Inside: Learn how to make a perfectly juicy smoked whole chicken marinated in an authentic Mexican chile salsa and smoked on a wood pellet grill using Kingsford’s 100% Hardwood Pellets!
This post is sponsored by Kingsford’s. All opinions are my own.
Most of you know that I grew up in Mexico, and my main culinary influence was watching my abuelita cook delicious food for the whole family. I always looked forward to spending time with her in the kitchen, trying out new flavors and admiring how adept she was at making things taste good!
She was always so patient with me and taught me all of her tricks. I am so grateful for everything she taught me, and I am so happy that I have the chance to share her legacy with my family and with all of you through my recipes.
Where I grew up, we raised hundreds of chickens. I used to help collect the eggs every day and it was so fun. Needless to say, we also had a lot of meals that included chicken as the main protein. There were so many ways that we prepared it, including in enchiladas, on chilaquiles, on tostadas and more. On many occasions, we would also cook the chicken whole either in the oven or over a wood fire. I always looked forward to meals when we were eating the whole chicken, and my abuela taught me how to make an absolutely delicious marinade that gives the chicken so much flavor.
Today, I am going to share that marinade with you and also how to smoke it on a wood pellet grill using Kingsford’s 100% Hardwood Pellets. A couple of years ago my husband and I purchased our first wood pellet grill. Up to that point, we had only used gas grills, so we were new to the wood pellet smoking scene. That said, we fell in love right away and started using it to smoke delicious meat like brisket, ribs, pork and more.
While I loved watching my grandpa cook the chicken over a fire, it was definitely not easy to regulate the temperature and so it took a lot longer. Wood pellets grills make it so much easier and they are versatile enough that you can make a main dish, a side dish, and even desserts on it.
What Do You Need to Smoke a Whole Chicken?
In order to smoke a whole chicken, I recommend getting a wood pellet grill. The concept is simple – wood pellet grills have a hopper where you add the hardwood pellets, which are then automatically fed into a firepot in order to generate the heat and smoke that will be used to cook the ingredients of choice. Wood pellet grills are advanced enough today that you can set the temperature on the digital screens and you can be certain that the temperature will be pretty accurate.
Having a wood pellet grill, however, isn’t enough to make sure you get a tasty smoked flavor. You also want to make sure that you buy high-quality hardwood pellets. There are some brands that include lots of fillers such as oil, so you are not getting 100% hardwood. Fortunately, Kingsford’s new 100% hardwood pellets have no fillers, preservatives or binders, which is important to me and my family. When I found out about these pellets, I had to give them a try and I am glad that I did. They work in any pellet grill, so you don’t have to have a specific brand to use these hardwood pellets.
I ended up going with Kingsford’s Signature variety, which includes a blend of cherry, hickory and maple hardwoods. As soon as I fired up the grill, I could tell this was a good option. The smoke smelled great and the end product definitely had an amazing smoky flavor to complement the flavors from the marinade.
Aside from the wood pellet grill and the wood pellets, you will of course need the whole chicken, and the ingredients for the marinade shown in the recipe below.
How Do You Smoke A Whole Chicken?
For this smoked whole chicken, I started by marinating the chicken in a tasty blend of dried chiles, vegetables, and spices. I let it marinate over night and about three hours before we planned on eating, my husband fired up the wood pellet grill and set it at 300 degrees. Once the grill reached the temperature, we placed the whole chicken (along with a breast since we were cooking for some family as well) on the grill and placed the built-in probe in the thickest part of the breast and closed the lid.
After that, we monitored the temperature until it reached 165 degrees. We used a “young chicken” so it only took about 2 hours. If you use a full-size chicken, it will likely take closer to 3 – 3.5 hours, so plan accordingly.
At 165 degrees we pulled the chicken from the grill and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes before we sliced it and served it with some tasty sides.
The flavors in this smoked chicken brought me back to my childhood in Mexico and I was happy to share it with some family members that came over for dinner. The chicken was so delicious and there was nothing left when we were done!
Let me know in the comments below about your favorite smoked recipes and how this one turned out for you!
Mexican Style Smoked Whole Chicken
- 1 Whole Young Chicken
- 2 Ancho Chiles
- 2 Guajillo Peppers
- 1 Tomato
- 1/4 White Onion
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 4 Peppercorns
- 1 Clove
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1/2 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Tbsp Oregano
- 1 Tbsp Thyme
- 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
- 1/2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 Cup Orange Juice
- 1/8 Cup White Vinegar
- 1/2 Stick of Butter
- 2 Tbsp Mayonnaise
- 2 Tbsp Mustard
- Salt to taste
- Remove the seeds from the the dry Ancho Chiles and Guajillo Peppers and then boil for 10 minutes in water. Strain and set aside.
- Saute the chiles from the first step with the tomato, onion, garlic, peppercorns, clove, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, oregano and thyme in a frying pan with a small amount of oil for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the ingredients from the previous step to a blender with the cumin, paprika, orange juice, vinegar and salt and blend until it is as smooth as possible. Set aside
- In a large bowl that is big enough for the whole chicken to fit, coat the chicken with butter, mayonnaise, mustard and salt.
- Add the marinade and make sure the inside and outside of the chicken is completely covered.
- Let it marinate for at least 3 hours, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
- Preheat wood pellet grill to 300 degrees F. Add the chicken, breast side up and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Remove from the grill, and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.