- January 29, 2023
Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe
Learn to perfectly slow smoked chicken breast on the grill for a deliciously juicy, bold, and savory flavor. Boneless smoked chicken is perfect for weeknight meals or meal prepping for a variety of other dishes.
Smoked and grilled chicken is always a delicious classic preparation method I love to use to impart as much flavor into this simple protein.
I’ve mastered the art of delicious smoked chicken wings, smoked pulled chicken, or even smoked chicken thighs. While it’s standard to often grill chicken hot and fast over direct heat (you can read more about my 7 tips to mastering perfectly grilled chicken), I wanted to share the best way to cook this protein on the smoker as well.
Why This Recipe Works:
- Smoking chicken low and slow allows for the texture of the breast meat to gradually come up to temperature and prevents overcooking the meat, preventing it from getting tough and dry.
- Using this cooking process is a great option for entertaining or meal prepping, especially for large groups because you can get a lot of chicken on the smoker at one time. Once the chicken is smoked, it can be refrigerated or frozen and reheated later.
- Smoke chicken breast meat is amazing in a variety of other smoker recipes from salads, appetizers, or even side dishes. Enjoy variety in other meals by having this on hand!
- Glass Container (for marinating)
- Knife and Cutting Board
- Meat Thermometer
- Paper Towels
Welcome to my virtual classroom! Use the guided notes below where I often answer commonly asked questions I get from readers and cooks just like you.
This information is meant to help you have a stronger understanding of this recipe and the process so you can find success all on your own.
Ready to begin cooking? Simply jump to the recipe card below and begin.
Chicken Breast Brine Recipe:
Brining can be done either through wet brining or dry brining (or a combination of both). When I am on a time crunch I love to use pickle juice as an already made wet brine (that is what I used here).
Taking the extra time to brine chicken breast meat helps it take on more flavor and retain more moisture and juice during the smoking process (especially in the absence of fat).
Here is a simple brine recipe for chicken breasts:
- 2 cups Water
- 1 cup Kosher Salt
- 1/2 cup Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Black Peppercorns
- 2 Cloves Garlic (or garlic powder), minced
- 2 Bay Leaves
- In a large pot, combine the warm water, kosher salt, sugar, peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, add the chicken breasts to the brine, making sure they are fully submerged. Cover the pot and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels. It can now be prepped with a dry rub and binder for smoking.
You can experiment with other herbs and flavors like I also do here with this apple cider beer brine recipe too.
How To Slow Smoke Boneless Chicken Breast:
Slow smoking boneless chicken breast is a great way to infuse the meat with a rich and smoky flavor while keeping it juicy and tender. Here’s how to do it:
- Brine the chicken: Before smoking, brine the chicken in a brining mixture of salt, sugar, and any desired spices for at least 2 hours or use pickle juice that fully submerges all of the chicken. Keep this stored in the fridge until ready to remove from the brine.
- Prepare the smoker: Set up your smoker or grill for indirect heat and bring the temperature to 225 degrees F. Use wood chips or chunks of your desired flavor, such as hickory, mesquite, or applewood.
- Season the chicken: Pat the chicken dry fully with paper towels after brining. Rub the chicken in a binder to help the rub stick (traditionally you can use olive oil but I love a light layer of mayo). Add a thin coating of your favorite dry rub the entire breast, top, and bottom.
- Smoke the chicken: Place the chicken on the grill or smoker grates, making sure it’s not over direct heat, and smoke for 30 minutes to start. Begin checking the temperature by inserting a thermometer into the thickest part of the breast meat. Cook the chicken breasts until they hit a final internal temperature of 165 F. Total time may vary depending on how thick the chicken is.
- Rest and serve: Once the chicken has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the smoker and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing or serving.
Expert Tips To Remember:
- Choose the right wood: Different types of wood will give your chicken different flavor profiles. Mesquite, hickory, and applewood are popular choices for smoking chicken, but you can also experiment with other woods like pecan or cherry.
- Use a thermometer: Stop guessing when the chicken is done and use a meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.
- Maintain the temperature: Keep the smoker at a consistent temperature between 225-250 F to ensure more smoke flavor is slowly adhering to the chicken. It’s a quick cook, so you want as much smoke time as possible!
- Smoke for the right amount of time: The smoking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken. A general rule of thumb is to smoke the chicken for about 30-45 minutes for boneless chicken breasts.
- Experiment with different flavors: Try adding different herbs, spices, or marinades to the chicken before smoking to give it a unique and personalized flavor.
- Keep an eye on the smoke: Make sure to keep an eye on the smoke, especially when you are using a charcoal smoker. If the smoke is too thick or too white, it could mean that the wood is not burning properly and you may need to adjust the airflow to prevent a bitter taste to your food.
Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe
- 4 Chicken Breasts
- 2 cups Pickle Juice or homemade wet brine
- 1/4 cup Mayo or olive oil
- 1/4 cup Dry Rub
- Place chicken breasts into a plastic bag or glass container. Cover with pickle juice brine or a room temperature homemade brine and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F and set it for indirect heat.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels.
- Add about 1 tbsp. of mayo to each piece of chicken and fully coat all sides entirely in a thin layer. Then add about 1 tbsp. of dry rub to each piece of chicken, coating it in a thin layer as well.
- Once the chicken is seasoned and the grill is up to temperature, place each chicken breast onto the grill grates over indirect heat.
- After about 30-45 minutes, check the temperature of the chicken. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 F. in the thickest part of the breast meat.
- Once each chicken breast is smoked to the correct temperature, remove and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice and serve or store the smoked chicken breast meat for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.