Preventing Rubbery Skin On Smoked Chicken

Want that satisfying crunch while biting into a freshly smoked chicken? But only to be left fighting with rubbery, chewy skin? 

Its one of the most common problems people face! Their smoked chicken has a thick layer of tough, rubbery skin. 

Here you learn how to prevent tough skin when smoking a chicken! While achieving the ultimate, crispy skin!

What Causes Rubbery Skin On Smoked Chicken? 

The rubbery skin on smoked chicken is primarily caused by smoking the meat at low temperatures between 225 to 275°F. 

Smoking meat slowly, and at a low temperature allows fat and connective tissue to break down together, which tenderizes tough meat.

However, this method does not work for chicken as it is lean in comparison to other meats. The chicken should instead be smoked at higher temperatures between 300-350°F. 

Can You Fix Rubbery Skin On Smoked Chicken?

Your best bet at fixing rubbery skin is to sear the chicken skin-side down for one minute on a hot grill or pan. This helps in caramelizing the fat and removing moisture from the skin.

This method delivers the best results when used on chicken wings, chicken thighs, or smoked chicken legs.

Leaner cuts like the chicken breast do not respond well to this method as it tends to dry out the pieces too much. However, if the skin seems to be as rubbery as an old piece of cheese.

The next most effective method to salvage a chewy, smoked chicken is to remove the skin completely. Although this may eliminate some of the smoky flavor and a lot of seasoning, it will still guarantee you a tender smoked chicken.


Tips To Prevent Rubbery Skin On Smoked Chicken

So if want to prevent rubbery skin the next time you toss your chicken in the smoker.

The steps below will take you closer to achieving crispy skin on your smoked chicken

The Fridge Trick

A lesser-known method of achieving a smoked chicken with crisp skin is to let it sit and dry in the fridge for an hour before smoking. 

Cook at Higher Temperatures

A solution to rubbery skin is smoking the chicken at higher temperatures between 300-350°F. This will dry out the chicken skin quickly, causing the fat to caramelize and be cooked into the meat.

The skin will then shrink and crispen up, giving you the perfect crispy skin with a smoky flavor. As a higher temperature will cause the chicken to cook faster, it may have a less prominent smoke flavor.

Hence, it is recommended to start the smoking process at a low temperature and increase the heat for the last hour of cooking. 


Don’t Foil The Chicken

Foiling your meat in the smoker may be contributing to the formation of rubbery chicken skin. The foil creates an enclosed environment and traps heat and creates steam. 

This in turn causes the chicken to retain moisture on the surface of the skin, quickening the cooking process and turning crispy chicken skin soggy. 


Don’t Soak Chicken in a Brine

Although wet brining can amplify the smoky flavor and keep the meat moist and tender. It also softens the skin and makes it hard to crisp. 

Thus, dry brining will be more effective if you are hoping to achieve a smoked chicken with appealing, crispy chicken skin.

This is done by applying kosher salt to the chicken the day before cooking, to give it time to penetrate the meat, enhance the flavor and dry out the skin. 


Don’t Use a Pan

Cooking the chicken in a pan will cause it to cook in its juices, leaving the bottom dry and rubbery.  A cooking grate can be used instead to ensure an ongoing airflow around the meat.

This which prevents the chicken from becoming dry- with an unappetizing, tough skin.


Don’t Baste The Chicken

Although basting helps in retaining moisture on slow cooks, the added moisture works against your mission of achieving crispy chicken skin. 

Instead, spraying the bird with olive oil rather than basting it with a mop sauce can help the chicken to brown and become crispy. 

Spatchcock the Chicken

Spatchcocking, which involves removing the backbone of the bird is an excellent method to avoid rubbery skin and cook the bird evenly.

Individual parts of the chicken are laid on a flat surface after spatchcocking after which you only need to be mindful of time. 

How to butterfly a chicken for grilling
How to spatchcock a chicken for grilling

Finish the Chicken Over the Flame

Finishing the cooking process by cooking it over a direct flame can give your chicken skin the perfect crisp. However, you will need to keep a close watch to prevent the skin from burning. 

Additionally, two-zone cooking is the best way to smoke chicken with the setup cooking with coals on one side and meat on the other side. This avoids grease from dripping onto the fire.


Finish the Chicken in the Oven

Smoking chicken in the 300°F range may be hard if you are using an electric or gas smoker due to their inability to reach high temperatures.

Hence, finishing the chicken in a conventional oven will give you crispy chicken skin without losing any smoky flavor. 

Crank up your smoker temperature to the highest dial and smoke the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F before transferring it into the oven. 

The oven should be preheated to 325°F, then raised to 350°F- 400°F, while using a leave-in thermometer probe to keep track of the internal temperature of the chicken.

Rest the Chicken

Finally, it is crucial to let your freshly smoked chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving. This allows it to absorb its flavor-packed juices, without which the meat will be dry and rubbery. 


Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

Hungry For More?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *