Smoked Rotisserie Chicken: Complete How-to Plus Amazing Recipe

November 22, 2023
Written by John Smits

If you've got a rotisserie spit, making a rotisserie chicken is easy and ridiculously tasty. Dry brine the chicken 3 hours before cooking, fire up that grill to around 325°F, and smoke for around an hour until the breast hits 160°F internal temperature. Chicken ecstasy awaits you.

I'm a sucker for rotisserie smoked chicken. It's my favorite method to smoke chicken. The crackling skin and moist meat make rotisserie chicken low-key one of the best (and easiest) things you can cook on your grill. I've smoked chicken more times than I can count. I'll walk you through the whole process. I'm even dropping my go-to recipe - lucky you!

Ready to transform a whole chicken into the best thing your friends and family have ever had for dinner? Let's go!

smoked rotisserie chicken

You'll Need a Rotisserie Attachment

If you're lucky, your grill shipped with a rotisserie attachment. You're all set up to make smoked rotisserie chickens. Most models can hold two chickens. It used to be more common for a gas grill to come with a spit. Manufacturers are looking to cut costs, and grills that ship with a spit rod are now almost unheard of. 

If you're not so lucky, you'll need to buy a rotisserie attachment. Some manufacturers make their own. If you've got a Weber Genesis gas grill, this attachment is made by Weber and should do the trick. If you've got a 22" Weber kettle, this rotisserie spit is made by the company to fit a Weber charcoal grill.

Search on Amazon according to your make and model of charcoal grill or smoker to find a rotisserie spit that works for your setup. There are aftermarket rotisserie spits available for almost every grill, including some universal models.

How to Use a Rotisserie Spit Rod?

Unless your rotisserie is battery-powered (yes, they exist), you'll need to plug it in. Grab an extension cord - you don't want your grill too close to the house. It's a fire hazard. I've also seen melted vinyl siding from grills that were parked right next to homes.

Prep your whole chicken. I'll go over full chicken prep instructions later, as well as how to set up common grills. 

You'll want to truss the chicken by tying the drumsticks together with butcher's twine. This trussing will keep them from flopping as the spit rotates. The twine will also ensure the drumsticks don't fall off when they are tender and nearly done cooking.

The rod should go through the chicken cavity. Either end of the rotisserie spit will have prongs on them. Insert the rotisserie forks or prongs into the meatiest part of the chicken breasts and the chicken thighs or drumsticks. 

The rotisserie will either have brackets that sit right on your cooking grate or a ring that holds the whole contraption together. Mount your rotisserie to your grill. Make sure the chicken is secure.

Connect the rotisserie and turn on the power. If it's spinning, you're good to go!

Rotisserie Chicken on the Grill

Smoked Rotisserie Chicken Recipe

Ready for a smoked whole chicken that just might break the internet? I'm talking about a bird with amazing flavor that's incredibly juicy. You better believe it's pull-apart tender. Leftovers are perfect for sandwiches, topped with some of your favorite BBQ sauce or chicken sauce. I'm partial to Alabama white chicken sauce. I've included the recipe later in the post.

Rotisserie chicken is perfect for weeknights. It's affordable. It's dang tasty. Smoked rotisserie chicken looks beautiful when plated up, and the chicken skin crisps up and tastes delish. It takes an hour or so to cook, but most of that time is hands-off. The grill and the rotisserie do all the hard work for you. So good!

I like to roast the whole chicken over a disposable aluminum tray full of veggies. The juices from the bird collect in the tray. Firm veggies work best, like squash, potatoes, and carrots. Mix in some aromatic veggies like onions and garlic. When it's done cooking, you've got a full meal - just add some crusty bread.

Feeds: 4

Dry brine time: 1 to 3 hours (Dry brining is optional. You'll have a great dinner either way with this whole chicken recipe. If I've got the time, I brine.)

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, approximately

Recommended wood chunks: Hickory, oak, apple, pecan, or cherry (Skip mesquite. It's too powerful for the chicken recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) whole chicken
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 russet potatoes, unpeeled
  • 2 white or yellow onions
  • 6 whole garlic cloves (Not garlic powder. Real garlic.)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup chardonnay or other white wine. Chicken broth is a dandy substitute.
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt per pound of chicken or 1/4 teaspoon of table salt (if your dry rub has salt in it, then use your dry rub as a dry brine - ditch the Kosher salt.)
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite dry rub. I like Meat Church rubs and Killer Hogs AP seasoning (as well as their other products).

Smoked Whole Rotisserie Chicken Steps

  1. Prepare the chicken. Drain the juices into your aluminum pan. If there are giblets and a neck, add them to the pan if desired. Snip off the wing tips and toss them in the pan, too. Roughly chop the veggies into bite-size pieces and throw them in the pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables. Add in the wine or broth. The liquid should be around 1/4" deep. Stick the whole thing in the fridge.
  2. Dry brine the whole chicken. First, I pat the chicken dry using paper towels. Pat dry the chicken cavity with paper towels, too. Next, sprinkle the Kosher salt and BBQ rub on the chicken, making sure to cover the whole chicken. Truss the chicken by tying the drumsticks together with butcher's twine to hold them in place.
    I cover the wings in aluminum foil so they don't burn. They're small and close to the heat source.
    Stick the chicken in the fridge, uncovered, for 1 to 3 hours. Again, if you don't have time to dry brine, don't sweat it.
  3. Fire up your grill or smoker. Set up for cooking over indirect heat. Toss some wood chips or chunks on the coals. Mount the chicken to the rotisserie, and turn on the rotisserie motor. The chicken should start rotating. 

If your rotisserie has a counterweight, set it up appropriately so the chicken rotates without wobbling. The pan with the veggies is also your drip pan for this cook. Place it underneath the smoking chicken. 

  1. Smoke chicken. Place the chicken on the grill. Monitor the cooker temperature, keeping it around 325°F. 
  2. Turn the veggies occasionally with a spatula. They're done when they are brown all over and tender enough to pierce easily with a toothpick or fork. Add liquid if needed. If the veggies finish cooking first, remove them from the heat, and sprinkle some BBQ rub on them. Cover in aluminum foil and stick the pan in a warm oven.
  3. Remove chicken. It's done cooking when the internal temperature of the chicken breasts is 160°F. Carefully remove the chicken using pot holders or wear heat-resistant gloves to remove the whole smoked chicken from the spit. It's one hot bird. 
  4. Cut, plate, and serve. Quarter the rotisserie smoked chicken on a cutting board with a sharp knife. Pile some veggies on a serving plate. Transfer the chicken from the cutting board. Place the chicken on top or to the side. You can garnish with fresh thyme if you've got some.
    Note: No need to rest the smoked rotisserie chicken. The skin gets mushy and soggy if you wait. I want my skin as crispy as possible!
Homemade Rotisserie Chicken on the Slate Board

Storage Instructions for Leftover Smoked Rotisserie Chicken

Leftovers should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge, where they'll remain fresh for up to 3 to 4 days. This time applies to all cuts: chicken breasts, thighs, wings, and legs.

Any leftover chicken that you can't eat in that timeframe should be stored in the freezer. Frozen food is safe to eat indefinitely but is best within 4 months.

But if you've got a family of four, I'm guessing you won't have any leftovers. This recipe is too darn good.

Alabama White Sauce Recipe for Smoked Rotisserie Chicken

Ready to take that smoked chicken to a whole other level? My Alabama white sauce recipe will make your rotisserie chicken nuclear. The sugar adds a touch of sweetness, while the chipotle powder packs a hint of smoke and heat. The creamy mayo rounds out the party with savory and fatty deliciousness. Here we go:

Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (I use Dukes. Blue Plate is also delicious.)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (Sriracha and Cholula are my go-to’s.)
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice or pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (You can substitute cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. The chipotle powder packs a punch - use less if you're sensitive to spicy foods.)

Instructions

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl with a whisk. Store in the refrigerator until the smoked whole chicken is done cooking. Set the bowl out when you serve the smoked rotisserie chicken, and dredge pieces through the sauce. The chicken breasts, in particular, taste absolutely spectacular when dunked in the creamy white sauce.

Setting Up Your Grill or Smoker for Rotisserie Chicken

You'll need to set up your grill for indirect grilling when making a smoked whole chicken, if possible. We're cooking that smoked whole chicken low and slow at a temp of 325°F. Use an instant-read thermometer and cook until the interior of the chicken breast hits 160°F. Here's how to do it for common backyard cookers.

Gas Grills

Turn the burners to low. If your grill is big enough, you can try using only the outside burners. If not, you'll be cooking the rotisserie chicken over low direct heat. Add a foil pouch with wood chunks to a burner.

Charcoal Grills

Light some charcoal, then pile the hot coals on either side of the grill. Throw some wood on them, put the cooking grate on, then place your chicken on the spit. You're ready!

Pellet Grill

You're already set up for indirect grilling. Put the rotisserie chicken on the spit and in the smoker, and you're ready to go.

Bullet or Barrel

Start a fire and cook as normal. Technically this is direct cooking, as the smoked rotisserie chicken is suspended above the flames. But it's so high up it's more like low and slow indirect cooking. 

Kamado Grills

If you're trusting up that chicken for a kamado grill, you'll need to place a heat deflector over the coals. Toss a handful of your favorite smoking wood (I prefer chunk) on the charcoal, too. Set down your cooking grate, put the rotisserie chicken on there, switch it on, and you're good to go!

Roasted Chickens on Rotisserie Spit Rod

Mix Up Your Seasoning

You can make smoked rotisserie chicken with minimal ingredients. Salt and pepper, mixed with the rich smoky flavor, are all you need. I like freshly cracked black peppercorns. When freshly cracked, black peppercorns have a far superior flavor to the pre-ground stuff that comes out of a jar.

Baste the chicken with melted butter or another fat, like olive oil, if you want to amp up the flavor of the skin. Serve with some fresh herbs, like rosemary, thyme, or oregano, for a pop of green color.

What to Serve with Rotisserie Chicken?

Ah, my favorite topic: sides! Figure out how many people you'll be serving, then grab recipes for the appropriate amount of sides.

There are so many options, I don't think you can go wrong. I wouldn't say no to a fresh garden salad packed with your favorite greens, radishes, and raw onion.

I always recommend eating what's in season. For starters, it's the cheapest. It'll also be the freshest. Fresh food always tastes better. Head down to your local farmers market and load up on beans, corn, winter root vegetables, or whatever they've got. 

Heavier sides, like mashed potatoes (make a gravy from the smoked chicken drippings and you'll think you're in heaven) or baked potatoes, work well, too. Mac and cheese or biscuits and gravy are other heartier options loaded with flavor for you.

For a carb, serve the chicken over rice. Or stick it between some good bread or a brioche bun for the best sandwich you ever tasted.

What to Make With Leftover Chicken?

Again, the sky is the limit here. Toss some in a stir fry for a kick of smoky flavor. It's great in soups and stews. It's absolutely killer Mexican food like tacos or tortas. It's even good when used in Italian cooking. Toss some in a white chicken lasagna, and it might change your life.

Delicious Chicken Mushroom Spinach Lasagna

Can You Smoke a Store-Bought Rotisserie Chicken?

Technically, yes, although it's not something I'd recommend. Store-bought rotisserie chicken has already been fully cooked. In fact, it's probably been overcooked. Smoke it again, and you'll transform that chicken into sawdust. No amount of mayo or BBQ sauce will make that chicken taste palatable, I promise.

Wrapping It Up

I hope you enjoy this chicken dish as much as I do. Forget about beer-can chicken or other ways of preparing smoked chicken. You'll love the crisp skin and incredible moisture of my rotisserie chicken recipe, I promise. Set up your cooker, throw some wood on the charcoals, switch on the rotisserie, and watch as the chicken cooks for around an hour at 325°F. It's done when the chicken breast reads 160°F internally.

This helpful guide has armed you with all the tools you need to make a low and slow chicken that's absolutely delicious. The rotisserie chicken method is an easy way to make fantastically tasty chicken. I'd absolutely recommend you grab a rotisserie. Advantages like ultra-crisp skin and juicy meat make the purchase a no-brainer for me. Cheers and happy grilling.

By John Smits
John bought his first home in 2012 and bought his first grill shortly afterward: the ubiquitous Weber kettle grill. He’s been hooked since the first time he fired up some coals. Now, after over a decade spent making countless delicious meals, John is a passionate advocate for live-fire cooking.
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