Pit Barrel Cooker dry rubbed chicken ๐Ÿ—

This simple dry rubbed chicken cooked in the Pit Barrel Cooker is moist has a savory, sweet, and spicy flavor, and is made with pantry staples. Today I am hanging chicken halves but it also works great for whole chickens. For whole chickens, I do them with the turkey hanger. This recipe does work with any cut of chicken.

Cooking chicken in the Pit Barrel cooker is super easy and my family loves the results.

This post may contain affiliate links that earn the site a commission.

Ingredients for our homemade dry rub recipe:

Smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper: chili powder, oregano, and thyme.

Link to my smoked chicken rub recipe, but feel free to use a rub of your personal preference. Note: I am using a double batch.

Place the rub that you will be using in a small bowl or shaker this way you do not cross-contaminate the entire batch. Any leftover rub that is not contaminated can be stored in an airtight container for next time.

My local grocery store had whole chickens on sale so that is what I bought. Take a whole chicken cut it in half and if you want use a sharp knife and cut out the backbone. Save the backbone for making chicken stock.

Seasoned chicken on a tray

Dry the chicken halves with paper towels. Then for the best results coat the outside of the chicken with olive oil (the olive oil works as a binder) before adding the best dry rub. Then evenly and generously add your delicious rub to the outside of the chicken. Place the hooks into the chicken breasts going under the breast bone.

Prepare the Pit Barrel by starting a fire and adjusting the temperature between 225F to 275F (107C to 135C). If you want you can add some wood chips for the best flavor. Just remember wood chips make it harder to keep the cooking temperature down.

Hang your chicken halves from the rebar and insert a temperature probe into the thickest part of the breast or the thigh. If your using a duel zone setup (which I highly recommend). hang one probe from the rebar to monitor the barrel temperature. If your using wood chips for a smoky flavor add them now. Close the lid and start cooking.

Now we have to balance cooking the chicken all the way thru versus crispy skin. Letโ€™s face it no one wants to eat raw chicken or rubbery chicken skin. Smoking your whole bird at a lower temperature ensures the chicken is cooked all the way thru, without drying out the white meat. Cooking with high heat gives you crispy skin but the dark meat may still be bloody.

My simple way to achieve the correct balance is to start cooking at a lower temperature. I like to start with my barrel temperature at 200 to 225 F with the lid tightly closed. Then I cook the chicken to an internal temperature of 150F. At this point, I open the barrel and if needed rearrange the chicken for more even cooking. Sometimes one side of the barrel is cooking faster than the other side. Then I put the lid back on but kind of lose. Then I will open the vent a little more. Now I am shooting for a barrel temperature of 275 to 300F.

Cook your chicken until a digital thermometer shows a minimum internal temperature of 165F. Pull your chicken and using an instant-read thermometer check the internal temperature of the chicken legs and thighs. If you are above 165F (74C) youโ€™re ready to serve.

You might also like my recipe for leg quarters cooked in the Pit Barrel Cooker.

Cooked chicken on a tray, this is a pin for Pinterest

If you enjoyed this recipe then please share it with your friends.

Cooked chicken on a tray

Pit Barrel Cooker dry rubbed chicken

This simple dry rubbed chicken cooked in the Pit Barrel Cooker is moist has a savory, sweet, and spicy flavor, and is made with pantry staples.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dry rub, pit barrel cooker
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 64kcal
Author: James Strange


  • 2 each Chickens
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Smoked paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons Granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon Black pepper


  • Split the chickens into halves. If desired remove the backbone.
  • Coat the outside of the chickens with olive oil.
  • In a bowl add the smoked paprika, brown sugar, salt, onion powder, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, chili powder, and black pepper. Give the seasoning mix a good stir.
  • Liberally season the with the seasoning mix. Run the hooks under the breastbone.
  • Start a fire in the pit barrel cooker and adjust the barrel temperature to 225F.
  • Hang the chickens and close the lid.
  • Cook the chickens to an internal temperature of 150F. Then adjust the barrel temp to 275F.
  • Cook the chickens to a minimum internal temperature of 165F.
  • They are now ready to serve.


Calories: 64kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 0.2mg | Sodium: 595mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2112IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @james_strange_eats or tag #james_strange_eats

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x