Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken {Using Brine & Mesquite Wood

Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken {Using Brine & Mesquite Wood

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If you think supermarket rotisserie chicken is good, it ain’t got nothing on this brined rotisserie-smoked chicken smoked over mesquite wood. Smoky, tender and so incredibly juicy, this recipe will guide you through to cook one of the best chickens you will ever pull from your grill. 

We recently purchased a 22-inch Weber Rotisserie for the Weber Performer. We’ve only just begun to spin meat on this thing, but this rotisserie-smoked chicken is well worth documenting to share with you.

rotisserie-smoked chicken resting on carving board

While this recipe is specific for a charcoal grill with rotisserie only, you could probably use the same method with a whole chicken on a rack using whatever type of smoker you have. The only thing is the bird won’t baste itself in its own juices as it does on a rotisserie.

This is the perfect recipe for a lazy Sunday hanging out in the backyard or a well-planned holiday gathering. 

Let’s make a rotisserie-smoked chicken!

What You’ll Love About This Recipe:

  1. Affordable: Whole chicken is one of the cheapest ways to purchase chicken. Take advantage of store sales, and you can easily feed 4 to 6 people for very few of your hard-earned dollars.
  2. Minimal Ingredients: Cooked low and slow, we were amazed by how tender and juicy this bird was. Not only that, but the flavor was out of this world, especially given the fact that we didn’t use a lot of ingredients. Only brine and mesquite wood for flavor. No rub necessary!
  3. Easy to Cook: With the grill set up using the “snake” or “fuse” charcoal and wood configuration, the chicken practically cooks itself. 
raw chicken spinning on rotisserie with mountain view

How To Make Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken

Equipment and Supplies:

The Chicken Brine

Brining is a sure shot easy way to infuse some major flavor and moisture into your bird all the way down to the bone. This chicken brine is a savory, yet flavorful brine that will make the juiciest most delicious smoked chicken you’ve ever tasted. 

The Brine Ingredients:

Herbs and Spices: Black peppercorns, a bay leaf along with fresh thyme, and rosemary make up the aromatics of this brine and give this chicken amazing flavor without competing with the mesquite smoke.

Brine Solution: It is not a brine mixture without two main ingredients: salt and water. All other items are negotiable, but you have to have these two elements to make a brine.

Prepare the Brine Solution:

  1. Mix the brine ingredients all together. Stir well, to dissolve all of the salt. This will take a minute or two of stirring.
  2. Place the whole chicken inside a plastic Briner Bucket, zip-top bag, or plastic container.
  3. Pour the brine solution over the chicken, making sure there is enough solution to cover the entire bird. Lock the lid of the briner bucket into place and place the lid on. Alternatively, seal the bag allowing as much air to escape as possible. 
  4. Brine for 12 hours or overnight.

Tips for Brining:

  • Mix the brine ingredients in a clear bowl so you can make sure all of the salt dissolves before adding the chicken. 
  • If you do a lot of brining, we highly recommend investing in a Briner Bucket. You can learn more about them HERE.

Fire Up the Grill and Prepare for Rotisserie

Prepare the grill for indirect heat. For long cooks, David loves using the snake method (also known as the fuse method) when using the Weber kettle. It’s easy to control and practically maintains a consistent heat without having to tend the grill.

To cook using the snake method lay a chain of charcoal in a half-circle along the outer edge of the grill. There should be 3 layers with 2 charcoals on the bottom with one charcoal on top. Place a chunk of mesquite wood every few inches along the top of the “snake”.

Turn the charcoal chimney upside down and light only a small handful of charcoal. When the charcoals are hot, you just drop the lit coals onto one end of the “snake” to start the cook.

(Watch the video near the end of this post for a brief demonstration on how to set up the grill using the snake method).

Note: The brine solution and mesquite complement each other very well, but feel free to use whatever wood you like.

raw whole chicken on spit

Drain the Chicken

While the grill is heating up, prepare the chicken for smoking. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Turn the brine out into the sink and collect the garlic and herbs, placing them back inside the cavity of the chicken.

Truss the Chicken

Trussing the chicken will help retain its shape and will keep it from flopping all over the place while turning the rotisserie.

Truss the chicken with butcher’s twine. The following video will show you the method David used to truss the chicken:

Place the Chicken on the Spit

Place the spit through the chicken.  Make sure that the chicken is secured as close to the center as possible. This will allow the spit to turn smoothly and will not tax the motor on the rotisserie. 

Once you have it centered clamp the chicken down and try to turn it by hand to get a feel for how it will spin on the rotisserie. 

chicken on rotisserie

Smoke the Chicken

Place the hot coals at the beginning of the “snake”. Then secure the spit on the rotisserie, flip the switch! Watch the chicken twirl a few times to ensure it’s secure and rotates smoothly. Put the lid on and start smoking!

Low and Slow…

About 1 ½ hours into the smoke, remove the lid and check on the chicken. Take a look at the color and make any adjustments needed to the coals and wood at this time. Place the lid back on and keep on cooking.

instant-read thermometer checking temperature

Temperature Vs. Time

The chicken is done when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees within the breast area and about 170 degrees within the thighs (thickest parts). Most pitmasters will pull the chicken off about 160 and expect carry-over heat to finish taking it up to the ideal done temperature. We tend to pull ours off at 170 to ensure it’s done all the way through and so tender it nearly falls apart.

As always, it is most important to cook by temperature than it is by time. We found that smoking a chicken between 225 and 250 degrees F will take about 1 hour per pound. You can crank the heat up a bit and the chicken will cook faster, but it probably won’t’ be as tender and juicy.

At about 2 ½ hours in, remove the lid and stop the rotisserie. Use an instant-read thermometer to take the temperature reading from the breast and the thigh area. This will give you an idea of how much more time is needed to cook the chicken.

rotisserie-smoked chicken on grill

Baste the Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken

Basting with butter will help crisp up the skin a little but doesn’t crisp it up a lot. If you really want to crisp up the skin, increase the heat at the end and monitor the chicken closely!

During the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking, melt about ½ stick of butter in a small saucepan. 

Baste the chicken with butter every 10 minutes or so.

Caution: Be careful not to spatter too much butter onto the coals as the butter will cause them to flame up.

chicken resting on carving board

Remove the Smoked Chicken and Allow It To Rest

All the spinning and cooking has made this chicken tired. Turn off the rotisserie and carefully remove the chicken from the grill. Remember that spit is hot so wear grilling gloves to protect your hands. 

Place the chicken onto a cutting board. Remove the spit and forks from the chicken. Tent loosely with foil and allow the chicken to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

juice dripping from chicken

Carve and Serve the Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken!

Use poultry shears to cut up the smoked chicken for serving. 

Watch Our Video On How To Make Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken:

juicy dripping chicken leg

What To Serve With Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken

Serve with a nice glass of rosé, chardonnay, or a tall glass of ice-cold beer along with one of the following side dishes:

If you invest in a Weber rotisserie, stay tuned! We will do our best to bring you more recipes like this one.

As always, rate this recipe and make comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

rotisserie-smoked chicken
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Rotisserie-Smoked Chicken {Using Brine & Mesquite Wood

Supermarket rotisserie chicken is good, but it ain’t got nothing on this brined rotisserie-smoked chicken smoked over mesquite.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Barbecue
Keyword Rotisserie Chicken, smoked, whole chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 647kcal

Ingredients

  • 5-6 pound whole roasting chicken
  • Brine Solution recipe to follow
  • ½ to 1 stick unsalted butter melted

The Brine Solution:

  • 2 ½ tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head of garlic broken down into individual cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 ½ cups Kosher salt
  • 1 ½ quarts water (12 cups)

Instructions

Brine the Chicken:

  • Mix all of the ingredients of the brine solution together. Stir well, until all of the salt has dissolved. This will take a minute or two of stirring.
  • Place the whole chicken inside a plastic Briner Bucket, zip-top bag, or plastic container.
  • Pour the brine solution over the chicken, making sure there is enough solution to cover the entire bird. Lock the lid of the briner bucket into place and place the lid on. Alternatively, seal the bag allowing as much air to escape as possible.
  • Brine for 12 hours or overnight.

Fire Up the Grill and Prepare for Rotisserie:

  • Prepare the grill for indirect heat. For long cooks, David loves using the snake method (also known as the fuse method) for longer cooks on the Weber kettle. It’s easy to control and practically maintains itself with a consistent heat without having to tend the grill.
  • To cook using the snake method lay a chain of charcoal in a half-circle along the outer edge of the grill. There should be 3 layers with 2 charcoals on the bottom with one charcoal on top. Place a chunk of mesquite wood every few inches along the top of the “snake”.
  • Turn the charcoal chimney upside down and light only a small handful of charcoal. When the charcoals are hot, drop them onto one end of the “snake” to start the cook.

Drain the Chicken:

  • While the grill is heating up, prepare the chicken for smoking. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Turn the brine out into the sink and collect the garlic and herbs, placing them back inside the cavity of the chicken.

Truss the Chicken:

  • Trussing the chicken will help retain its shape and will keep it from flopping all over the place while turning the rotisserie.
  • Truss the chicken with butcher’s twine. (see video for demonstration)

Place the Chicken on the Spit:

  • Place the spit through the chicken. Make sure that the chicken is secured as close to the center as possible. This will allow the spit to turn smoothly and will not tax the motor on the rotisserie.
  • Once you have it centered clamp the chicken down and try to turn it by hand to get a feel for how it will spin on the rotisserie.

Smoke the Chicken:

  • Place the hot coals at the beginning of the “snake”. Then secure the spit on the rotisserie, flip the switch! Watch the chicken twirl a few times to ensure it’s secure and rotates smoothly. Put the lid on and start smoking!

Low and Slow…

  • About 1 ½ hours into the smoke, remove the lid and check on the chicken. Take a look at the color and make any adjustments needed to the coals and wood at this time. Place the lid back on and keep on cooking.
  • The chicken is done when the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees within the breast area and about 170 degrees within the thighs (thickest parts). Most pitmasters will pull the chicken off about 160 and expect carry-over heat to finish taking it up to the ideal done temperature. We tend to pull ours off at 170 to ensure it's done all the way through and so tender it nearly falls apart.
    At about 2 ½ hours in, remove the lid and stop the rotisserie. Use an instant-read thermometer to take the temperature reading from the breast and the thigh area. This will give you an idea of how much more time is needed to cook the chicken.

Baste the Chicken:

  • During the last 30 to 45 minutes of cooking, melt about ½ stick of butter in a small saucepan.
  • Baste the chicken with butter every 10 minutes or so. This will help crisp up the skin a little.
    Caution: Be careful not to spatter too much butter onto the coals as the butter will cause them to flame up.

Remove the Chicken and Allow It To Rest:

  • All the spinning and cooking has made this chicken tired. Turn off the rotisserie and carefully remove the chicken from the grill. Remember that spit is hot so wear some gloves to protect your hands.
  • Place the chicken onto a cutting board. Remove the spit and forks from the chicken. Tent loosely with foil and allow the chicken to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Carve and Serve:

  • Use poultry shears to cut up the smoked chicken for serving.

Notes

Tips for Brining: If possible, it’s helpful to mix all of the ingredients of the brine solution in a clear bowl so you can make sure all of the salt dissolves before adding the chicken.
Mesquite Wood: The brine solution and mesquite complement each other very well but feel free to use whatever wood you like.
Temperature: As always, it is most important to cook by temperature than it is by time. We found that smoking a chicken between 225 and 250 degrees F will take about 1 hour per pound. You can crank the heat up a bit and the chicken will cook faster, but it probably won’t’ be as tender and juicy.

Nutrition

Calories: 647kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 261mg | Sodium: 209mg | Potassium: 595mg | Vitamin A: 2559IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 4mg
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