Smoked Chicken with Herb and Chile Rubs

Hickory smoked chickens with two types of dry rubs |


It’s the time of year for grilling and smoking, long weekends, holidays, outdoor family gatherings and all those events that scream outdoor cooking. So in celebration of being able to cook outdoors it’s time to introduce Bobby’s smoking, new toy – a Pit Barrel Cooker.  For years he has used his gas grill as a smoker, but, even though the results have been great, the process is rather cumbersome.  The pit barrel cooker has simplified the setup, the cleanup, the overall process, and the results…fabulous.  It’s hard to say what I’ve enjoyed most – the pulled pork, pork ribs, or these smoked chickens.  Everything that comes out of the barrel is mouthwatering, but the herb smoked chicken is the epitome of smoked chicken.

After mentioning that his smoker could smoke 4 whole chickens as once, Bobby had no choice but to smoke some chickens.  He started with two whole chickens which he cut in half to hang in the smoker.  For one chicken we used a basic all purpose chile rub and for the second chicken, we made a herb rub (below) which was the winner by a long shot!  The flavors of the herb rub seemed to have penetrated the meat more than the chile rub, yielding a very herby, smoky chicken.  Next time, for the chile rub, we’ll try my New Mexico Red Chile Spice Blend. I’ve used it with grilled chicken before and I think it will be excellent on smoked chicken.

You don’t need a pit barrel smoker to make this chicken.  You can use any method you normally use to smoke meats; however, the timing might be different because your toys are different.  But the chicken prep and the temperatures should be the same.  After 4 hours of resting with the rubs and 1 ½ hours of smoking, we had two perfect chickens – tender, tasty and moist.

Below is the recipe for the Herb Dry Rub and the methods we used to prep and smoke the chickens.

(Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. We just really like the pit barrel cooker and wanted to share.)

A delicious hickory smoked chicken with an herb dry rub @mjskitchen


Herb Dry Rub Recipe for Smoked Chicken

This dry rub can be used for whole chickens, halves or pieces…roasting, grilling or smoking.

Recipe authors:  Bobby and MJ of MJ’s Kitchen
Inspired by the Simon & Garfunkel Spice Blend at Amazing Ribs

Makes a little more than 1/2 cup rub
Prep time:  15 minutes


1 Tbsp. crushed dried sage
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 Tbsp. dried crushed oregano
1 Tbsp. dried crushed tarragon
3 large dried crushed bay leaves
1 Tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1 scant Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar


  1. Place the crushed herbs in a spice grinder and pulse 3 – 4 times until herbs are blended and near powder form.
  2. Transfer to a small bowl and mix in the pepper, salt, and sugar.
  3. Lightly coat the poultry with oil.  Coat the chicken generously with the rub.


Smoked chicken with a spicy chile rub and a delectable herb rub #smoked #chicken @mjskitchen


Smoked Chicken Preparation and Process

Chickens seasoned with a spicy chile mix and a delectable herb blend, ready to be smoked. |

Prep the chicken at least 4 hours prior to smoking or overnight.

1 – 2 whole chickens
¼ – ½ cup dry rub

  1. Using kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides. Reserve for stock.
  2. Cut the chicken in half by cutting lengthwise through the center of the breastbone.  You can use the shears, a cleaver, or large knife.
  3. Wash and dry each half of the chicken.
  4. Coat both halves with a light layer of oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of rub onto all sides of the chicken.
  5. Transfer chicken halves to a covered container and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator 30 to 60 minutes prior to placing in the smoker.

Smoking the chicken

  1. For herb rub chicken, about an hour before starting the smoker, soak 6 – 8 long sprigs of rosemary in a bowl of water.
  2. Prepare your smoker according to instructions.
  3. Once the smoker is ready, place two 1″ – 2″ blocks of hickory on the coals of the smoker along with the drained rosemary (for herb rub chickens). (Other woods would work – apple, pecan, mesquite – your preference.)
  4. Inserting remote thermometer in chicken for smoking | mjskitchen.comPlace the chickens in the smoker according to your smoker’s instructions. If possible, insert a remote reading temperature probe in one of the chicken breasts.
  5. Cover the smoker and when its internal temperature reaches 250° F, start a timer. Smoke the chicken at a temperature of 250 – 275° F for 1 ½ – 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160° – 165º F.
  6. Once the chicken gets close to 160°F, prepare a gas or charcoal grill for high heat.*
  7. When the temperature for the chicken is reached, removed the chicken and place on the grill to crisp up the skin even more.  It only takes a minute or two per side.
  8. Serve and enjoy!!
Smoking chicken in a Pit Barrel Cooker |

Hang each chicken half

Smoking chicken in a pit barrel cooker |

Cover and smoke for 1 1/2 hours







After smoking the chicken, finish on the grill for a couple of minutes to crisp up the skin. |


*This last step is optional.  The chicken does come out of the smoker with somewhat crispy skin, but we like it really crispy.  So this last step on the grill was well worth it.





Kitchen Notes

Grilling the Chicken – The herb rub can be used on grilled chicken, roast chicken or smoked, whole chickens or chicken pieces.  It’s best to coat the chicken with a generous amount of rub 3 to 4 hours prior to cooking.

Freezing leftovers – These chickens freeze very well and remain tender and moist. Wrap each half in foil or parchment and seal in a freezer bag.  When ready to use, remove from the freezer and let thaw.

Using the leftovers – Eat the leftovers as whole pieces of chicken or remove from the bone and use in a soup, pasta dish or chicken salad.  Add to this Shredded Greens & Cukes Salad for a complete meal.

A great website for smoking/grilling techniques and ideas:  Amazing Ribs


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44 Responses to “Smoked Chicken with Herb and Chile Rubs”

  1. Anne@ASaladForAllSeasons June 16, 2016 at 12:03 pm #

    Wow, what a cool toy! I’ve never smoked anything, but I sure do enjoy the flavor. And with these rubs, you can just see how flavorful they must be. And I’m sure super moist! I’ll admit that I’ll probably never get a smoker, but I’ll be sure to try these rubs for my ordinary chicken bbq! : )

    • mj June 16, 2016 at 9:08 pm #

      Thanks so much Anne! Yes, the rubs work great for ordinary BBQ and the herb rub is amazing with roast chicken. Hope you give it a try.

  2. Vicki Bensinger June 15, 2016 at 8:09 pm #

    These look beautiful and sound so flavorful! I use to have a smoker but used it so much it finally wore out. Then I got a regular gas grill and never bought another smoker. On rare occasions I would rig one up in the house using foil pans. It tasted great but the house smelled awful. I finally stopped doing that. Now you make me wish I still had one. Smoked turkey’s were the best!

    • mj June 16, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks so much Vicki! For years my husband has used his gas grill as the smoker using foil pans. Since you have a gas grill, you might want to check out the Amazing Ribs website to learn how to use your grill as a smoker. And yes, smoked turkey is the best!!!! 🙂

  3. Pradipta June 7, 2016 at 5:46 am #

    Ohhh.. its great. I never tried such food at home. Now it seems that I can try this even at home. Thanks for sharing.

    • mj June 8, 2016 at 4:23 pm #

      Thanks! Love being able to get smoked meats at home!

  4. Asmita June 2, 2016 at 7:04 am #

    OMG! We are trying to eat healthy at home and this would be a big hit at my place. Looks so delicious!!

    • mj June 2, 2016 at 4:38 pm #

      Thanks Asmita! It is quite healthy and tasty at the same time. 🙂

  5. Liz May 31, 2016 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m going to have to try that herb rub! We can smoke on our Big Green Egg, but we haven’t yet. Till we figure that out, I bet it would be wonderful grilled 🙂

  6. Raymund May 31, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Ohh look at that, I bet it packs a lot of flavour after that smoking process. I would love to have this on its own, on a sandwich or even a pizza!

  7. Evelyne CulturEatz May 30, 2016 at 2:49 pm #

    Oh boy papa has got a new toy lol! You will be eating well this summer. I would love to try my hand at smoking. I just downsized bbq wise big time (to a portable camping one) so won’t happen any time soon. So when can I come over to try this fab recipe lol?

    • mj May 30, 2016 at 9:27 pm #

      You got that right!!! We are enjoying the hell out of this new toy. Last week chicken, this week brisket. So come on over Evelyne! It’s going to be a big brisket! 🙂

  8. April J Harris May 29, 2016 at 6:22 pm #

    Sounds scrumptious, MJ! What a great recipe – I’ve never used a smoker but I’ve heard great things about them. Thank you for sharing with us at the Hearth and Soul Hop.

    • mj May 30, 2016 at 9:21 pm #

      Thanks so much April! I’m always happy to share with Hearth and Soul. 🙂

  9. Karen (Back Road Journal) May 29, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    I can just imagine how good that chicken was. My husband and I used to have a smoker and really enjoyed the wonderful flavor of meats prepared on it. Now we only have a gas grill in our downsized life.

    • mj May 30, 2016 at 9:20 pm #

      Thanks so much Karen! We’re trying to downsize in other ways, but right now, it if has to do with food, it’s still a keeper. 🙂 We’re loving the smoker.

  10. Treat and Trick May 28, 2016 at 7:46 pm #

    Wonderful recipe! They look so good..

    • mj May 30, 2016 at 9:19 pm #

      Thanks Darlin!

  11. Katerina May 27, 2016 at 1:46 am #

    Summer is here already and I can’t think of anything more appropriate than these smoked chickens. Pinned!

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 12:00 pm #

      Thanks so much Katerina!

  12. Debra Eliotseats May 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm #

    We have a hibachi type smoker that The Hubs is in LOVE with. I can’t wait to try these rubs. Pinned.

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks Debra! We love out men and their toys. 🙂

  13. Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina May 26, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Wow, that smoking process is impressive! I’m sure that you two will get many years of delicious food enjoyment from it. And the rub recipe is fantastic! Even if I can’t ‘smoke’ foods worth a lick, I sure will enjoy this spicy rub!

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 11:59 am #

      Thanks so much Roz! yes, the herb rub is for more than just smoked chicken. I’m going to try it on baked eggplant soon. 🙂

  14. Sissi May 26, 2016 at 8:46 am #

    I really enjoy living in the city centre, at a walking distance from almost every shop, bar or restaurant… but there are some moments – such as reading your fascinating post – when when I dream of a house outside of the city. Having a real smoker or at least a grill is one of those things that I envy those who live in individual houses. This chicken looks really fantastic! You me me dream about smoked pork, cold meats, even maybe whole piglets too… Please share with us more of your husband’s experiments with the smoker!

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 11:51 am #

      You know…we’ve tossed around the idea of moving to a smaller place with no yard that is closer to restaurants and shops and such, but it usually ends up in the trash. 🙂 We LOVE having a yard!!! Especially now that we are both moving into full retirement this year. YAY! In fact, we just came in from planting some pepper plants, squash and herbs. Out 10 tomato plants are blooming like crazy, but nothing has set yet. Ok, I’ll shut up. 🙂 With all of Bobby’s outdoor cooking toys we need at least a large uncovered patio. He loves this time of year and so do I, so I get to sit out and watch him cook for a change. I’m ready for another smoked pork shoulder. That was pretty awesome!!!

  15. Viviane Bauquet Farre May 25, 2016 at 11:53 pm #

    Oh, that chicken looks amazing MJ! The barrel cooker looks like a great piece of kit, too. Happy grilling season 🙂

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      Thanks Viviane! I think Bobby is really going to enjoy this season and I benefit from his efforts. 🙂

  16. swathi May 25, 2016 at 10:50 am #

    That chicken is so flavorsome. Need to try it, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog, pinning and tweeting.

    • mj May 27, 2016 at 11:47 am #

      thanks so much Swathi! Happy Memorial Day weekend!

  17. A_Boleyn May 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    Gorgeous looking result. Wish someone would smoke some chicken for me. 🙂

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

      Thanks so much Ann! I’m sure Bobby would be happy to smoke a chicken for you. Come on by! 🙂

  18. John/Kitchen Riffs May 24, 2016 at 2:10 pm #

    You know, I was reading all about this Pit Barrel Smoker a few weeks ago! I use a Weber kettle grill when I smoke — kind of a kludge. You can do it, but it’s a lot of work. I was thinking of getting one of those Weber smokers when I read about this. This sounds tons better. Haven’t gotten one yet, and may not (the grill does work, just not so much fun). But I can never resist toys! 🙂 Anyway, great post (and recipe!) — thanks.

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 7:01 pm #

      Bobby went through the whole – should I or shouldn’t I? thing, but finally gave in because he just got tired of the process to smoke on hie Weber gas grill. Since the footprint of the smoker is so small, it was just perfect and the meat that has come out of it thus far has been about as close to perfection as it can get. Maybe one day you’ll break down. 🙂 Thanks!

  19. Tamara May 24, 2016 at 1:14 pm #

    Hi MJ! We have had a charcoal smoker for years, and recently got a kamado grill which works beautifully for smoking. I’ve always been disappointed in the chicken skin, so I love the idea of grilling to crisp the skin! Your rubs look fantastic!

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 6:59 pm #

      My BIL got a kamado grill and Bobby considered it, but went with the pit smoker instead. The trick with the grill to crispy up the skin he got from It works fabulously!

  20. Jan Cook May 24, 2016 at 12:34 pm #

    That looks so tasty, MJ! I’m sitting here imagining the aroma of smoked chicken! Enjoy the smoker, can’t wait to see what else you smoke in it!

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      The aroma is awesome! We drive our neighbors crazy. 🙂 Thanks!

  21. Deb|EastofEdenCooking May 24, 2016 at 12:30 pm #

    Wonderful timing! With Memorial Day weekend on the horizon this is a great summer, holiday recipe. The spice mix is so tantalizing!

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

      Thanks Deb! It was good timing wasn’t it. 🙂 I think he’s planning on making more chicken this weekend.

  22. Angie@Angie's Recipes May 24, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

    How fancy! I love that rub and I bet the chicken would taste just as fantastic baked in oven. Well, don’t even have a grill :-))

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 6:56 pm #

      Thanks Angie! Yes, the chicken with the herb run taste great roasted as well. I think the husband would go crazy if he didn’t have a grill.

  23. susan / the wimpy vegetarian May 24, 2016 at 11:47 am #

    This looks fantastic, MJ! Makes me want to run out an buy this smoker!!

    • mj May 24, 2016 at 6:55 pm #

      Thanks Susan! This weekend we’re going to try smoking some vegetables in it. It’s a fun toy and so versatile.

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