can you cook frozen chicken in a smoker?

Smoking chicken can sometimes be a challenge as the smoke and heat need to penetrate deep into the meat. However, many wonder whether smoking frozen chicken is possible. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the topic and provide tips on how to safely cook frozen chicken in a smoker.

Choosing the Right Type of Frozen Chicken for Smoking

Before you start smoking your frozen chicken, it’s important to understand the differences between fresh and frozen chicken. Although fresh chicken is readily available, some opt for frozen chicken due to cost or convenience.

Choosing the right type of frozen chicken for smoking is crucial in ensuring a good outcome. When buying frozen chicken make sure that:

  • The packaging is free from any tears or holes.
  • The skin has not been compromised during transportation.
  • The expiry date is valid.

Frozen chicken that has been previously cooked should be avoided when smoking as it may have already absorbed moisture or bacteria.

Thawing Frozen Chicken for Smoking

The dangers of cooking still-frozen-chicken can cause uneven cooking, longer cook time, and dry meat. Therefore, it’s vital to safely thaw your frozen chicken before putting it in your smoker to ensure safety and favorable flavor outcomes.

There are two safe ways to thaw your frozen chicken:

Refrigerator Thawing

Refrigerator thawing requires more time than other methods but guarantees that bacteria do not spread across the surface of the meat since it permits a gradual temperature increase while maintaining quality.

To use this method,

  1. Remove your pack of frozen chickens from its store package and place them in an empty container with enough space between them.
  2. Cover with cling wrap then store either on top shelves or drawers at the recommended temperature (below 5°C) until fully defrosted.

Keep turning over multiple times throughout the process until all sides have fully defrosted.(It could take up to 48 hours.)

Cold-water Bath Method

This method is quicker than refrigerator thawing and involves placing the frozen chicken in cold water. However, it’s important to keep it safe when using this method:

  1. Place your frozen chicken in a leak-proof package to prevent bacteria transfer.
  2. Submerge the package into a bowl or clean sink filled with cold water until completely submerged.
  3. Replace the water every 30 minutes to ensure that it stays at cool temperatures.

Depending on the size of the chicken, this process can take between 1-3 hours.

Preparing Frozen Chicken for Smoking

Once defrosted, make sure to rinse off any excess scraps and pat dry before seasoning or marinating your chicken to enhance its flavor profile during smoking.

You can choose from a variety of seasonings, marinades or rubs you prefer and season your protein before smoking.

Tips for Smoking Frozen Chicken Safely

Smoking your frozen chicken safely requires appropriate temperature control, equipment and adherence to safety protocols relating to smoking methods.

Temperature Control: Setting Smoker Temperature Right

Different methods use different types of smokers such as pellet smoker method, charcoal smoker method and electric smoker method each with its own guidelines:

Pellet Smoker Method

A pellet smoker heats up using wooden pellets made from compressed wood chips which are then added into a cooking chamber. Some benefits include:

  • Precise temperature control
  • The ability of pellets producing rich unique flavors depending on type
  • Convenience due to automated temperature control system during operation

Before adding in your defrosted chickens decide on preferred internal temperature (typically about 165°F) after which meat probe probes can be inserted into the thickest part guided by meat thickness.- Once set preheat smoke until they reach target temperature

Charcoal Smoker Method

A charcoal smoker uses indirect heat from units fueled by either briquettes or lumpwood charcoal – some benefits include:

  • Charcoal is relatively inexpensive
  • Produces a classic smoky flavor in meat

To cook, make sure you have:

A chimney starter helps get your charcoal going. After the coals are ignited and spread out,place the seasoned chickens directly on grill racks or keep them in aluminum trays. -the chicken cooks as charcoal provides heat by direct and indirect means.

Adjust vents for desired temperature to ensure consistency of heat during cooking.

Electric Smoker Method

An electric smoker utilizes electricity, heating elements and wood chips to smoke food. Some benefits include:

  • Precise temperature control due to thermostats which flips switches to regulate temperatures
  • Convenience with some having bluetooth connectivity so you can track smoke progress from your smartphone.


  • Firstly Preheat your smoker for around 30 minutes until it gets up to temperature
  • Once heated up place the defrosted chickens on the grates or racks inside the smoker.

Ideally, maintain a consistent internal temperature of 165°F throughout smoking process for perfect crispness – with smoke lasting for anywhere from 45 minutes upward.

Preheating Your Smoke

Preheating helps get your grill at the right cooking temperatures needed when smoking frozen Chicken safely. Heat up your grill at least 30 minutes before placing any meats on it avoiding extreme temperature jumps.

The Best Wood Pellets or Chips to Use When Smoking Frozen Chicken

The flavor of any meat can be enhanced by adding wood pellets that create a rich smoky flavor depending on the type used so here are some types suited for smoking chicken:

Cherry Wood

Cherry has mild taste but leaves dark brown exterior once done and also adds mild sweet fruity notes to meals.


Apple wood creates similar flavors to cherry wood subtly adding fruit notes whilst producing lighter colors than cherry creating a pink colored layer.


Maple wood delivers flavors slightly sweeter but less intense than hickory- its strength and tones are complementary to BBQ sauce.


Pecan wood provides stronger richer flavor profile often compared to hickory with nutty and sweet aftertastes that pairs well with chicken.


Mesquite is highly praised in Texas as it produces strong smoky flavor profile – ideal for meats with a tangy finish. It’s common for many pitmasters to use mesquite when smoking poultry such as turkey or quail.

The Cooking Process

The objective is to achieve tender juicy pieces of chicken brimming meat locked-in flavors. Some tips include:

  1. Monitor internal thermometer closely until your desired temperature is reached
  2. Use a water reservoir (if available) inside the smoker so the evaporating steam helps keep the meal moist.
  3. Avoid opening grill lid repeatedly adding time to cook while allowing heat escape making it difficult to smoke at optimal temperatures

Serving Recommendations and Storage Tips

When your frozen chicken has cooked through, use a meat thermometer ensure there is no pink/raw color remaining inside before serving. Here are some recommendations once done:

  1. Serve your smoked chicken on a beautiful platter.
  2. Pair with a delicious sauce, dip, sides or even chop up for salads or sandwiches.
  3. For leftovers, Keep dry by storing them in an air-tight containers so they can last up to three to four days depending on storage method.


Smoking frozen chicken requires proper knowledge on how to thaw safely and maintain consistent temperature throughout the cooking process thereby reducing health risks associated with improperly cooked foods. By applying the methods outlined in this comprehensive guide you can enjoy safe delectable memorable smoked dish!


  1. Q: Can I put frozen chicken in a smoker? A: Yes, you can smoke frozen chicken, but it’s best to thaw it completely before putting it in the smoker. You’ll get better results and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
  2. Q: How long does it take to smoke a frozen chicken? A: It depends on the size of the chicken and your preferred smoking temperature. Generally, you’ll need to add 50% more time than you would for fresh chicken, so a 4-pound bird that takes 3 hours to smoke when thawed will take around 4-5 hours when frozen.
  3. Q: What are some tips for smoking frozen chicken? A: To avoid overcooking or undercooking your frozen chicken, try brining it beforehand with a mixture of salt, sugar, and other seasonings. Also, be sure to monitor the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and remove the bird from the smoker when it reaches 165°F in the thickest part.
  4. Q: Can I cook other meats alongside my frozen chicken in a smoker? A: Yes, you can! Smoking is a great way to cook multiple meats at once since they all benefit from low-and-slow cooking. Just be sure to keep an eye on each piece of meat and adjust cooking times as needed based on their individual size and thickness.

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