Whole Smoked Chicken with a Smoked Chicken Brine

13 reviews

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This smoked chicken is prepped in the most amazing Smoked Chicken Brine you’ll ever have. The brine is a homemade zesty Tabasco spiked brine that keeps the chicken incredibly juicy. It is so tender and flavorful, you’ll want to make extra to use in salads, soups, and dinners the whole week!

whole chicken cooked with a smoked chicken brine on a wooden cutting board.

Smoked Chicken Brine

Smoking whole chickens is one of my favorite ways to prepare a family style meal. All the magic happens with just a little bit of patience and time. Smoked chickens come in several varieties, and I like to make them many different ways. Some are halved, some are spatchcocked, but the simplest way to smoke chickens is just to season them liberally and smoke low and slow.

Smoked chicken is a bit of an art form, and one common struggle when smoking is rubbery skin. This happens when the smoke starts to dry out the chicken skin without cooking at a high enough temperature to render the fat and make it crispy.

The smoked chicken brine in this recipe helps solve this issue by adding extra moisture into the skin. The added moisture keeps the skin from getting rubbery while cooking. Keep in mind, this process won’t result in crispy skin. Rather, it keeps it tender with a great texture. If you want crisp skin, you can broil the chicken for just a few minutes at the end of the cooking process.

Chicken Brine for Smoking

I love a good brined chicken. Brining actually creates a change on the cellular level of your chicken where the cells are infused with additional moisture.

Most brines are simply water, salt, and sugar (if desired). I took this brine a step further and added original Tabasco sauce to bring a little extra zip and pizzazz to the overall flavor of the chicken. The brine comes together in just a few minutes, but it really does the most amazing things to chicken by adding flavor, tenderness, and moisture. This will probably be the juiciest chicken you’ll ever eat.

smoked chicken brined whole chicken on the grill.

Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Brine

This smoked chicken brine only requires 4 ingredients, and it’ll add moisture and amazing flavor to your whole chicken:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

That’s all folks! These 4 ingredients are all you need to assemble prior to preparing this chicken for the best brine and smoke of its life.

How to Brine a Chicken for Smoking

Once you have all your ingredients assembled for your smoked chicken brine, you’re ready to brine the chicken. Plan ahead, as this chicken will need to sit in the brine for a while.

Dissolve the brown sugar, Tabasco, and salt in the water. Next, submerge the chicken fully in the brine, place it in the refrigerator, and allow the chicken to brine for at least 8-12 hours (a good time to brine is overnight). It might be necessary to place a plate or other heavy item on the chicken to keep it submerged in the brine.

Once you’re ready to cook the chicken, simply remove it from the brine, pat, dry, and get to cooking! Scroll below to view the printable recipe card for full instructions on brining and smoking this chicken. I used my Camp Chef SmokePro for this chicken.

smoked chicken brined sliced chicken.

More Brine Recipes

Brining meat is a delicious way to prepare your food before it’s cooked on the grill or smoker. It’s also especially handy when smoking meat to keep the skin from becoming rubbery. Check out more amazing brine recipes from Hey Grill Hey below:

Rotisserie Chicken with a Buttermilk Brine
Cider Brined Pulled Pork
Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe

Smoked Chicken Brine Recipe

Follow the recipe below and let’s make something delicious! I’m all about helping you make better BBQ, feed the people you love, and become a BBQ hero. If you want to see more of my recipes, tips, and behind the scenes action, follow along on my social channels. You can find me on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube!

Whole Smoked Chicken with a Smoked Chicken Brine

By: Susie Bulloch (heygrillhey.com)
5 from 13 votes
This smoked chicken is prepped in a Smoked Chicken Brine. The brine is a homemade zesty Tabasco spiked brine that keeps the chicken incredibly juicy. It is so tender and flavorful, you’ll want to make extra to use in salads, soups, and dinners the whole week!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Brine Time12 hours
Total Time15 hours 10 minutes
Servings4 people


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  • 1 3-4 pound whole fryer chicken
  • 2 tablespoons Homemade BBQ Sweet Rub
  • 1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 yellow onion quartered
  • 1 lemon sliced

Smoked Chicken Brine

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Tabasco sauce
  • ½ cup Kosher salt


  • Brine the chicken. Make the chicken brine by dissolving the Tabasco sauce, kosher salt and brown sugar in 1 gallon of water. Once dissolved, submerge the chicken in the brine and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Weigh down your chicken with a plate, if necessary, to keep the whole bird submerged.
  • Fire up the smoker. When you’re ready to cook, preheat your smoker according to manufacturer’s instructions to 225 degrees F. I recommend mild hardwoods like maple or pecan with this chicken.
  • Prep the chicken. While the smoker is preheating, remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Rub with Tabasco sauce and season liberally with the BBQ seasoning. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with lemon, onion, and thyme. Tie the legs together.
  • Smoke the brined chicken. Place the brined and seasoned chicken in your smoker and smoke for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
  • Rest, slice and serve. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and allow the chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes. During this time the internal temperature of the chicken will continue to rise to a final temperature of 165 degrees F. Once it's at this final temp, slice the chicken and serve.


Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 163mg | Sodium: 240mg | Potassium: 489mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 329IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 2mg

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

Like this? Leave a comment below!

**This post was originally published October 2018. We recently updated it with more information and helpful tips. The recipe remains the same.

Whole Smoked Chicken



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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43 Reviews

  1. Kathy says:

    I plan to make this smoked chicken exactly the way you did it!
    My question is, did you put the rub on both sides of the chicken before putting it on the Smoker or just over the top as seen on your video? If I put it on both sides, will the bottom get burned from the brown sugar?

    Also, I saw you on BBQ Brawl and loved it – great job!

    1. Hey Grill Hey says:

      I would just season the top say ou won’t be flipping it.