Smoked pulled chicken

We often receive questions about how we would make pulled chicken. The truth is, we don’t usually make pulled chicken, but when we do, we make it super juicy.

For us, pulled chicken is just incredibly succulent chicken, and we know exactly how to prepare that, and now you will too.

We will smoke this chicken low and slow to give the meat the most flavour. Because the chicken will be slowly cooked, there’s a greater chance that the meat will dry out, especially the breast meat. That’s why we’re going to brine the chicken. We used store-bought brining salt this time, but you can also make it yourself. The simplest brine is 1 litre of water with 60 grams of salt. Afterwards, you can add all sorts of herbs and spices for extra flavour.

We first boil 330 ml of water and put 660 ml in the freezer. We dissolve the brine in the boiling water. Then, we add the ice-cold water to the salt water to cool down immediately for use.

We’ve heard that the brine water makes the chicken juicy, but that’s not the case. Only the salt will penetrate the meat cells during brining and hold the moisture better there. So, during cooking, less moisture will be released from the chicken, making it 30% juicier than unbrined chicken.

After brining, we pat the chicken dry and coat it with a thick layer of dry rub. This is our chicken dry rub, but you can use your favourite dry rub.

We use Hickory as the smoking wood. Hickory is usually too heavy for chicken, but because we smoke at a slightly higher temperature, we get a light smoke. And chicken doesn’t need to smoke for as long, so it turns out just right.

We insert a probe into the chicken breast and set it to 75°C (167°F). The legs and wings, being lower and closer to the heat, will reach around 85°C (185°F). That’s the perfect temperature for the fattier parts of the chicken.

These are also the target temperatures we usually aim for when cooking chicken. So, it’s unnecessary to cook chicken beyond the usual target temperatures as you do with pork or beef.

Chicken is naturally tender enough to pull apart. Especially if you’ve let the chicken brine overnight. Cook the breast to 70-75°C (158-167°F) and the legs to 85°C (185°F), and the result is fall-off-the-bone chicken.

Now, let the chicken rest in a roasting pan covered with aluminium foil. After resting for 10 to 15 minutes, you can pull the chicken. You can try it with your bare hands, but the meat is still scorching hot. Combined with the fact that it’s also super juicy, it’s extra hot. So, you better use two forks.

While pulling the chicken, the dry rub on the skin of the chicken mixes with the meat and imparts its flavour. Afterwards, we discarded the skin because it hadn’t dried out properly.

After pulling, we pour some barbecue sauce over the meat. This is our sweet and spicy BBQ sauce that goes wonderfully with this pulled chicken.

You can make 4 to 5 generously filled pulled chicken sandwiches from the meat of one chicken. Let us know if you will make this pulled chicken in the comments below. Or better yet! Please take a photo and post it on Instagram. Tag @bbqhelden so we can see what you’ve made.


  • 1 whole chicken

For the brine

  • 1 litre of water for every 60 grams of salt
  • Your favourite BBQ sauce or ours

For the dry rub

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin (Djintan)
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper


  1. Make the brine by boiling the water. Dissolve the salt in it and let it cool to at least room temperature.
  2. Place the chicken in a container or a ziplock bag that can hold it. Pour the brine over the chicken until it is completely submerged.
  3. Let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for a night or up to two days.
  4. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry with kitchen paper. Sprinkle a generous and even layer of dry rub on all sides.
  5. Prepare a barbecue for smoking at an indirect temperature between 140 and 150ºC (284-302ºF). Place the chicken on the grill with the breast side up. Insert a thermometer into the breast and close the lid.
  6. Cook the chicken until it reaches a core temperature between 70 and 75ºC (158-167ºF), then let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
  7. Pull the meat from the bones with two forks and pour some BBQ sauce over it. Mix it and use the pulled chicken to fill your sandwiches.

Deel, like of reageer