Mesquite Smoked Chicken

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Mesquite Smoked Chicken

Yields: servings


  • For the Dry Rub
  • tablespoons seasoned salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño powder or chipotle powder
  • For the Chicken
  • 3-3½ pounds chicken pieces (I used all thighs and drumsticks)
  • Mesquite wood chunks or chips, soaked in water at least 30 minutes before using
  • An instant-read thermometer.

My goal last summer was to learn how to grill on my charcoal grill. My goal this summer is to learn how to smoke using my same charcoal grill. So far I have been happy with the results. To date, I have smoked a country ham, a 9-pound beef brisket and now chicken! My friends on the smoking and grilling group have been very helpful with all of their tips and advice. Once I realized that smoking is like roasting in a low-temperature oven, it all made sense to me! The key is to maintain that low temperature between 225 and 235ºF on the grill. I am still experimenting with the different types of wood and chips available for smoking. For this smoked chicken recipe, I went with mesquite wood chunks. You only need a few pieces throughout the whole cooking time, otherwise it can be too strong.


Charcoal Grill Directions
  1. Rub chicken generously with dry rub mixture, transfer to plastic storage bags and chill overnight.
  2. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 to 35 minutes before cooking so it comes to room temperature.
  3. If using a charcoal grill, use a chimney fire starter with some crumbled newspaper to start fire, adding charcoal to the chimney. Transfer hot coals to the bottom of one side of grill. I leave the grates off on this side to have easy access to the fire and coals. When ready add the soaked wood chunks. When the fire begins to smoke, open the bottom vent, closest to the fire halfway and do the same for the vent on top on the cool side of grill. Close lid and wait until the temperature holds steady between 225 to 235ºF, add chicken to indirect heat or cooler side of the grill.
  4. It will cook for about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours more or less. Add more charcoal when needed to maintain temperature. You are looking for the internal temperature of the chicken to be around 170ºF. Turn and rotate the chicken throughout the cooking time. Keep the lid closed as much as possible during cooking time.
Gas Grill Directions
  1. These are the directions from Food Network. Preheat the grill to medium/high one one side, leave the burners off the other side.
  2. Place the smoker box on the grate over the flame. When the chips start smoking, reduce the heat to low, close the grill lid and heat to no higher than 250ºF.
  3. Position the food on the cooler side of grill (indirect heat). Close the lid and smoke as directed, adjusting the heat as needed.
  4. If you want to add barbeque sauce to the chicken, baste during the last 10 to 15 minutes and transfer to direct heat before removing from grill. Let chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.If you want to add barbeque sauce to the chicken, baste during the last 10 to 15 minutes and transfer to direct heat before removing from grill. Let chicken rest for a few minutes before serving.

Chef Notes

You can purchase an already made dry rub from the market and mix in a few of your favorite spices. I like to mix my own batch from spices I have on hand. I keep it stored in a cool, dark space and use it for all my grilled meats and vegetables .dry-rub We enjoyed this smoked chicken for a few different recipes. Makes a great smoky chicken salad, add in to stir fry with lots of vegetables, or great for a smoky chicken tortilla soup! smoked-chicken  

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