5 marinade options for smoking chicken at home. Recipes for hot and cold smoking.

Smoked chicken

Today we will teach you how to make the right marinade for smoking chicken in a smokehouse and give it those same flavors. And most importantly, it won’t be difficult for you to marinate chicken at home.

Classic marinade recipe

Salt, sugar

This recipe is about how to marinate chicken for hot smoking. Hot smoking takes less time than cold smoking. However, marinating chicken is a necessary process.

We will be making brine for hot smoking chicken. This brine will be our marinade, at the rate of one liter of brine per kilogram of chicken. All ingredients go into one liter of water.

We will need:

  • Salt – 100 gr. 
  • Sugar – 20 gr. 
  • Garlic 2 cloves
  • Bay leaf – 3 pcs.
  • Mixture of peppercorns – 1 tbsp. l.
  • Coriander beans – 0.5 tsp.

How to cook:

  1. Place a pan of water on the fire.
  2. Add salt, sugar and spices, stir until the salt dissolves.
  3. Press the garlic with a knife and throw it into the brine without peeling.
  4. Bring to a boil and turn off, wait until it cools down.
  5. Marinade for hot smoked chicken at home, ready!
  6. It remains to immerse the chicken in it for at least 10 hours, and preferably overnight.

Now you know how to properly marinate chicken for hot smoking. Marinating time from ten to a day refers to a whole chicken carcass.

So how long should you keep chicken in the marinade for smoking? Firstly, we suggest chopping the chicken into two half carcasses, so it marinates faster, in 6-10 hours, and smokes faster and more evenly. Next, let’s look at the marinade for hot smoking wings.

Marinade for hot smoking wings

Marinade for smoking wings in a hot smoker

The marinade for hot smoking wings will be simpler and take less time. In addition, we will consider two options for marinating, “dry” and and “wet”.

Dry marinade


Dry marinade for smoking chicken includes a mixture of salt and spices. The salt in this marinade penetrates into the poultry meat longer. Therefore, it is advisable to use coarse salt, it takes longer to absorb, or prick the wings with a toothpick.

Ingredients per kilogram of wings:

  • Salt – 20 gr.
  • Mixture of ground peppers – 1 tsp. no slide
  • Suneli hops – 1 tsp
  • Sugar – 1 h. l.

How to do:

  1. Mix all ingredients
  2. We pierce the skin of the wings in several places
  3. Rub thoroughly and leave for at least 2 hours.

Keep in mind that it is better to marinate in a dry marinade longer. Wings are not a very large part of a chicken carcass, but they also require two to four hours.

Wet marinade


This marinade can not only salt the wings, but also add additional flavors. Although the aroma of smoke after smoking will overwhelm many aromas.

For a kilogram of wings we will need:

  • Soy sauce – 50 ml.
  • Garlic – 3 cloves
  • Ground black pepper – 0.5 tsp.
  • Ground coriander – 0.5 tsp.
  • Honey – 1 tsp.
  • Sol – 1 h. l.

How to cook:

  1. Peel the garlic and grate it on a fine grater or press it through a garlic press.
  2. Honey, if solid, can be warmed a little in the microwave.
  3. Add all ingredients to the container and stir until the salt dissolves.
  4. Place the wings and marinade in a baking bag and mix well.
  5. We wait at least an hour and you can smoke.

Be careful with salt, because soy sauce is already salty and different manufacturers differ in saltiness. This marinade is suitable for smoking chicken wings in a smokehouse, both hot and cold smoked.

Marinade for smoking chicken legs

Ham in kefir.

The legs are of course larger in size than the wings, but still it is not a whole chicken. Therefore, you can marinate them in the same way as the wings, but for half an hour longer.

Let’s look at the marinade for hot smoked chicken legs with kefir. For cold smoking, do everything the same way.

We will need:

  • Kefir – 0.5 l.
  • Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp. l.
  • Mustard – 1 tsp.
  • Ground black pepper – 1 tsp.
  • Garlic – 2 cloves
  • Sweet paprika – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tbsp. l.

How to marinate:

  1. First, mix the oil and mustard to an emulsion.
  2. Now pour in kefir and the rest of the ingredients, except garlic.
  3. Press the garlic through a press and also add it to the marinade.
  4. Mix everything thoroughly and pour over the chicken legs.

The vegetable oil contained in the marinade will help the spices to open up better and penetrate into the meat of the leg. Kefir, having its own acid, helps the meat soften.

It also adds juiciness by absorbing into the fibers of the chicken. This is why such a marinade for smoking legs is also suitable for chicken breast. Which, due to its structure, is very easy to dry out.

Marinade with soy sauce

As we already wrote, chicken breast is different from other parts of the chicken. But it is more dietary and suitable for both sandwiches and salads.

But in order to make it more juicy, you need to marinate it a little differently. And so, a marinade for smoking hot smoked chicken at home.

For 1 kg of breasts we will need:

  • Soy sauce – 60 ml
  • Citric acid – 2 tsp.
  • Salt – 1 tsp. with a slide
  • Mixture of ground peppers – 1 tsp.

How to marinate:

  1. Mix soy sauce and citric acid.
  2. We draw the resulting mixture into a regular syringe and prick the breast as often as possible.
  3. Mix the spices and salt separately and rub the breast thoroughly.
  4. Wrap in cling film and put in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours.

It is the process of piercing the breast that will give juiciness and salt it from the inside. Soy sauce will also add tenderness and flavor to the breast. This chicken breast marinade can be used to marinate a whole chicken.

Plus, this is the fastest marinade for smoking chicken. Suitable for hot and cold smoking, but each type of smoking has its own nuances.

Marinade for cold smoked chicken

Smoked half chicken

Here we come to cold smoking. In fact, the composition of the marinade does not really affect the type of smoking. But it is believed that for cold smoking it is better to wait a longer marinating time. After all, the temperatures there are completely different.

And as you may have noticed, marinades do not have a variety of spices. The smoke will kill everything. The purpose of the marinade is to salt the chicken and partially cook it, especially in the case of cold smoking.

We will need:

  • Salt – 50 gr.
  • Water – 1 liter
  • Onion – 1 pc.
  • Carrots – 1 pc.
  • Sugar – 20 gr.
  • Bay leaf – 1 pc.
  • Mixture of peppercorns – 0.5 tsp.

How to marinate:

  1. Put the water on the fire and begin to bring to a boil.
  2. Wash the onions and carrots and throw them into the pan, not peeled. (Can be cut in half)
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  4. As soon as it boils, throw in the chicken cut in half and cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool directly in the marinade.
  6. Marinade for cold smoking chicken, ready!

Be sure to let the chicken dry after removing it from the marinade. You could save the remaining brine for soup. But it is very salty and is unlikely to be suitable for soup broth.

Check out our recipes for marinating duck before smoking.

You now know how to marinate chicken for smoking in a cold smoker. Boiling will allow you to quickly marinate the chicken and cook it until half cooked. And the fact that the chicken cooled right in the brine will give it juiciness. Otherwise, the smoke will do its job.

About how much salt you need to marinade chicken for smoking. Salt is always different! You’ve probably already encountered this. Therefore, there is another method for preparing brine.

  • Start dissolving the salt in warm water.
  • Periodically throw in peeled potatoes.
  • As soon as the potatoes begin to come off the bottom and float a little, the brine is ready.
  • If the potatoes float up completely, then most likely there is too much salt.

As you understand, the recipe for marinating chicken for smoking is simple. Basically, it’s salt, water and spices, and of course time. We told you how to make a marinade for smoking chicken. How to smoke it is another story!

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