Traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken is a beloved barbecue dish hailing from the Carolinas. It involves slow-cooking chicken on a smoker with spices and a vinegar-based sauce.

The end result is tender, shredded chicken bursting with flavor, boasting a tangy and smoky taste. If you’re a fan of Carolina-style pulled chicken, then smoking it is the way to go.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step on how to smoke traditional carolina-style pulled chicken, from preparing the chicken to serving up a mouthwatering dish that will have your guests begging for seconds. Plus, we’ll provide some troubleshooting tips and guidelines for storing your delicious Carolina-style pulled chicken. Get your apron on and let’s get smoking.

How To Smoke Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken

How To Smoke Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken: A Step-By-Step Process

How To Smoke Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken A Step-By-Step Process

Smoking pulled chicken using a cooker adds a delicious smoky taste to the meat. The slow and low cooking method tenderizes the chicken, making it moist and full of flavor. Cooking evenly, the smoker ensures that the chicken is thoroughly cooked while preserving its juiciness.

Using a cooker gives you precise control over temperature and smoke levels for perfectly cooked and flavored pulled chicken. Here are the full process on how to smoke traditional carolina-style pulled chicken.

Step 1: Prepare The Chicken

To get your chicken ready for smoking traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken, begin by choosing a whole chicken or chicken parts such as thighs or drumsticks. Rinse the chicken under cold water and gently dry it using paper towels.

Following that, apply a dry rub made of a combination of kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and brown sugar to impart a flavorful kick. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour to ensure that the flavors seep into the meat, enhancing its taste and tenderness.

Step 2: Set Up The Smoker

Set Up The Smoker

To set up the smoker for smoking traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken, choose a smoker that allows for indirect heat cooking, like a charcoal or wood pellet smoker. Preheat it to 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and add wood chips or chunks, such as hickory or applewood, for extra flavor. Place a water pan in the smoker to maintain moisture.

Arrange the chicken on the cooking grate, ensuring proper airflow and even cooking. Smoke the chicken for 2-3 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Smoke The Chicken

To smoke traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken, start by preparing your smoker. Preheat it to 225°F and add your favorite wood chips or chunks for that smoky flavor. Place the seasoned chicken on the smoker grate and maintain a consistent temperature of 225-250°F throughout the smoking process.

Adding a vinegar-based sauce every hour will keep the chicken moist, tender, and infused with a tangy taste. After about 2-3 hours, when the internal temperature reaches 165°F, it’s time to remove the chicken from the smoker. Let it rest for 10 minutes before pulling it apart – the result is succulent pulled chicken ready to be enjoyed.

Step 4: Monitor Internal Temperature

Monitoring the internal temperature of your Carolina-style pulled chicken is crucial for achieving perfect results. Using a meat thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the meat, keeping clear of any bones. The chicken should reach a minimum temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. If it hasn’t reached this temperature, continue smoking until it does.

By following this step, you’ll ensure that your pulled chicken is cooked to a tender, juicy perfection. To elevate the flavor even more, consider basting the chicken with a tangy vinegar-based sauce during the smoking process.

Step 5: Rest And Shred The Chicken

Rest And Shred The Chicken

After the smoking process, it is important to allow the chicken to rest for about 10-15 minutes. This resting period ensures that the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful end product. Once rested, it’s time to shred the chicken. Using two forks or your hands, gently pull the meat apart into small, bite-sized pieces, making sure to remove any bones or skin.

The shredded chicken can now be served in various ways. It can be enjoyed as is or mixed with your favorite barbecue sauce for an extra burst of flavor. One popular serving option is to place the shredded chicken on a bun along with coleslaw and pickles, creating a delicious Carolina-style pulled chicken sandwich.

Step 6: Serve And Enjoy

After the chicken has reached the desired internal temperature and has rested, it’s time to savor the flavors of authentic Carolina-style pulled chicken. Utilizing two forks or meat shredders, gently separate the tender meat into bite-sized shreds. Present the succulent pulled chicken on fluffy hamburger buns or rolls, capturing the essence of traditional Carolina-style barbecue.

Enhance the experience by pairing it with tangy vinegar-based coleslaw and homemade cornbread, creating a symphony of savory and tangy flavors. For an extra kick, drizzle the mouthwatering pulled chicken with a classic North Carolina vinegar sauce, boasting hints of red pepper flakes and tangy apple cider vinegar. Prepare yourself for a culinary journey rooted in Carolina barbecue heritage.

How To Store Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken?

How To Store Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken

After enjoying a delicious meal of Carolina-style pulled chicken, you may find yourself with leftovers. Properly storing the chicken is essential to maintain its flavor and texture for future use. Here’s how to store Carolina-style pulled chicken:

  1. Let it cool: Allow the pulled chicken to cool down completely before storing. This helps prevent bacteria growth and maintains food safety.
  2. Choose the right container: Transfer the cooled pulled chicken into an airtight container or resealable plastic bag. Make sure the container is clean and dry to avoid any contamination.
  3. Separate into portion sizes: If you plan on freezing the pulled chicken, divide it into portions you can easily thaw and use later. This will prevent the need to thaw a large batch when you only need a small amount.
  4. Label and date: It’s important to label the container or bag with the storage date. This will help you track how long the pulled chicken has been stored and ensure that it is consumed within a safe time frame.
  5. Store in the refrigerator or freezer: If you plan on consuming the pulled chicken within a few days, store it in the refrigerator. For longer-term storage, place the pulled chicken in the freezer. In the refrigerator, Carolina-style pulled chicken can last for up to 3-4 days, while in the freezer, it can be stored for up to 2-3 months.
  6. Thawing and reheating: When ready to enjoy your leftover Carolina-style pulled chicken, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. To reheat, simply place it in a microwave-safe dish and heat it until warmed through. Alternatively, you can reheat it on low heat in a skillet or oven. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent drying out

Troubleshooting When Make Smoke Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken

Troubleshooting When Make Smoke Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken

Follow these troubleshooting tips if you encounter any issues while smoking traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken. Ensure your smoker maintains a consistent heat and use the appropriate wood for smoking. Monitor the chicken closely to prevent overcooking and drying out.

Baste the chicken with a flavorful sauce to maintain moisture. Finally, allow the chicken to rest after smoking to enhance the flavors. Following these troubleshooting steps, you’ll achieve delicious Carolina-style pulled chicken with all the classic flavors.


Smoking traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken using cooking styles has numerous benefits. It imparts a delicious smoky flavor to the meat and results in tender and juicy texture that is sure to please your taste buds.

By following our step-by-step guide on how to smoke traditional carolina-style pulled chicken, you can easily achieve the perfect balance of flavors and ensure consistent results every time you smoke chicken. It’s important to note that proper storage is key to maintaining its freshness once your chicken is smoked to perfection.

Be sure to refrigerate any leftovers promptly and consume them within a few days for optimal taste and safety. If you encounter any issues or challenges during the smoking process, our guide provides helpful tips and solutions to troubleshoot common problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.What Is The Best Temp To Pull Smoked Chicken?

Ans: For the most tender and fully cooked smoked chicken, aim for an internal temperature of about 165°F (74°C). Use a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy, and let the chicken rest briefly before pulling it apart using forks or your hands.

2.What Temp Does Chicken Pull Apart?

Ans: Chicken is easily pulled apart when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature. Cooking low and slow at 225°F (107°C) helps achieve tender meat.

3.What Is Carolina Style Pulled Pork?

Ans: Carolina-style pulled pork is a mouthwatering barbecue dish from the Carolinas. It features a tangy vinegar-based sauce, often made with apple cider vinegar and spices, that adds a unique flavor.

4.What Temperature And How Long To Cook Pulled Barbecue Pork?

Ans: For tender pulled barbecue pork, cook it slowly at a low temperature of 225-250°F. The cooking time varies (1.5-2 hours per pound), so use a meat thermometer to reach an internal temperature of 195-205°F. Rest the cooked pork for 20-30 minutes before shredding with forks or claws.

5.What Are The Steps To Smoking Traditional Carolina-Style Pulled Chicken?

Ans: To smoke traditional Carolina-style pulled chicken, first prepare the chicken by trimming off excess fat and skin. Apply a dry rub mixture for flavor and let it marinate. Preheat the smoker and add wood chips for smoky goodness. Smoke the chicken until it reaches 165°F internally.