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Smoked Chicken Breast

Smoked chicken breast is a quick and easy smoker recipe that will have delicious chicken on the table in about an hour. This recipe has options for unbrined or brined smoked chicken breast!

Sometimes you just want a quick and dirty recipe to get dinner on the table and down the hatch ASAP so you can restaple your butt to the couch and watch more election coverage. Or the new episode of The Mandalorian. Or whatever.

This easy smoked chicken breast recipe is quick, as far as smoked recipes go, and super easy. I've included a brine recipe, if you're like us and prefer to brine your poultry, but if you don't, feel free to skip the brine!

This smoked chicken breast recipe is dedicated to speeding it up!

Sliced smoked chicken breast on a baking sheet.

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Tips + tricks

No. 1 --> Use a non reactive container when brining, such as stainless steel, enameled cookware, glass, or ceramic. Using copper, aluminum or cast iron can cause a chemical reaction which can impart a metallic flavour to your food and/or change it colours.

No. 2 --> Don't worry about flipping your meat! The nature of a pellet smoker is such that the chicken breast should cook evenly throughout the entire outside. This is a low maintenance recipe!

No. 3 --> Watch your internal temperatures. Chicken breast can be needlessly dry if it's overcooked. Aim to pull it off the smoker between 163-165f. The residual cooking will bring your smoked chicken breasts to 165f while they rest.

No. 4 --> This low fat chicken breast, while brined, is baked in a dry environment which can make it a bit more difficult to shred than a boiled/ braised chicken breast. It will pull, it just takes a bit more effort. It's delicious and worth the effort!

Sliced smoked chicken breast in a bowl with a chunky romaine salad

Key Ingredients

  • Boneless skinless chicken breast: Like duh! Gotta have the chicken breast to make smoked chicken breast! Ha
  • Brine: If you're going to brine, and I do recommend it, you'll need water, salt, sugar, maple syrup, and cajun seasoning.
  • Rub: The best thing about smoking stuff is the rubs! The brown sugar and spices in this rub make for an extra delicious chicken.

To brine or not to brine

Brining chicken is not necessary, but...

Salt and sugar change the structure of the protein in the chicken, this change improves the taste, texture and ability to retain moisture. A brined chicken will often be more juicy and flavorful than an unbrined chicken.

This becomes important when we are cooking chicken breast which is inherently low fat and can cook up to be dry and bland.

How to make smoked chicken breast

*If skipping the brine, jump to step 4!

  1. In a small saucepan, add water, salt, sugar, maple syrup and cajun seasoning. Bring it to simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the brine to a large non-reactive container. I used a ceramic dutch oven. Add the remaining water and whisk until completely combined.
  3. Place the chicken breasts into the brine, cover the brine container and place it in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  4. Prior to removing chicken breast from the fridge, preheat the smoker to 225f.
  5. Remove chicken from the fridge, rinse well and pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rub.
  6. Once the smoker has been preheated, place the chicken on the smoker and place the breasts face up on the middle rack of your grill. Place a temperature probe into the fat side of the largest chicken breast. Smoke at 225f for 45 minutes.
  7. Increase temperature to 350f and cook the chicken until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165-170f.
  8. Remove the smoked chicken breasts from the smoker and allow them to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before slicing or shredding.

How to serve

There are so many ways to serve this chicken; try it:

  • in salads
  • in sandwiches or wraps
  • on pizza
  • in soup
  • on nachos
  • in tacos

This smoked chicken can be sliced or shredded depending on what you're feeling like using it for!

How to store + reheat

Smoked chicken breast can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days or vacuum-sealed and frozen for up to 6 months.

Frozen smoked chicken is such a convenient food to have on hand. A delicious pre-cooked protein can make a quick dinner in a real hurry!

To reheat, you can pop the chicken into a sous vide bag and reheat in a water bath at 165 for about an hour, microwave until heated through or in a covered baking dish in the oven at 250 for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

Smoked chicken breasts on a cookie sheet.

Traeger Smoker - Our Traeger Timberline 1300 runs year-round, and we buy our pellets by the pallet! This unit has transformed how we eat and broadened our flavour horizons.

Meat Thermometer - The Timberline 1300 has a built-in meat thermometer, but if your smoker doesn't I recommend an InkBird! We picked up a Bluetooth 6 port Inkbird for when we're smoking multiple things. It's great

More smoked meat

📖 Printable Recipe

Sliced smoked chicken breast in a bowl with romaine salad.
Yield: 6

Smoked Chicken Breast

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Brine Time: 4 hours
Smoke Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 5 hours 10 minutes

Brined and smoked chicken breast is so tender and juicy, you'll wonder why you haven't been making it all along!

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless chicken breast

brine:

  • 8 cups water, divded
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cajun seasoning

chicken rub:

  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, add water, salt, sugar, maple syrup and cajun seasoning. Bring it to simmer and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer the brine to a large non-reactive container. Add the remaining water and whisk until completely combined.
  3. Place the chicken breasts into the brine, cover the brine container and place it in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
  4. Prior to removing chicken breast from the fridge, preheat the smoker to 225f.
  5. Remove chicken from the fridge, rinse well and pat dry. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the rub.
  6. Once the smoker has been preheated, place the chicken on the smoker and place the breasts face up on the middle rack of your grill. Place a temperature probe into the thickest part of the largest chicken breast. Smoke at 225f for 45 minutes.
  7. Increase temperature to 350f and cook the chicken until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 165-170f.
  8. Remove the smoked chicken breasts from the smoker and allow them to rest at room temperature for 5-10 minutes before slicing or shredding.

Notes

How to store + reheat

Smoked chicken breast can be kept in the fridge for 3-4 days or vacuum-sealed and frozen for up to 6 months.

Frozen smoked chicken is such a convenient precooked food to have on hand. A delicious pre-cooked protein can make a quick dinner in a real hurry!


To reheat, you can pop the chicken into a sous vide bag and reheat in a water bath at 165 for about an hour, microwave until heated through or in a covered baking dish in the oven at 250 for about 20 minutes or until heated through.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1/2 chicken breast

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 4573mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 0gSugar: 11gProtein: 14g

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