Best Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe – 4 Easy Steps to Internal Temp Chicken Breast of 165°F

Join us as we take you through this easy smoked chicken breast recipe step by step.

Chicken breast can be dry and bland if not prepared and cooked well, but this recipe is quite the opposite.

Moist, juicy, smoky, marinated in brine and with a flavourful rub – it’s well worth the effort.

It may even elevate you in the eyes of family and friends as a bit of a grillmaster.

Chicken is always a popular and delicious meat to eat, but when you smoke it the flavour will take your taste buds to the next level.

This recipe is for 4 chicken breasts which will feed 4 people along with BBQ smoker side dishes.

Internal Temp of Chicken Breast

Chicken breast needs to have an internal temperature of at least 165°F to kill all harmful bacteria. The internal temp for all poultry, duck, turkey, chicken etc needs to be at least 165°F or 74°C to be ready to eat.

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Smoker Recipe for Chicken Breast On the Grills

FAQ’s About Smoked Chicken Breast

Smoked Chicken Dry Rub

We are going to use the same dry rub as our whole ‘Chicken in the Smoker,’ article. It’s a great combination of sweet, spicy, savoury and smoky.

You can find that article here.

  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Smoked Chicken Brine Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of fine sea salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • Enough water to cover the chicken breasts
  • Tablespoon of Whole Black Peppercorns 
  • Optional herbs – rosemary & thyme
  • 1 Lemon cut in two – also optional

Smoker Chicken Breast Recipe Step 1 – Brine the Chicken

You’ll need a container big enough to hold 4 good sized chicken breasts plus enough water to cover them.

Place the chicken breasts in a large bowl, along with the salt, sugar, and enough water to cover the breasts. Add the peppercorns, the herbs and 2 halves of a lemon, if using.

Ideally we want to brine our chicken overnight in the fridge to infuse flavour, but if you really don’t have the time for that brining them for an hour is still worth it.

If you are worried about the chicken ending up rubbery, you can also dry brine the breasts by simply sprinkling them with plenty of salt. Salt will help seal in the moisture in the chicken breasts.

Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe Step 2 – Prepare the Rub

Take the chicken breasts out of the brine, and pat them dry with a piece of kitchen roll.

Make the dry rub by combining all the ingredients into a bowl and mixing them together.

To give the rub something stick to brush the breasts with a little oil, honey or butter (depending on your taste, all 3 work well).

Liberally dust the 4 breasts with the rub on the top, bottom and sides of the chicken.

Set them aside while you get your smoker up to 225°F.

Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe Step 3 – Smoke the Chicken 

When you are happy with the temperature of the smoker add the wood of your choice – apple, cherry, oak and hickory are all popular choices for chicken and work well.

Place your chicken breasts directly on the grills, but over indirect heat. Keep them away from open flames and let the smoke do its good work.

Close down the lid of the smoker.

At this temperature it will take 2-3 hours to smoke the chicken breasts. 

About halfway through the smoke turn the breasts over to ensure an even cook. At this point check the internal temperature of the chicken to give yourself some idea of how close it is to being done.

If you need to refuel your smoker now is a good time to do it.

You’ll probably need to check the internal temperature another couple of times or so before it comes up to 165°F.

Smoker Chicken Breast Recipe Step 4 – Rest, Slice then Serve

When your chicken is at 165°F take the pieces off the grill and leave them to rest for 5-10 minutes or so while you prepare side dishes.

Slice each chicken breast in neat similarly sized pieces of around 1/2 inch thick.

Serve with mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, corn on the cob, roast potatoes, a leafy green salad or your side of choice.

The chicken should be tender, tasty and deliciously moist.

FAQ’s About Smoked Chicken Breast

Can Your Smoked Chicken Breast be Pink?

Smoked chicken breast can sometimes have a pink tinge due to smoking, just like beef brisket. If your dry rub has red spices like chilli powder or paprika this can add to the pinkness too.

To make sure your chicken breast is fully cooked check the internal temperature which should be at least 165°F.

How Long to Smoke Chicken Breast for Pulled Chicken?

At 225°F it will take around 3 hours to smoke chicken breasts for pulled chicken. Never cook to timings, always check the internal temperature is 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure it is cooked.

Pull your chicken apart with a fork and then serve.

Why is My Smoked Chicken Breast Rubbery?

Compared to other meats, chicken is very lean and doesn’t have much connective tissue. This means there isn’t a lot of fat to render down like pork or beef. Fat is part of what makes the meat crispy.

You can make sure your chicken breast is not rubbery by patting it down with kitchen roll after brining it. If you find your smoked chicken ends up rubbery after smoking, sear it on hot grills on both sides to finish it off.

Can I Freeze Smoked Chicken Breast?

You can of course freeze the chicken breasts after smoking.  Cooked chicken keeps in the freezer for 3-6 months. 

Make sure that you defrost them thoroughly in the fridge overnight before you eat them. 

Defrosting in a microwave is never as effective because it begins to reheat the meat.

If you enjoyed this article you could also try our ‘Chicken in the Smoker Recipe in 5 Easy Stages.

Or our ‘Smoker Recipes for Chicken,’ blogpost.

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