull the chicken from the smoker and glaze once more. Place a sheet of foil over the chicken for up to 15 minutes, letting the juices redistribute.
Serve and enjoy with your favorite side.
For the glaze: we used 2 cups of the Carolina Style sauce from this recipe. Then mixed in about 3/4 cup of agave nectar (or honey) and a couple tablespoons of Dijon mustard for some kick.
Cooking time: The average cooking time will vary based on a number of factors, but plan on roughly 2 hours for the total cook.
So what you drink with this gorgeous chicken will depend on what style of BBQ sauce you used as your glaze. We used a Carolina sauce which is full of vinegar and mustard. If you go with a KC, or sweeter-style BBQ sauce that will create an even sweeter glaze. We strive for a balance of savory/smoky/sweet, which we achieved. This allows for more options with wine. If your sauce is more on the sweet side then you can opt for fruity reds like Zinfandel or Syrah. For the Carolina sauce, because of its vinegary pop, we stick to bold rosé’s, rosé sparkling (ah-yeah), or even beer. For beer I’m a fan of a pilsner or pale ale with this sauce.
MORE AWESOME BBQ AND GRILLED CHICKEN RECIPES
- Grilled Chicken with Blackberry BBQ Sauce
- Grilled Chicken with Ancho Chilies and Prunes
- Grilled Sriracha Sweet Chili Chicken
- Smoked Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Chipotle Honey Grilled Chicken
- Whole Smoked Roasted Chicken
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For more tasty recipes, BBQ tips and tricks, check out the Recipe Index.
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