Smoker Essentials: Chicken with Compound Butter

Andy Anderson !


If you have an electric smoker, this is an amazing recipe for smoking a whole chicken. The results are spicy, and oh so moist. I made three of these for my holiday houseguests that came in on Sunday, and the only thing left were the bones. Yummy.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.


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15 Min
3 Hr




  • 4 Tbsp
    sweet butter, unsalted, room temperature
  • 1 tsp
    ground cumin
  • 1 tsp
    dried onions, crushed to a powder
  • 1 tsp
    garlic powder
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/2 tsp
    white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp
    salt, kosher variety, fine grind
  • 1/4 tsp
    ground sage
  • 1/4 tsp
    ground cloves
  • 1 pinch
    cayenne pepper

  • 3 - 4 lb
    whole chicken
  • 1 c
    white grape juice
  • 1 c
    wood chips

How to Make Smoker Essentials: Chicken with Compound Butter


  2. If the only thing you have is salted butter, no worries. Use it, but leave out the 1/4 teaspoon salt, called for in the compound butter.
  3. The traditional liquid to use for chicken or turkey is apple juice; however, I like the depth of flavor that white grape juice brings to this recipe. If you do not have any juice, just use water.
  4. There has been a lot of discussion lately on whether you should wash a chicken or turkey before cooking. The talk goes something like this… The heat of the cooking process will kill any nasty bugs, and when you wash it, the water will splash all over the place contaminating your working area; bringing with it death, destruction, and the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

    Well, I suppose, if you are using a firehose to wash your bird, then I can understand why water is splashing all over the place. How about a gentle stream of water, washing the outside and the cavity?

    With that said, I wash my birds… I am such a rebel (without a cause).
  5. A note on the cooking times. At the listed temperature, it should take about 1 hour per pound. So, a three-pounder should take about 3 hours.
    The thing I want to mention is that in smoking, time is a relative thing (Einstein said that), and in the words of one of my teachers… it will be done, when it is done.
    What does that mean… Well, I just smoked three chicken that were all the same weight. The span of time between the first one hitting the target temperature, and the last one was 20 minutes. It will be done when it is done.
    The worst thing you can do, is to start second-guessing yourself:
    OH, it is taking too long, I better crank up the heat.
    OH, it is cooking too fast, I better turn down the heat.
    It will be done when it is done.
  6. The chips I am using are applewood, most any type of chips will do; except mesquite. I like the sweetness that applewood brings to the mix.
  7. Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  8. Preheat the smoker to 275f (135c).
  10. Add the spices to the softened butter.
  11. Mix together with a fork.
  13. Add the white grape juice to a cooking pan, fitted with a V rack.
  14. Chef’s Note: If you do not have a V rack, and you plan to put the chicken directly on the smoker grate, then have a pan under the chicken on a lower rack with the white grape juice.
  15. Remove the neck, and any giblets, and reserve for some other project, then give the bird a gentle bath, and pat dry with a few paper towels (inside and out).
  16. Using your fingers separate the skin of the chicken from the bird. Go under the breasts, and then break through the membrane separating the breast from the legs.
  17. Put half the compound butter under the skin of the bird, then rub the rest on the outside.
  18. Add the chicken to the preheated smoker and lower the temperature to 230f (110c). And do not forget to throw in about a cup of wood chips.
  19. Cook for about 1 hour per pound, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165f (75c).
  20. Tent for about ten minutes before carving. And, if you are feeling ambitious, you can take the white grape juice with the drippings from the chicken, and make a nice, sweet gravy.
  22. Serve with your favorite sides. Enjoy.
  23. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

Printable Recipe Card

About Smoker Essentials: Chicken with Compound Butter

Course/Dish: Chicken
Main Ingredient: Chicken
Regional Style: American

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