How many times have grilled chicken breast and ended up with dry, burnt chicken that resembles cardboard more than chicken breast?
I am no stranger to this problem.
However, over time I have found a delicious solution to this problem. Smoking the chicken breast instead of grilling!
These smoked chicken breasts are tender and juicy. You also get a full on smoky flavor you can’t get from the grill. Smoking is easy peasy and delivers big flavor with minimal ingredients and effort.
This is perfect for those of you who simply don’t have the time to prepare and smoke a whole bird.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the key to a really good smoked chicken breast is the oil that is used in the marinade.
In my opinion avocado or olive oils deliver the best result.
Obviously timing and temperature are also very important to the cooking process, however, the oil is something that many people overlook or just plain forget about.
Due to the high temperature chicken breasts cook at you MUST find yourself some BBQ gloves to protect yourself.
I prefer to use a pellet smoker for this recipe but I have also used an electric smoker with great success (so the family tells me), so I have included the variation below too.
Charlies Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe
How To Smoke Chicken Breasts in Your Pellet Smoker
The below smoked chicken breast recipe serves about 4 hungry guests.
If you do not like the sound of this marinade you can swap out for your favorite, however, I would advise you to go for something that does not have a very overpowering flavor.
You really want the beautiful flavor of the hickory to stand out in the breast!
For this smoked chicken recipe, all you need to do is simply lay your chicken on a large piece of grill foil and drizzle the vinaigrette over one side. Wrap the foil tightly around each breast and place in the fridge until your smoker is preheated.
Smoking each breast with a healthy amount of the marinade and wrapped individually creates a perfect moist environment for a tender and juicy breast.
Be sure not to open the parcel until a couple of hours into the cooking to keep all the goodness inside for the duration of the cook.
Once the chicken is in you want to maintain a temperature of 250ºF, if you need to add in more hickory throughout the duration of the cook please do so.
Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe
- 4-5 large chicken breasts
- 1½ cup of roasted red pepper olive oil vinaigrette (or your favourite marinade)
Roasted Red Pepper Marinade
- 2 juice of lemons
- 12 oz Roasted Red Peppers
- 2 Cloves 2 Cloves of garlic
- 1/4 Cup Extra virgin oil
- 3 tbsp Vinegar
- 1.5 cups Basil
- .5 cup parsely
- salt and pepper
- Inspect each breast and trim off any skin or fat. Using fresh water thoroughly wash each chicken breast. Pat dry with paper towel and place in a large ziplock bag. (If you don't have a large ziplock bag you can do the next few steps in batches or by using a bowl).
- Pour your marinade in the ziplock bag and shut securely. Massage the marinade over the breasts to coat well. Make sure each breast is coated well as this will help them stay tender and juicy while cooking.
- Place the chicken breasts in the refrigerator t marinade for at least 1 hour. You can prepare and marinade over night if you want more flavor.
- When you are ready to cook preheat your smoker to 250ºF following your smokers instructions.
- While your smoker is coming to temperature individually wrap each chicken breast in foil.
- Once your smoker has got to temprature, add the hickory chunks to the smoker box and wait until you get a good smoke.
- Once you have got a good smoke, add the foil parcels to the smoker, close and leave for around 2 - 2 ½ hours. (no peeking!)
- After 2 - 2 ½ hours check the internal temprature of the chicken breast, you are looking for 160ºF.
- Once cooked let rest for 10 minutes then slice & serve.
Roasted Red Pepper Marinade
- Combine Peppers,basil, parsley, garlic, oil and seasonings into the blender and puree.
How To Smoke Chicken Breasts in Your Electric Smoker
For this recipe I am using a roasted red pepper olive oil vinaigrette, it’s a family favorite!
Sometimes you just don’t have the time for pellets, charcoal or wood!
My wife is also a fan of smoking chicken breasts in our electric smoker. Its means she can just plug it in, set the temp and carry on with her day.
- Preheat your electric smoker to 250ºF.
- Similar to the pellet smoker recipe above you want to marinade your chicken breasts with your choice of oil or vinaigrette (make sure you this is more than enough liquid to cover them and more for them to sit in.
- Once you have your smoker to temp add your parcel to the electric smoker.
- After about 2-2.5 hours (make sure you don’t open them below!) check the internal temp, you want to see at 160ºF. My always left the chicken sit for at least 5 minutes!
I find the beer cooks off enough that it is ok to feed to my kids.
If you want some more information I would suggest checking out Can Kids Eat Things Cooked in Beer?
The Best Sides For Smoked Chicken Breast
What To Do With Leftover Smoked Chicken?
In the unlikely event that you have left over smoked chicken breasts (or you are smart enough to cook in bulk to have on hand for a quick meal), what are some things that you can do with it?
We all love a quick smoked chicken sandwich, but they can get a little boring right?
Here are my top ideas for how you can use up that leftover chicken.
- Pull the chicken and add into your favorite vegetable or corn soup.
- Slice and add into your favorite salad for a quick mid week dinner.
- Pull and make quick and easy smoked chicken tacos or burritos.
- Cut into bite sized pieces and make a quick and easy smoked chicken pizza.
- Easy after work smoked chicken enchiladas.
- Shred and add to fried rice.
Final Thoughts on Smoked Chicken Breast
This is guaranteed to become a favorite with your family over summer.
One of my favorite ways to eat this smoked chicken breast is on top of a simple salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, crunchy lettuce, roasted beets and a healthy crumble of feta! And how could I forget a beautiful slice of toasted crusty sourdough?
If you have any variations or special additions that you have, let me know. I am always interested in finding out other people takes on my recipes, this helps me evolve my own cooking and skills.
Happy smoking everyone,