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How to Get Crispy Skin on Smoked Chicken

How to Get Crispy Skin on Smoked Chicken

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Smoking any kind of meat has become more than just a trend, it has become a way of life. Cooking your food with smoke provides a different kind of flavor to it that no other way of cooking can really hope to match.

But there are some issues that can arise when it comes to smoking chicken that many people have been looking for solutions to. Getting the skin to be crispy is not an easy endeavor and has been something that many amateur chefs have been looking to perfect.

Low and Slow Won’t Work

With smoking, the general way to cook the meat involves using a lower temperature and allowing the meat to cook for a longer time. The idea is that the longer cook time allows for more flavor to be infused into the meat.

But that low and slow makes it more difficult to get that crispy skin that can make chicken really feel complete. It is getting that crispy skin while still infusing that smokey flavor where the challenge lay.

Some methods work better for some than others and one method may work better for you than it does for other people.

With the low and slow method, there is one possibility: remove the skin and serve it separately. This may seem like it defeats the purpose, but it can be a great way to get the crispy skin that you want without having to compromise the smoky flavor of the meat itself.

Crank up the Temperature

Big Green Egg in Backyard

With the low and slow technique, the temperature usually hovers in the low 200-degree range. Again, this is to allow more flavor to build in the chicken over a longer cook time. But wanting a crispier skin on your chicken means that something has to change.

There are some that will make an adjustment to the temperature during the cook time. So, for instance, they will begin by cooking at around 225 degrees or so and then crank it up to 300 degrees later into the cook.

By doing this, it allows for that smoky flavor to saturate the chicken, but the higher temperature allows for that crispier skin. The key is to determine just how long to go with the raised temperatures so that you get the smoky flavor without drying out the chicken itself.

Another school of thought is to just crank up the heat from the very beginning of the cook. You can control the time of the cook, bringing it down slightly so as to not overcook the chicken and leave it dry or burnt.

To combat this, using a more aggressive rub typically ends up being the solution. With a more aggressive, heavier rub, you infuse a greater concentration of those herbs and spices into your chicken without needing to smoke them for a much longer time period.

Moisture Is Important

Oberon Beer Chicken on The Big Green Egg

If you are using a wet rub or something like olive oil or vegetable oil, be conscious of the amount of moisture that you are implementing onto the chicken. There have been more than a few cases where using 300 to 325 temperatures were meant to crisp up the skin, but failed to do so.

The point of using those wet ingredients is much the same as the dry ones: to infuse flavor into the chicken during the smoking process. But the moisture on the skin of the chicken can make it difficult to really crisp up.

If you want to infuse the flavor of that wet mixture into the chicken, do it lightly at the beginning. It might take a little more effort, but slowly applying that wet mixture throughout the cook can help avoid that oversaturation while still infusing the flavor.

Another thing to try is to implement that wet mix toward the end of the cook. You can involve that flavor without compromising the crispiness of the skin, giving the chicken more flavor without making the skin rubbery or wet.

Ultimately, getting the crisp on the skin is important because that texture can really change the presentation and the enjoyability of the dish. If the chicken skin is not crispy, it can really hamper the way that the dish tastes.

There are so many different factors that can have an impact on the way that the chicken cooks. The ideal goal is to get the maximum amount of flavor and smoke while maintaining a crisp skin and providing moisture out of the chicken.

It is worth trying these methods to find the perfect cook that works for you. Everyone’s palette is different and finding that precise cook takes time and experimentation.

But getting the crispy skin on your smoked chicken is possible, it just takes some tinkering and testing to find the right possible combination.


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Paul Price

Saturday 14th of August 2021

I've had success smoking the bird until an internal temp around 145 and having my oven preheated to 375, I take out of smoker, slather it with garlic butter and directly into the oven uncovered, you can even hit it with the broiler for a few minutes but that requires constant monitoring. For chicken pieces like hindquarters I will sear them in oil like browning a roast prior to smoking.