Smoked Chicken Breast

Learn my secrets for making the juicy, tender, flavorful Smoked Chicken Breasts at home.

Learn my secrets for making the juicy, tender, flavorful Smoked Chicken Breasts at home.

I’m going to be honest here, there are no short cuts when making smoked chicken breasts that are worth eating. Ok, now that we have that established. The steps to making juicy, tender smoked chicken breasts are not difficult, it just requires a little planning and time.

I’ve mentioned brining before in my Whole Grilled Chicken and Grilled Spatchcock Chicken recipes. This is another recipe that benefits from the brining process. If you aren’t familiar with brining, I have a great post here that explains how to make the brine and the times required for different cuts of meat. I brine chicken breasts for smoking for 4 hours. Because we are cooking the chicken for a long period of time, the extra moisture that the brining imparts means that you won’t end up with bone-dry chicken breasts. The salt in the brining solution also amps up the flavor.

By now, I’m sure that you know how much I like to layer flavors. And this recipe is no exception. I think that the smokey flavor from the wood used can be complemented with a simple spice rub. As I mentioned in the post for Pork Rub and Seasoning Blend, I like to mix my own spice blends so that I can control the ingredients and the amounts that go into the blend.

The spice blend in this recipe makes the perfect amount for four large chicken breasts, so you won’t have another bottle of spice blend sitting in your cupboard taking up space. If you prefer to use a prepackaged spice blend, make sure that it doesn’t contain black pepper. In my experience, black pepper turns acrid (yuk!) during the smoking process.

The final layer of flavor comes from the wood used to smoke the chicken breasts. My preference is applewood for chicken breasts. It has nice subtle, sweet flavor that doesn’t overpower the chicken and works beautifully with the paprika and brown sugar in the spice blend. If you would like to learn more about the flavors of different type of woods available, here’s  an article that outlines types of woods, flavors, uses, and even suggests woods that you shouldn’t use.

My smoker has a firebox to one side, so when I’m placing the chicken in the smoker, I make sure to arrange the breasts so the thinnest part is away from the main heat source. This aids in even cooking. If you have the ability to arrange the coals or heat source in your smoker as an indirect heat source, I suggest that.

I like to check the temperature of the meat at around 60 minutes. Your instant read thermometer should read 165˚F. If it doesn’t, check the chicken every 15 minutes after that. Once the internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken reaches the appropriate internal temperature, remove the chicken to a platter and cover loosely with aluminum foil.

One of the most important steps in this process is to allow the meat to sit before slicing. If you don’t, you’ll lose all of those flavorful juices that we’ve worked so hard to develop. Five to seven minutes will give the fibers in the meat time to relax and the juices to redistribute. Really, what’s another 5 – 7 minutes after the care you’ve taken in preparing and smoking the chicken breasts?

At this point, you have some spectacular chicken breasts with a lovely sweet layer of smoke and spice on the exterior and a juicy, slightly smokey interior ready to eat. I like to serve a spicy BBQ sauce like this one and a sweet potato fries with the smoked chicken breasts.


Smoked Chicken Breast

  • Author: Allie McDonald
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


Learn my secrets for making the juicy, tender, flavorful Smoked Chicken Breasts at home.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, brined for 4 hours
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder


  1. In a small bowl, combine sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder, and onion powder.
  2. Prepare your smoker according to manufacturer’s specification and heat to 250˚F.
  3. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry.
  4. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with the spice mixture, making sure to cover all sides. Allow to rest of 15 minutes.
  5. Place the chicken in the smoker and cook for 60 – 90 minutes or until an instant read thermometer registers 165˚F.
  6. Remove the chicken from the smoker and place on a platter. Allow to rest for 5 – 7 minutes before slicing.
  7. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce or my Sweet, Spicy, Smoky BBQ Sauce
Smoked Chicken Breast

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