Smoked Whole Chicken on Weber Kettle Grill: Easy & Juicy Recipe

Cooking a whole chicken on a charcoal grill might seem hard, but it’s worth it. This way of cooking gives you a chicken that’s full of flavor, really juicy, and softer than any store-bought rotisserie chicken.

By using a charcoal grill to smoke the chicken slowly, it absorbs deep, delicious flavors throughout, just as backyard BBQ enthusiasts love.

I own a simple Weber kettle, choosing it over the more popular, feature-optimized models. It’s also a top choice among beginners.

I’ve cooked a lot of different recipes on my Weber Kettle grill, but smoking a whole chicken is one of the easiest recipes for me. It’s surprisingly simple to get this dish ready in just 2 hours.

Even if you’re new to grilling, this method makes it easy to cook a chicken that will impress your friends and family.

Prep A Whole Chicken

Preparing a whole chicken is simple but crucial before starting your charcoal grill. Here’s what you need to do.

  • Choose a chicken that is either fresh or has been thawed in the refrigerator. Then, place it on a cooking sheet or in a baking pan.
  • Look for any giblets and extra fat hanging around the openings of the chicken and trim them off with kitchen shears (scissors) or a knife. This step helps in reducing flare-ups when grilling.
  • Whenever I plan to smoke or roast chicken, I always aim to brine my chicken first. If you’re new to this and looking for a quicker option, you can skip this step, though it’s not mandatory. Brining ensures that your chicken turns out juicy, tender, moist, and well-seasoned. It’s recommended to brine the chicken in a solution of water and salt for up to 24 hours.
  • pat it dry with paper towels. It’s important to dry it well so the skin gets nice and crispy when it smokes. To make the seasoning stick to the chicken better, I rub cooking oil with a basting brush on it before seasoning. You can also use olive oil or spray oil.
  • Now, it’s time to season your chicken. You can use a simple mix of salt and pepper or get creative with your own blend of spices in a bowl. Rub your seasonings under the skin you loosened, inside the cavity, and all over the outside of the chicken. For an extra flavor boost, you might want to marinate the chicken or apply a dry rub at least an hour before smoking, or even overnight in the fridge.
  • Trussing (tying up) your chicken isn’t strictly necessary, but it helps the chicken cook evenly by keeping the wings and legs close to the body. Simply tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body.

brining of any meat

Smoke A Whole Chicken

After seasoning, it’s time to preheat the grill.

Lets ready the grill

  • On your grill, arrange the charcoal on one side of the grill only. That way, one side will be hot (direct heat) and the other side cooler (indirect heat).
  • Light the charcoal, you can also use a chimney starter to light up charcoal. 
  • For various smoky flavors, add wood chips over the charcoal. You can use the best smoky flavor chips from hardwoods such as cherry, apple, peach, pear, or pecan but not use Softwoods. Alternatively you can also use pellets or wood chunks over charcoal.
  • On the side of the grill without charcoal (the indirect heat zone), place a pan of water or a cup or two of cherry soda, apple juice. This helps maintain a stable temperature inside the grill and adds moisture to the air, keeping your chicken juicy.
  • Close the lid and let the grill preheat to about 250-275°F (120-135°C). This is the ideal temperature range for smoking chicken.
  • Open the grill’s lid vents halfway, then you’ll see smoke coming out from the top.

Once your charcoal grill is properly set up for smoking, it’s time to start the smoking process for your whole chicken. Here is what you need to do.


  • Place the prepared whole chicken on the grill grate breast side up over the indirect heat zone, away from the coals above the liquid mixture (Most of the people avoid using pan because it blocks smoke and as well make a lot of steam, you can also avoid it for the first time). 
  • Cook the chicken slowly to render down the fat and make the meat really juicy and full of smoky taste!
  • After 45 minutes of smoking, check the chicken and spray it with cooking oil or butter to crisp the skin.
  • To keep the chicken moist and add extra flavor, you can baste it with a marinade or sauce during the last 30-45 minutes of cooking. Repeat this process periodically until it’s cooked.
  • After two hours, check the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  • I use the Weber Connect Smart Grilling Hub to monitor temperature and get alerts on my phone. I’ll share how I used it for grilling a turkey on another Weber model.

Once done, remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for about 10-20 minutes before carving and serving. Resting the bird allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, making it juicier and more flavorful when you cut into it.

How Long To Smoke A Whole Chicken

The smoking time depends on how much your chicken weighs. Generally, you’ll need about 30 to 45 minutes for each pound of chicken.

If you have a chicken that weighs 4 pounds, you’re looking at about 2 to 3 hours of smoking time.

Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken is ready. It’s done when the thickest part of the chicken, like the thigh or breast, reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) without touching the bone.

If chicken skin is browning too quickly but the internal temperature low, you can loosely tent the chicken with a piece of aluminum foil. This shields the chicken from direct heat and slows down the browning process.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

As a beginner, I made lots of mistakes smoking chicken on charcoal smokers and grills, but I’ve learned from them over time. So, if you’re new like I was, try to avoid the mistakes I made at the start.

  • Placing the chicken directly over the coals can cause parts of the chicken to overcook or even burn while other parts remain undercooked. Always use an indirect heat setup for even cooking.
  • Frequently opening the grill lid to check on the chicken lets heat and smoke escape, leading to longer cooking times and less smoke flavor. Keep the lid closed as much as possible.
  • Adding too much wood can overpower the natural flavors of the chicken with too much smoke. Use wood sparingly and choose the type of wood that complements poultry, like apple or cherry, for a more subtle smoke flavor.

By steering clear of these mistakes, you’re more likely to achieve a perfectly smoked whole chicken that’s juicy, flavorful, and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.