When Spencer and I got married last November, a few of our family friends got together to buy us a smoker, something Spencer has been wanting for YEARS! At the time, we didn’t have a proper shed out in our backyard to protect it from the weather so it stayed at his parents house for nearly 6 months. We were finally able to lay some cement and get a shed a couple months ago, so Spencer has been smokin’ his way through ALL. THE. MEAT.
Chicken wings, pork ribs, salmon, chicken meatballs (recipe coming soon!), brisket, vegetables… you name it, he’s smoked it! And we’ve only had it for about 6 weeks, which is just fine by me! The smell of the smoker when he fires it up reminds me so much of camping when I was younger, and it brings back so many memories of my paternal grandparents, I want to wrap myself up in a blanket that’s been smoked for hours and snuggle up with a good book…. or a heaping plate of s’mores!
Once, when my family and I went camping in my junior year of High School, I refused to wash the jacket I wore most of the weekend and when I was in my English class the next day after our camping trip, one of the gals who sat at my table asked if anyone else smelled the beef jerky… I told her that was probably the leftover campfire on my jacket… oops! I definitely made sure to wash my clothes after a camping weekend from that point on, but it still makes me giggle every time I think of that conversation!
Anyway, by far the best meat Spencer has smoked is this recipe right here! A whole smoked chicken that’s been brined for several hours, then rubbed with our very own compound butter! A compound butter is basically just butter that’s been softened, had various spices and herbs added to it, and then re-solidified to be used however you wish. This particular compound butter contains Spencer’s secret rub… he’s not ready to share it just yet- it’s REALLY yummy and he’s very protective of it, so when you make this chicken, just use your favorite spice blend!
Whether you’re wanting to impress family at a holiday dinner or just want a fantastic pulled chicken sandwich in the middle of the summer, just follow this recipe and it’s sure to please!
The smoker lends a delicious savory flavor to the chicken while maintaining the natural juiciness of the meat itself- I mean, this is probably the JUICIEST chicken I have ever had. We pulled ours apart and meant to eat it with some barbecue sauce, but neither of us chose to use the sauce, it was THAT good! The brine and the butter definitely helped to keep the chicken juicy, but Spencer just has a way with cooking that I cannot even touch!
What You Will Need For the Brine
- A Whole Chicken
- Kosher Salt
- Brown Sugar
- Garlic Cloves
- Black Peppercorn
- Your favorite Rib Rub
- Tub of Ice (to chill the brine- if you choose not to use the ice, you’ll need to find another way to chill the brine)
For the Compound Butter
- The same rib rub you used above
Juicy Smoked Chicken
- Container or freezer bag big enough to hold the brine and chicken together. We used a 5 gallon bucket since we had one on hand.
For the Chicken Brine
- 1 whole Chicken
- 2.5 Quarts Water
- 1 Cup Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Brown Sugar
- 4 cloves Garlic (Smashed enough to release the oils)
- 2 Tbsp Rosemary
- 1 tsp Black Peppercorn
- 3 Tbsp Your Favorite Rib Rub
- 4 Bay Leaves
- Ice (enough to chill the brine, we used ice from our fridge dispenser)
For the Compound Butter
- 1 Stick (1/2 cup) Unsalted Butter
- As Much Rib Rub as your heart desires (you can see the photo of our compound butter above)
For the Chicken Brine
- Bring the water to a boil over high heat.
- Once boiling dissolve the sugar and salt.Take off heat and immediately mix in the remaining ingredients while still hot. This allows some of your spices and herbs to bloom!
- Add the ice to whatever container you will be using to brine and add the brining liquid. Stir and add your chicken. Chill for at least four hours or overnight if possible. We chilled ours for 16 hours in our very cold basement while periodically adding ice. Make sure the temperature never reaches the danger zone (keep it under 40 degrees Fahrenheit at all times!)
For the Compound Butter and
- Mix your rub with one stick of slightly softened unsalted butter, making sure you will be able to spread it all over the chicken (and even under the skin!)
- Remove the chicken from the brine. Pat dry and then slather your compound butter all over the entire chicken, making sure to get a little under the skin (pictured above) as well! To get under, just pull up the skin by the cavity of the chicken (or make a small cut) and you should be able to get your hand all up in there! Follow with your rib rub, making sure to get every nook and cranny!
- Transfer to your smoker and let the chicken reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit. We are able to adjust the temperature of our smoker, so if yours is able to do that, set it to 350. It took our chicken somewhere in the 3 - 4 hour range.
- Remove from the smoker and serve however you would like! We pulled the majority of the chicken apart, and left the wings and legs whole. Delicious!