Don’t these smoked chicken breasts look delicious? Add some great sides like potato salad and corn-on-the-cob and you have a great meal for the entire family. To get smoked chicken breasts that are tasty and juicy you need to make sure that you smoke them at 225° F but no higher. The reason is that if you smoke them at a higher temperature they can become tasteless and dry.
Preparing Your Chicken Breast for Smoking
Smoking your chicken breast is very simple. You just need to remove the skin, rinse in cold water, and pat dry. You are now ready to apply a rub. Here is a mild dry rub.
- 2 tablespoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon each of black pepper and salt
Brine or Not
When you brine chicken breasts before smoking it can help to keep the chicken breast juicy and moist. It also adds flavor. Brine also helps in making the chicken breast more tender. Using the brining process, it will allow the flavors and extra water to be trapped. During the smoking process, this will be turned into flavor and moisture. If you are using boneless chicken breast, brining is highly recommended. Here is a simple brine you can use. It will cover six skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- ½ cup table salt
- ½ cup of sugar
Mix these in with two cups cold water, and add chicken breasts. Make sure that is enough space for the chicken breasts to be covered with the brine. Before putting the chicken breasts in the brine, rinse them off and pat dry. Leave the chickens in the brine for 30-60 minutes in the refrigerator. You can also soak them overnight.
After taking them out of the brine, pat them dry before adding your seasoned rub. If you want to rinse the brine off, you can but it is not necessary. Before you put the chicken in the smoker, make sure the chicken is cold. The cold meat, as it cooks, will absorb the smoke better.
Preparing your Smoker
Put a full load of charcoal in the chimney starter and preheat for about fifteen minutes. Leave the chimney baffles and intake open. When the smoker reaches 225° F it is time to put the chicken on the grill racks.
The average cooking time for smoked chicken breasts is approximately two to three hours. If the chicken breasts are larger than average the cooking time will be longer. You can figure that for each pound it will take 30-45 minutes with an internal temperature of 165° F when done. Boneless chicken breasts will not take as long to smoke.
When you check the temperature of your chicken, make sure that you put the thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken breast to get an accurate temperature.
Smoking Your Chicken Breast
When you put the chicken breasts on the grilling racks, it will drop the temperature inside the smoker. To maintain the correct temperature adjust the bottom vents. Keep the door shut while the chicken breasts are smoking to help prevent temperature fluctuation. After you take it out of the smoker you should let the chicken rest, but you can serve them right away if you want to. They do not have to rest.
If you decide to rest them, tent the chicken with foil and let the chicken rest on a platter for at least fifteen minutes to let the juices settle before serving.
Tips and Tricks for Smoking Chicken Breast
- Make sure that you are using the right wood chunks or chips in your smoker. The wood that you chose can enhance the flavor of your smoked chicken breast immensely. You should use resin-free, hardwood to give you that great smoky flavor. If you want a mellow flavor, use apple wood.
- If you are smoking chicken breast with the skin on, make sure that after brining or rinsing it off, pat it dry. This will help give you a crispy bite to the skin.
- The seasoning should be kept simple. A good simple seasoning blend would be butter or olive oil on the chicken with salt, a little garlic, and pepper rubbed in. The star of the smoked chicken breast is the smoky flavor, so you do not want to mask that flavor.
- If you want to add BBQ sauce, do it at the very end of the smoking process.
- Be very careful that you do not overcook the chicken breasts as they can become rubbery.
If you love chicken breasts that are tender, juicy, and have a smoky smell and taste, then smoking is the way to go. The only real prep is brining the chicken breasts and doing the rub. Once you put them in the smoker they do not have to be watched or checked to make sure that they are not going to burn as you would if you cooked them in a frying pan.
A very simple thing you can do to smoke chicken breasts is to use some type of marinade sauce. Using marinade you would put your chicken breasts, individually, on a sheet of aluminum foil, drizzle the marinade over both sides of the chicken breast, and seal in the foil. Put them in the refrigerator while you are preparing the smoker. Once the smoker has reached the correct temperature, put the foil packs in the bottom rack of the smoker and smoke.
Smoked chicken breasts are meat your family is sure to enjoy so make sure that you smoke plenty.
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