Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina Glaze

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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!

Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina BBQ Glazed on a cooling rack

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, because of this recipe.

Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina Style Glaze

Dry Brined Carolina Style BBQ Chicken on a plate

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.

The Cut

One option is to get a whole roaster chicken, and butcher it yourself. 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 (also called “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.

How to Dry Brine Chicken

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. Liberally sprinkle kosher salt 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, but it’s pretty self-explanatory.

How to Cook Dry Brined Chicken on the Smoker

Two chicken halves cooking on a 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

Glazing a Smoked Chicken on a grill

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. 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

Taking temperature of smoked chicken with a digital thermometer

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.

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.

Dry Brined Smoked Chicken with a Carolina BBQ Sauce Glazed

Seriously, even the biggest pork and beef lover will swoon over this beautiful finish.

Wine Pairing for Dry Brined Chicken

Dry Brined Carolina Style BBQ Chicken on a plate

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 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 Chicken Recipes for the Grill

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4.60 from 5 votes

Dry Brine Smoked Chicken with a Carolina Glaze

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.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 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

For the Glaze:

  • 2 cups Carolina style BBQ sauce, see notes for our recipe
  • 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.

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Course: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ, Barbecue, Chicken, smoked chicken
Servings: 4 servings
Keyword: BBQ Chicken, Carolina Style BBQ Sauce, Carolina Style Glaze, Dry Brine Smoked Chicken, Whole Smoked Chicken
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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. 4 stars
    With a smoker you really don’t need a rub. I brush chicken w/ olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes cayenne. This seals in the juices and make a beautiful brown bird. It is normal for smoked poultry to be pinkish, so don’t freak out. If you smoke poultry too long, it will be rubbery.

  2. I’ve never had Caroline BBQ (I’m a Texas BBQ girl) but this looks delicious – vineger and msutard is interesting. The glaze looks beautiful 😀

  3. What a perfect meal for Memorial Day – And yes please with the rosé sparking!!! Great idea to have your butcher cut the chicken in half – It looks so impressive that way too!

    1. So far so good. The menu has been growing by 2-3 items daily. At the rate we’re going we’re going to need to invite a couple dozen people over to help us eat everything 😉

  4. The instant we own a smoker, I intend to make this. Pinning it for now and hoping to make it sooner rather than later.

    1. Ha! Get on that!!! 😉
      Well you can always use a regular outdoor grill too. Same method for the dry brining. Just try to keep the temperature of the grill a bit low (or cook over indirect heat) so everything cooks thoroughly. Then you can always finish it on hot to crisp up that skin!

    2. You don’t need a smoker just a charcoal kettle BBQ… weber is the best. Arrange 2 rows of briquettes domino effect around perimeter of inside BBQ unlit and add 1 row of briquettes on top, unlit. Take 5-6 briquettes and start and when ready lit (takes about 15 minutes to get ready) put adjacent to unlit charcoal. Add wood chunks on top of charcoal almost touching each other all the way around. It will be easy to attain 250F with this set up in summer temps. I think this is called the Minion method or snake method. Cheap cuts of beef come out awesome cooked at 250F Takes 5-7 hours for beef chicken about 3-4 hours but its fun way to get outside and cook. Enjoy

      1. James we love this detail, and we agree. SOOO many of our readers lament that they don’t have an expensive smoker, but all of these can be done on a kettle grill. And the kettles relative to their cousins are very affordable. We love the snake method, with the wood chunks on top, and actually did a piece for Weber cooking tri tip this way. Thanks for sharing your technique!