Traeger Smoked Paprika Chicken

side view of paprika spatchcock chicken

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I can’t seem to get enough barbecue lately. Last night I worked with one of my favorite spices.

Paprika.

Paprika combined with fragrant cherry wood turns ordinary chicken into a masterpiece.

Paprika is an earthly, smoky spice that complements wood smoke. Typically I’ll use cherry, hickory, and alder for chicken. These woods add a lot of flavor without going overboard.

Now if you love a hearty, really smoky flavor, then try mesquite. It’s a timeless classic with a long history in the BBQ world.

It’s too smoky for me, but my tastes are not necessarily your tastes.

The great thing about pellet smokers, is that you can custom tailor your woods to any possible combination. Mixing woods together is a snap. All you have to do it add your custom mix to the hopper.

top view of traeger pellets in the hopper
Just add any wood pellet you like to the hopper, then flip a switch.  It’s as easy as that.

For a comprehensive guide to all the woods available, use this chart.

How Paprika Is Made

top view of red peppers used in the production of paprika
You can identify the right peppers for paprika. Red peppers contain capsaicin.

According to The New World Encyclopedia, paprika is made from several Capsicum plants. Red peppers and chili peppers are common plants used . Bell peppers lack capsaicin so they are not used.

The peppers are harvested, dried, then ground up into a rich, dark powder.

It’s fairly easy to identify the right peppers, since they will be red.

Now you might be wondering, are capsicum peppers fruits or vegetables? They are in fact, fruits.

It seems a bit non intuitive but fruits are grown from the plant’s ovary which is what separates them from vegetables.

How To Cook With Paprika

Paprika’s effect on food is somewhat subtle. It does not overpower the dish like excessive garlic or salt and can be used liberally. Paprika adds complexity and interest, and works well on chicken.

Chicken alone is so bland that various spices must be added or your guests will be bored to death.

Good spices to use with paprika include salt, pepper, and garlic. I like to add onion powder as well to increase complexity.

The spices need to be added first before you cook it so that they work their way into the chicken. Apply liberally onto the skin either by shaking, or better yet, dry rubbing the spices into every nook and cranny.

It takes time for the spices to flavor chicken and that’s where a smoker shines the best. The smoke adds additional flavors and tenderizes chicken without drying out. What could be better?

I’ve found that smoking meats a very long time absorb too much smoke and makes the meat taste awful.

To combat this problem, either cut up the chicken into pieces or use a spatchcock technique.

I’ve found that spatchcocking works best with dry spices and cutting up works best with marinades.

Spatchcocking is really easy. Take bone snips and cut along the backbone, then lay the bird out flat on the grill.

One of the biggest problems with cooking a bird whole is trying to get the breast done without drying out the smaller pieces. Spathccocking solves this problem by allowing even heat distribution directly where it’s needed.

This speeds up the cooking process and ensures you will be serving, moist and tender chicken breast every time.

Best Smoker For BBQ

Traeger makes the best pellet smokers.

My Traeger smoker has turned out to be a money saving investment. Even the toughest meats come out tender and juicy far better than any other BBQ method.

I’ve used gas grills and electric smokers, but they don’t compare to a Traeger. In fact, our old gas grill has not been turned on once since we bought the Traeger. It’s headed to the thrift store.

Traeger’s are not cheap, but they are still frugal. Why?

Because you’ll cook more food at home for less using a smoker than you would have purchased at a restaurant or take out.

The secret is that it’s convenient and easy.

If you can turn a switch on, then you have the skills to do it right. Forget complicated setups and working with charcoal or block wood. There’s no need for that because all you need is a bag of virgin wood pellets.

How To Make Smoked Paprika Chicken

As I mentioned, we are going to spatchcock this bird so that it cooks completely without drying out.

Fist remove the backbone with snips, then generously apply salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika to the cavity.

Flip the bird over and repeat on the other side.

Turn on the smoker and wait until the fire starts. When smoke start to rise, turn up the temperature to 350 degrees.

view of smoke from a traeger grill during the startup process
Now that’s a fire

Place the spiced chicken on the grill, cavity side down and cook until the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. All juices should run clear.

Remove from the grill, then cover with foil and let it rest. About half way through the resting phase, baste the bird with juices that form at the bottom of the dish. Basting will prevent the skin form getting too dry.

Cut and serve.

closeup showing moist paprika chicken
Look how moist and juicy this chicken is. Smoking chicken with a Traeger ensures success every time.

Printable Recipe

Smoked Paprika Chicken
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Ingredients
  • One chicken
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
Instructions
  1. Fist remove the chicken's backbone with snips, then generously apply salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika to the cavity.
  2. Flip the bird over and repeat on the other side.
  3. Turn on the smoker and wait until the fire starts. When smoke start to rise, turn up the temperature to 350 degrees.
  4. Place the spiced chicken on the grill, cavity side down and cook until the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees. All juices should run clear.
  5. Remove from the grill, then cover with foil and let it rest. About half way through the resting phase, baste the bird with juices that form at the bottom of the dish. Basting will prevent the skin form getting too dry.
  6. After resting for about 15 minutes, cut and serve.

 

 

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