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


Recipe Summary

10 mins
4 hrs
2 hrs 10 mins
6 hrs 20 mins
2 whole chickens


Original recipe yields 12 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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

425 calories; protein 36.8g; carbohydrates 12.6g; fat 24.5g; cholesterol 113.2mg; sodium 19349.7mg. Full Nutrition