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How to Get Crispy Skin on Smoked Chicken

How to Get Crispy Skin on Smoked Chicken

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Getting crispy skin for your smoked chicken can be super challenging. Most of your attempts will end up with undesirable rubbery skin. I know how frustrating that can be; I’ve been there before. 

However, achieving the desired crispy skin is simpler than you might think if you learn the tricks of the trade – and this is what you’ll do here.

In this post, I’ll share the few tricks I found most effective in crisping up the smoked chicken skin. Let’s jump right into it!

Why Is My Smoked Chicken Skin Not Crispy?

Probe And Add Spatchcock Chicken To Big Green Egg

Why Is My Smoked Chicken Skin Not Crispy?

Before speaking of the solution, let’s first understand the roots of the problem. Multiple reasons can cause your smoked chicken skin to be rubbery and steal its crispiness. 

The main culprit to this issue is the standard low and slow smoking method. This cooking approach involves using a low temperature, allowing the meat to cook longer. 

The idea is that the longer cooking time allows more flavor to be infused into the meat.

But here’s the issue: the low temperature in this method makes it more difficult to get that crispy skin that complements the chicken taste.

Besides this reason, other causes of rubbery skin include the following:

  • Wrapping the chicken in foil 
  • Using wet brining for seasoning
  • Not letting the bird completely dry before smoking

I’ll break down each of those issues in more detail in the next section and give you the best solution to them. 

How Do You Make Chicken Skin Super Crispy? 5 Simple Tips

Now, it’s time for the fixes. The following tips will help you achieve the perfect smoked chicken crispy skin: 

1. Crank Up the Temperature

Big Green Egg In Backyard

With the standard low and slow smoking technique, the temperature usually hovers in the low 200-degree range. As I discussed earlier, you can’t get a crispier skin on your chicken using this low temperature.

The ideal temperature to get crispy skin ranges between 275°F and 320°F. 

But here’s the problem: if you cook using these high temperatures, they’ll significantly shorten the cooking time. 

As such, this will likely cause the chicken to absorb much less smoke flavor. This is definitely something you don’t want to compromise on. 

So, here’s what I recommend: begin by cooking at a low temperature, around 225°F, for the first cooking hours. This allows the smoky flavor to saturate the chicken. 

Then, crank the temperature up to 300 degrees in the last hour of smoking to achieve the crispy texture you want.

2. Dry the Bird in the Fridge Before Smoking

Oberon Beer Chicken On The Big Green Egg

Smoking the chicken while it isn’t dry enough decreases the odds of ending up with crisp skin.

Place your chicken on your fridge rack for around an hour before smoking to ensure it is dry enough.

After an hour in the refrigerator, the bird should be ready to be smoked. 

3. Rub the Chicken Properly

Do you use a wet rub to season your chicken, like olive or vegetable oil? If so, pay close attention to the amount of moisture you put into the chicken. 

Excessive moisture makes it way harder to get a crispy chicken skin.

If you want to apply a wet rub on the chicken, do it lightly at the beginning of the cooking process. Still, be sure to pat the bird dry thoroughly before applying the rub. 

Alternatively, you can slowly apply that wet mixture throughout the cooking after the skin gains most of its crispness.

That said, the method that I personally prefer is to apply that wet mix toward the end of the cook. That way, you can infuse the delectable flavor without compromising any little degree of crispiness.

4. Don’t Soak the Bird in a Brine

Soaking your chicken in brine will cause the skin to be soft instead of crispy. As I mentioned earlier, you should avoid excessive moisture in your bird if you want to crisp up its skin. 

For this reason, you’ll need to replace brining your chicken with dry brining. To do so, apply the desired salt one day before smoking. 

This is more than enough time to bring the desired brine flavor to the bird. 

5. Avoid Foiling the Chicken

Unlike beef, wrapping your smoked chicken or other poultry meat in aluminum foil when smoking isn’t a wise idea.

If you do so, the foil will create a barrier that traps moisture. As such, the chicken will become softer, and the skin will get rubbery.

To achieve crispy skin, cook the chicken in the smoker without foil next time.

Final Thoughts

Getting the crispiest chicken skin is highly sought-after by most. The texture can really change the presentation and the enjoyment of the dish.

Try the methods mentioned above to find the perfect skin texture for you. Remember that everyone’s preference is different, and biting into a perfectly crisp chicken leg may take some time and experimentation.


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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.