How to Smoke The Chicken Breast in Seven Perfect Steps
Who doesn’t love a moist, smoky chicken breast? Smoked chicken is a favorite filling for sandwiches, and a popular ingredient for fresh salads. Some people pair it with a siding of their choice, while others prefer to eat it with steamed rice.
However, not everyone can pull off a tender and juicy chicken breast. You need to consider many factors, such as what spices to add, what wood chips to use, and how long to smoke the chicken breast.
I have recently perfected how to smoke chicken breasts, and I’m here to help you do the same thing. Just follow these seven easy steps, and you’ll surely be a smoked chicken expert in no time.
Things You Need
- 2 pounds chicken breasts (approximately 3 to 4 pieces, depending on size)
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 cup kosher salt
You can also add your favorite fruit juices, spices, and wine to make the brine more flavorful. I usually add ¼ cup olive oil, ¾ soy sauce, and 2/3 cup sugar for every gallon of water. Try adding peppercorns and crushed garlic cloves if you prefer a stronger taste. Or you can add fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme, for an earthier flavor.
- 1 plastic bag
- 1 medium bag of apple, hickory, or mesquite wood chips, soaked in a bowl of water for 30 minutes
- 1 electric smoker
- 1 meat thermometer
- Aluminum foil
Step 1: Prepare the chicken breasts
Wash the chicken breasts in cold water and pat dry. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes while you prepare your brine.
Some people remove the skin and excess fat on the chicken for health reasons, but I usually just take out the fat and keep the skin intact. The skin serves as an additional protective layer on the meat, and adds flavor to my chicken.
Step 2: Brine the chicken breasts
Some cooks skip this step and simply apply their choice of rub on the meat before smoking. But have you ever tried smoking chicken without brining it first? I have, and the results were not pretty. I recommend brining your chicken first to make the meat more tender and juicy. Brining also helps the flavors seep into the meat better.
To brine your chicken breasts, pour water into a container and add kosher salt and your choice of spices. Stir well until the salt dissolves completely. Fill a plastic bag with brine and place the chicken breasts in it. Squeeze out the excess air, seal, and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
After 2 to 4 hours, drain the breasts and pat dry with a paper towel. Let them air dry for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps the smoke stick better to the meat’s surface during cooking
Step 3: Prepare your grill or smoker
Preheat your charcoal grill to 225oF (107oC). Add the soaked wood chips and let them smoke for 10 minutes before putting your chicken in.
I use an electric smoker to cook my chicken, but you can also use a charcoal grill. If you decide to use one, I suggest doing the indirect method of cooking to make sure your meat doesn’t dry out. Simply stack your charcoal on one side of the grill and a metal baking sheet with water on another, and place your meat on the side of the metal baking sheet
Step 4: Place your chicken in the smoker
Once your smoker has reached the right temperature, you can now start smoking your chicken breasts. Place them on the grill bone side down, and leave to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Avoid checking the chicken every fifteen minutes. When you open the smoker too often, you only let the smoke and moisture out, which may cause your chicken meat to become dry and flaky.
Step 5: Monitor the meat’s temperature.
After 1 hour and 15 minutes, check the temperature of your smoker, and add more wood chips, as needed. Wait another 45 minutes to an hour before checking the internal temperature of your meat.
To do this, stick your meat thermometer in the thickest portion of one chicken breast. When the meat reaches 165oF (74oC), you can pull the breasts off the smoker. If not, close the smoker and check again after 30 minutes.
Step 6: Remove the chicken breasts from the smoker and let them cool down
Wrap your chicken breasts in aluminum foil and let them sit in room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes. This helps the juices settle, and keeps your chicken meat from being dry and rubbery.
Step 7: Slice, serve and enjoy
You can serve your smoked chicken breasts with your favorite dip and sidings. I like pairing them with buttered corn and carrots, or a scoop of mashed potatoes.
For sandwiches, use a sharp knife to slice the meat thinly, and then add your choice of ingredients. I usually add cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and sandwich them with the chicken meat in between two slices of whole grain bread.
Smoking chicken breasts to perfection may seem like a daunting task, but it really isn’t. All you need are an electric smoker (or charcoal grill), the right spices to go with your brine, and a lot of patience. Arm yourself with these, and you’ll be set to serve the perfect chicken breasts to your family and friends.
Is this article helpful? Do you have other tips on how to smoke the perfect chicken breast or other suggestions to make it more awesome? Let us know in the comments section and please share this with your friends. Bon apetite!
Do you know how to smoke a pork loin? Click here!