Smoked chicken halves with crispy skin, moist and tender meat, and plenty of flavor. Served with a delicious tangy apple cider vinegar sauce.
This smoked chicken recipe was an instant hit. I split a whole chicken in half and smoked it without brining as I wanted it quick. I used a simple salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder rub with a touch of cayenne pepper. To make the seasonings stick, I rubbed the chicken halves with some olive oil before applying the rub. I then smoked them over indirect heat and finished over direct heat to make the skin crispy and palatable. Right before serving, I doused the chicken with a homemade apple cider vinegar sauce. It turned out fabulous: smoky, crispy-skinned, juicy, tangy and very flavorful. We normally have some chicken leftovers but not with this chicken.
By far the biggest problem with smoked chicken is the rubbery skin. No one likes that. There are several ways to deal with this problem - some are effective and some are not so much. One really good way is to pan-sear chicken before smoking (see my smoked chicken breast and smoked chicken quarters recipes).
Another very effective way is to crisp up chicken skin over direct heat. This is the method that I use in this recipe. It's way better than simply raising the temperature while still smoking over indirect heat. Simply set up your smoker with dual heat zones - direct and indirect. In my Big Green Egg smoker, I just pile the charcoal on one side and leave the other half empty. Simple as that. I like this method a lot more than using a plate setter. It's simpler and the smoke and heat move more freely and more efficiently.
I then smoke the chicken halves low and slow over indirect heat until they are almost done.
When the chicken registers about 140F in the breast part, I flip the chicken and move it over to the direct heat and smoke for 10 minutes, allowing the skin to properly crisp up. Then flip again and cook for another 10 minutes or until the internal temperature in the breast part reaches 160F and 185F in the legs. Simple as that and super effective.
Before serving my smoked chicken halves, I let them rest for about 10 minutes then douse with a simple to make apple cider vinegar sauce. It adds so much flavor to the chicken that it makes it almost irresistible. You can't beat the sweet, salty and tangy taste, it's a classic that works well with many types of meat.
You can serve extra sauce on the side or just pour some over chicken pieces in individual serving plates.
Smoked Chicken Halves
- 2 chicken halves
- 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper or to taste
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp vegetable oil for rubbing
Apple cider vinegar sauce
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar or light brown sugar
- 1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- Set up your smoker for dual-zone smoking - direct heat and indirect heat. Preheat the smoker to 225F at the grate level in the indirect heat zone.
- While the smoker is preheating, combine apple cider vinegar sauce ingredients in a small bowl or a cup and stir or whisk well. Set aside until ready to use.
- Rub the chicken with oil and evenly sprinkle the seasonings on both sides of the chicken halves. Pat down to make the seasonings stick.
- Transfer the chicken to the smoker, skin side up and smoke over indirect heat for about 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature in the breast part reaches 140F.
- Flip the chicken (the halve will be skin side down now) and transfer to the direct heat zone. Smoke for 10 minutes. Flip and continue smoking over direct heat until the internal temperature in the breast part reaches 160F and about 185F in the leg/thigh parts.
- Remove the chicken from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Cut the chicken into serving pieces, douse with the apple cider vinegar sauce and serve with your favorite side dish.