The Easiest Way to Smoke a Pheasant


Pheasants originated primarily in Asia. Many wild species of pheasants are found in wooded plains and forests. They are mostly terrestrial and can only fly occasionally in short distances. In ancient times, pheasants found their way to Europe and became popular among knights and nobles mainly due to their elaborate feathers. When they prepare pheasant and dinners, they used to serve it with their feathers. Slowly, pheasants were introduced to America during the 17th Century.

Smoking is one of the ways to prepare and cook a pheasant. Since preparing this dish is seasonal, you don’t have to cook and serve it often. That will give a lot of time in learning and mastering the tricks in smoking this type of meat.

Pheasant meat is lean, firm, and has a pale color and has a gamey taste. The breast meat is usually darker in color and is more tender than the leg part and has a very delicate flavor. It is a great source of protein, B vitamins, potassium and iron. Pheasant meat is not normally bought from stores as it is only seasonal. You are lucky if you are a hunter yourself or if you have a hunter friend who can provide for you.

Pheasants are characterized as wild birds. Like chukars and grouse, they tend to keep working to live that’s why its meat may be tough and smoking only do a little to make it tender. The usual issue to these type of poultry is the lack of juices. To make it tender, you will need to brine them. After the brining process, smoking the pheasant is relatively easy. These are the steps on how to smoke a pheasant in an easiest way possible.



Preparing a smoked pheasant dish requires three processes: brine, dry and smoke. Make sure that you have prepared all the ingredients and equipments that you need.

Brining Process

Brining tenderizes the meat through a process called osmosis. Osmosis involved forcing water into the meat to season it and keep the moisture intact while it is smoked. Brining is vital and important process in smoking pheasants. It will not only allows increase moisture, it will also allow absorption of flavor deeply into the meat. Never forget or skip the brining process if you want a perfectly smoked pheasant dish. Make sure that you brine your meat properly. If you brine it in few hours, you can expect to have a dry dish. Brine it too much and you will have a salty meat taste.

What you will need:

  • A whole pheasant
  • 1 gallon of water or just enough to submerge the whole pheasant completely.
  • 3/4 cup of salt.
  • 1 cup of sugar.

Combine salt, sugar, and water in a low heat. Stir it so that both salt and sugar will be completely dissolved in the water. Let the mixture cool down in room temperature before submerging your pheasant. Refrigerate the brine and leave it for 8-10 hours. If the meat is too lean, you can brine for up to 12-18 hours.


Aside from this brine recipe, most advanced cooks add other types of seasoning in brining. Do not hesitate to experiment with different types of brine mixture.

Drying Process

After brining, take out your meat and pat it dry. Put the meat on a cooling rack and set it under a fan or place it in a place with cool breeze for 1-3 hours. You can also put the meat in a fridge placed in an uncovered container overnight.




FOR SEASONING THE PHEASANT, you will need the following:

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder (you can also use 2 cloves of garlic crushed)


You can also buy prepared seasoning in grocery stores or refer to other seasoning recipes.

FOR SMOKING THE PHEASANT, you will need the following:

  • 1 bag of charcoal
  • Lighter fluid
  • Your favorite choice of woodchips
  • Aluminum foil



· Soak your favorite woodchips in water for an hour to make your chips last longer during the smoking period. To further prolong your woodchips, prepare two foil pouches with holes. Place the first foil over your woodchips and save the other foil. Midway through the smoking process, place the second foil in the smoker.

· Light your charcoal about 30 minutes before smoking. While waiting for the charcoal to heat up, you can use the time to prepare the meat for smoking. Smother the brined meat with your favorite seasoning inside and out.

· Place the heated charcoal and your woodchips inside the smoker. You can now smoke your pheasant. Place your pheasant in the smoker and smoke it for 3 hours or more until temperature reaches 155 degrees. Wait for 20-25 minutes before you cut your meat. The waiting will allow the internal juices to be redistributed throughout the meat. This is a vital step in ensuring the tenderness of the meat.

· Compared to other poultry, smoking pheasant requires less time to smoke because they are smaller in size. Remember that the pheasant must reach 155 degrees and the juices inside the meat should be clear.

· Other cooks prefer basting their smoked pheasant in maple syrup. For this, you have to prepare a maple syrup mixture and brush it onto the pheasant after one hour of smoking. Then baste the syrup on 30 minute intervals afterwards. When the pheasant is completely smoked, take it out from the smoker and baste for the last time, preferable 20 minutes before serving it. This recipe works best on pheasant, chukars and grouse however it is not recommended for turkey dishes.


Check the amount of water in your water pan. If possible, check it every two or three hours ensure the consistent humidity inside the smoker. Be careful though, frequent checking will cause the heat to escape since you will have to open the chamber. It will take smoking a little longer than it has to be.

If you prefer to skin your pheasant, wrap it in bacon to keep the moisture in and prevent the meat from drying out.

A young pheasant is characterized by having a more flexible wishbone and its spurs would be poorly developed.

Pheasants can be either wild or reared. Wild pheasants are considered to produce better quality of meat than the reared ones.

Pheasants are often sold with their feathers still intact. A fresh and unfrozen pheasant has dry feathers that attached firmly on the skin while thawed pheasant has damp feathers. Sometimes, they are also sold in ready to cook packs.

A young pheasant must be cooked immediately and can be stored in a refrigerator for up to 48 hours under 4°C. Older pheasant either reared or wild can be kept for 3-4 days.

Pheasants are rich in purines thus it is not recommended for gout sufferers.



Pheasant is often disregarded poultry but it actually has a unique flavor that deserves a special place in our dining table every once in a while. However, pheasant meat contains less fat and is subject to dry out fast therefore it is recommended that you do not skip any of the process mentioned above. After many attempts, you will finally master how to smoke a pheasant in the easiest way possible.