Chicken Breast is a top choice for any health-minded eater! They are low in calories, full of protein, and minimum fat. Give your chicken breasts a blast of flavor by smoking them on your pellet grill and adding a little extra flavor with salad dressing! Yup, you read that right!
Follow the steps below and you’ll be amazed at how moist and flavorful you can make Smoked Chicken Breasts!
How to make Smoked Chicken Breast
Below is everything you’ll need to know to make the perfect Smoked Chicken Breast on your pellet grill, offset or charcoal smoker. These are perfect to add to salads or wraps or to just enjoy on their own!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 1 hour 10 mins
- Cook Temperature: 225ºF
- Finished Temperature: 170ºF
- Wood Flavor: Competition Blend
- Servings: 2-6 people
- Your preference of smoker (I recommend a pellet smoker)
- Commercial grade tinfoil
- Temperature probe
- Boneless, skinless raw chicken breasts
- 1 batch of Smoked Chicken Rub
- Classic Herb salad dressing
- Start your smoker and get the temperature stable at 225ºF.
- Season your raw chicken breasts with our Smoked Chicken Rub or choose any off the shelf chicken rub that you prefer
- Place your meat temperature probe into the center of your raw chicken breast
- Put the seasoned chicken breasts directly on the grill, close the lid, and let them smoke
- Once the smoked chicken breasts have reached an internal temperature of 150º, add a light coating of Classic Herb salad dressing and close the lid
- When your chicken breasts have reached 170º internal temperature, they’re done. Remove them from the grill, put them on a plate and cover with tinfoil. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
- Once your smoked chicken breast has had a chance to rest, cut one open and watch the juices flow out. Take a bite, make “holy crap that’s delicious” sounds and then serve your family and friends whatever you haven’t eaten yet.
BBQ Hero Tip: Try different bbq sauces or oil based salad dressings to give your smoked chicken breast different flavors. We like Greek Feta but we’ve also had great success with Ivory Heaven BBQ Sauce, Italian Dressing, or Greek Feta.
Detailed Cooking Instructions
Set your smoker to 225ºF
Smoked chicken breast is really best when you cook it low and slow. When you cook chicken breasts in the oven, you use a much higher temperature for a faster cooking time but that is not the case with this particular process.
I recommend using about 225 for smoked chicken breast to get the most juicy smoked chicken breast possible. You will need to heat the smoker and then let the temperature stabilize and maintain around this temperature.
This is considered to be a low-medium heat and is ideal for not drying out chicken during the cooking process. This particular temperature and method is really best for skinless breasts but you can accommodate skinned breast or thighs as well. When skin is present, you may need to bump up the temperature at the very end of the cooking process in order to help crisp up the skin so it isn’t left rubbery in the end.
Season your raw chicken breast
Your smoked chicken breasts will get a lot of their flavor from the smoking process but you will want to season them or marinade them as well to really make them flavorful. We recommend a dry rub seasoning like our smoked chicken breast rub. A rub will pair nicely with the smoke flavor to give you the best chicken breasts in the end.
The seasoning process can be completed ahead of time but it is not required. With a rub like we mention here, you can apply the rub shortly before cooking. However, there are many different ways to season chicken and you can use other seasoning options as well. Feel free to try a marinade or perhaps even a brine several hours before cooking.
You can change up your flavors and keep the smoking process interesting by trying different methods at different times. In fact, you can have a new flavor everyday if you really want to. Feel free to try new things and test out different options. You will most likely find a favorite but it’s nice to have options, right?
Insert the meat temperature probe
Once your boneless chicken breasts are seasoned, you can place your chicken breasts on the smoker and insert a meat temperature probe to track the cooking process. Boneless chicken breasts are a meat that need to be fully cooked. The safe temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place your meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thickest chicken breast to be sure all of the smoking chicken gets cooked to the right doneness. For our process, we will complete another step when the boneless skinless chicken reaches 150 degrees.
Smoke your chicken breasts
Making smoked chicken breast is a simple process but you will need to watch your time and your temperature. Place chicken breasts directly on the grill and close the lid. This will allow those wood chips and heat to do the work smoking chicken breasts to perfection.
Cooking chicken breasts at this temperature to about 150 degrees will take probably 30-40 minutes at this medium heat. When they reach 150, we’re going to add some dressing to the smoked chicken breasts so you won’t have tough chicken and they will be full of flavor.
The smoking process will take the longest since this is where the meats are cooking to perfection. Try not to check it obsessively. Simply close the lid and give your smoker time to do the work it was intended to do. You should plan to check it about 30 minutes in. This is a good time to flip it if you are going to as well.
Gauge your temperature at this point and then you can check where it stands in 10-15 minutes rotations after that time, depending on how close the chicken is to being done.
Add the salad dressing to your smoked chicken breast
When your meat reaches an internal temperature of 150 degrees at the thickest part, remove the chicken from the smoker and coat it lightly with Classic Herb salad dressing. Many smoked chicken recipes actually skip this step but we feel like it really does something for the final flavor and helps to reduce dryness when your chicken breast smoked process is complete.
This part of the process is not meant to add a ton of extra to the meat. Your coating should just be a light coating designed to add back to the moisture and help really wrap up the flavors as well. While we recommend the Classic Herb salad dressing, you can get away with any dressing you prefer. Just be sure it is fairly light and has an oil base for the best results.
Place the chicken breasts back on the smoker and allow to finish cooking.
Remove and rest your smoked chicken breast
When your skinless chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 170 degrees, remove the chicken from smoker. Move them to a plate or pan of some sort and cover the chicken breasts with a layer of aluminum foil. Let the smoked chicken breasts rest for about 5-10 minutes to let the juices from the dry rub and dressing really soak in to perfection.
This is the perfect time to finish up your side dish and prepare it for serving because it’s almost time to eat!
When the boneless skinless chicken breasts have rested, cut into them and go ahead and sneak a taste. Your chicken breast should taste absolutely delightful and you might not even want to share!
BBQ Hero Tip: Resting your smoked chicken breast is important as it allows the meat to relax and let go of the juices. Many people skip this step but allowing just 5-10 minutes of resting can completely change the meat!
How long does it take to smoke chicken breasts at 225?
For a boneless chicken breast, you should plan for about an hour of cooking time at this temperature. You can do your rub or marinade up to a few hours before cooking if you like. Breast smoked chicken is very easy to monitor and get just right with these processes.
Your times may vary as not every smoker will be the same. While you should plan for approximately an hour from start to finish, keep in mind that it may quick faster or take longer as well. Check the temperatures regularly throughout the cooking process so you can be sure not to overcook the chicken in the process.
How do you smoke chicken breast without drying it out?
There are many things you can do to prevent drying out. Using a medium heat makes a difference but adding a homemade BBQ sauce or using olive oil when you add your BBQ rub can also make a significant difference in maintaining the flavors without drying the chicken.
We prefer to use a low to medium temperature and smoke the meat slightly longer. You can use olive oil with your rub or seasoning as well and it will make a difference. Smoking meat at a low temperature also really helps to draw the flavor without drying as well.
Some smoking experts recommend using a fruit wood like cherry wood or apple wood for hardwood chips as well because these tend to also have more moisture for the process.
How do you keep chicken breast moist when smoking?
A little bit of meal prep goes a long way with chicken. Some smokers would tell you to use apple juice and an assortment of seasonings like kosher salt, garlic powder, soy sauce, onion powder, brown sugar, and more to brine the chicken. You can do so but you can also prep your chicken with a quality BBQ rub or marinade and it will have the same effect to help keep both moisture and flavor present while cooking.
How long does it take to smoke chicken breast on a pellet grill?
A pellet grill works similarly in time as a charcoal smoker or even an electric smoker if you can maintain your temperature appropriately. If you set your temperature to 225 degrees on the smoker, you can plan for a cook time that is approximately 1 hour.
Do you flip chicken breast when smoking?
We recommend flipping the chicken breasts about halfway through. However, if you have a good smoker that evenly distributes heat, you may not need to flip it at all. This really depends on your smoker but it certainly will not hurt to flip the chicken halfway through either.
Do you need to brine chicken breast before smoking?
Brining chicken breasts is a matter of preference. There are many different ways to prepare chicken before smoking it. If you do brine the chicken, be sure to pat dry before you put it on the smoker. Your chicken will have the same results from a brine process as it will if you choose to use a rub or marinade instead. All of these work to maintain both moisture and flavor while cooking chicken.
Why is my smoked chicken skin rubbery?
When you cook any chicken that has skin, it is best to roast the skin at a higher temperature. If you do smoke chicken with skin on it, just be sure to bump up the heat and crisp the skin near the end of the cooking process. This chicken recipe is focused around skinless and boneless chicken but you can make slight adjustments for skin. In this case, the lower temperature can make the skin rubbery.
You can also add BBQ sauce to the skin and this can help make a difference as well.
While there are a few variables here, this process gives you a general idea of the best way to smoke chicken breasts overall. Keep in mind your temperature of the smoker as well as the cooking times recommended and you should have no problems creating flavorful chicken for the whole family to enjoy.
In fact, we’re pretty sure that when you pull that chicken off the smoker and cut into it, you probably won’t really want to share. We certainly won’t tell if you don’t!