Brined Smoked Chicken

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Soak your birds in this brine for yummy smoked chicken. Well wrapped and refrigerated leftovers will keep for 3 to 5 days.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
4 hrs
Additional Time:
2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 20 mins
2 whole chickens


  • 1 gallon water

  • 1 ¼ pounds salt

  • cup white sugar

  • ¾ cup soy sauce

  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 (3 1/2) pound whole chickens

  • kitchen twine

  • ¼ cup olive oil


  1. Pour water into a large, non-aluminum container; add salt and sugar and stir to dissolve. Add soy sauce, tarragon, thyme, and pepper. Place chickens in the brine and weigh them down with a heavy plate so they stay submerged. Brine at room temperature for 2 hours, or in the refrigerator, 8 hours to overnight.

  2. Remove chickens from brine, wash, and pat dry. Reserve brine. Tie the legs together of each chicken using kitchen twine.

  3. Prepare a water smoker for cooking by preheating to 200 to 250 degrees F (93 to 120 degrees C). Fill the water pan with hot water and half of the reserved brine. Place chickens, breast side up, on the grill racks. Add wood chips according to manufacturer's directions. Cover.

  4. Smoke chickens until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 4 hours, brushing chickens with olive oil every 2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone, should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Remove from the smoker and let rest for 10 minutes. Carve and serve.

Cook's Note:

Add charcoal briquettes, wood, and water as needed during smoking.

Editor's Notes:

Always brine foods in a food-grade, nonreactive container such as a stainless steel or enameled stockpot, a brining bag, or a food-grade plastic bucket.

Nutrition data for this recipe includes the full amount of brine ingredients. The actual amount of brine consumed will vary.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

425 Calories
25g Fat
13g Carbs
37g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 425
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g 31%
Saturated Fat 6g 31%
Cholesterol 113mg 38%
Sodium 19350mg 841%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 37g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 47mg 4%
Iron 3mg 14%
Potassium 364mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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