Chinese Smoked Chicken is tender, delicious and fragrant. One of my Dad’s specialities used to be his smoked chicken. He grew up in Beijing and recently, I learned that smoked meats were quite popular in that region when he was growing up. I found a recipe for Chinese smoked chicken in my late aunt’s Florence Lin’s Chinese Regional Cookbook. I’ve adapted my aunt’s recipe so it can be pressure steamed in an Instant Pot to save on time.
Chinese cooking uses a variety of cooking techniques to achieve the optimal textural result. Steaming is one cooking method that is used to retain moisture in chicken prior to finishing it, whether it’s deep fried or smoked, as in this recipe. Although steaming adds an extra step, the end product is juicy and tender, not dry at all, so the extra effort is well worth it.
First, the whole chicken is marinated overnight (or up to 2 days) with a dry rub of toasted salt and Szechuan peppercorns.
Then, the chicken is pressure steamed for 25 minutes in an Instant Pot. You can also steam this on the stove top but it will take at least 45 minutes.
After steaming the whole chicken, let it cool. At this point, you can refrigerate the chicken until you’re ready to smoke it, or you can go straight ahead and smoke it.
Stove-top smoking is easy to do. The bottom of a wok and the wok cover are lined with foil. A mixture of hickory chips and oolong tea are the smoking agents.
An oiled rack is placed in the wok, and the chicken is placed on top. Smoking the chicken takes just 15 minutes. The result will be this beautiful amber-colored Chinese smoked chicken.
Chinese Smoked Chicken can be served warm or cold. I’m still working on my chicken chopping skills, but you get the idea.
Chinese Smoked Chicken (Instant Pot)
Marinade the chicken overnight or up to 2 days. Pressure steaming the chicken prior to smoking ensures tender meat.
- 4 pound whole chicken
- 4 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 1/4 cup hickory chips
- 2 tablespoons black tea leaves I used oolong
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Brown salt and peppercorns in a dry skillet until peppercorns are fragrant; cool.
Rub salt peppercorn mixture all over chicken, outside and inside.
Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.
Steaming Chicken (Instant Pot Method)
Pour 1 cup water in bottom of Instant Pot. Place steam rack in pot and put chicken on top.
Steam on high pressure for 25 minutes. Let pressure naturally release for 15 minutes; release remaining pressure. Remove chicken and let cool. You can proceed with smoking the chicken at this point or refrigerate and smoke later.
Line inside of wok and wok cover with foil. Place hickory chips and tea leaves in bottom of foil-lined wok.
Place oiled rack in wok; place steamed chicken on top of rack. Cover wok with foil-lined wok cover, and smoke over medium heat for 15 minutes.
Turn off heat and let stand for 5 minutes to allow smoke to dissipate.
Remove chicken and brush with sesame oil.
Cut chicken into small pieces and serve.
Adapted from Florence Lin's Chinese Regional Cookbook
If you like this authentic Asian chicken recipe, you might also like:
Chinese Braised Chicken and Chestnuts
Angie@Angie's Recipes says
Cool! I didn’t know IP could work as a smoker. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe, Jeanette. Happy Spring!
The IP is actually used to pressure steam the chicken before smoking it in the wok – it’s a time saver!
When a dish is cooked by smoking it, especially meat it really enhances the flavors in the dish. That too without losing its core nutrients much.
The smokey aroma is so delightful to the senses and a treat to the meat lovers specifically.
It is just so yummm….
Thank you for posting it. I followed recipe as is and chicken was delicious. My only feedback is that one should soack the wood chicps in water for 30 mins before putting in wok. My chicken has a burned flavor but still delicious.
Thank you for your feedback and for your suggestion to soak the wood chips.
mary anderson says
I can’t believe my kids wouldn’t be all over this! But more for mommy then hehehe. my mouth is watering I found that to be very amusing! Does look fabulous. Happy Valentine’s Day
marie johson says
Yummy recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Mary M says
I would like to make your smoked chicken, but have a question about the smoking details.
Could you clarify step #2 about smoking the chicken?
After chicken is covered with foil-lined wok lid, HOW do I smoke it? For example…Do I turn the burner on to a certain temperature? Do I need to light the hickory/tea, or does it just smoke from the pan heat?
Also, does this work with an electric glass-top stove? Do I need a carbon-steel wok or will any wok work for this? I am thinking that for me, perhaps a heavy-lid cast-iron Dutch oven will work better on my electric stove?
Love your Blog! I found your blog because of your Instant Pot Nicaraguan rice recipe…we cook a lot of Nicaraguan cuisine.
Hi Mary – I have a gas stove and set my temperature to medium, cover the wok with the foil-lined lid and let the hickory/tea start smoking. Once it starts smoking, I put the chicken on the rack inside the wok, and cover the wok tightly. I would line the wok with 2 layers of foil to protect your wok. I think a cast iron Dutch oven should work fine – it may just take longer for the hickory/tea to start smoking. Thanks for trying this recipe!
Bryson Fico says
I gave it a shot and it worked out great. So tasty and flavorful – smoking meat usually does that.
So glad you tried this and enjoyed it. Thanks for letting me know Bryson!