Mouth-watering chicken breasts smoked low and slow over applewood on your backyard smoker or grill. This simple barbecue chicken dish is smoky, tender, and perfect for quick and healthy BBQ dinners.
Chicken breast is often overlooked in the barbecue world, but what the naysayers don’t realize is that this lean white meat is the perfect blank canvas for infusing with smoke and dry rub seasoning.
These boneless and skinless smoked chicken breasts are juicy, tender, and packed in outrageous smoky barbecue flavor. Best of all, because chicken breast is so lean, they only need an hour on your backyard smoker.
Easy Smoked Boneless Chicken Breasts
These smoked chicken breasts are proof that often the most simple recipes are the best. These lean cuts of poultry have a delicate texture that is sometimes mistaken as dry, but is in fact the perfect blank canvas for us to imbue with wood smoke and our classic chicken seasoning rub. They need minimal prep and can be cooked in just one hour, making this the perfect smoker recipe for beginners and weeknights.
Imagine this: freshly smoked chicken breasts right from your backyard, sliced into a zesty salad, or maybe sandwiched between two crusty bread slices the next day. We’re all about making the most out of our weekend BBQ sessions, and these smoked breasts are perfect for meal prepping for the week ahead.
Using skinless, boneless chicken breasts, all the flavor goes straight into the meat, and what a flavor it is: Tender and juicy chicken matched with a touch of smoke and a little kick of heat from our homemade BBQ rub. Once you’ve had a taste of these smoked chicken breasts, trust us, it’ll be a game-changer.
How to Smoke Chicken Breast
Smoking chicken breasts is an easy process, involving minimal preparation and very little time on your backyard smoker. The process can be broken down into just these three simple steps:
- Meat Prep: Use boneless skinless chicken breasts to minimize cooking time and allow maximum flavor to penetrate directly into the meat
- Dry Rub: Combine the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl, using a fork to crush any lumps that may appear. Pat the chicken dry and then apply a thin layer of olive oil to work as an adhesive for the seasoning.
- Smoke: Place the chicken breasts on your smoker grates and smoke at 250°F (121°C) until the meat hits an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Once ready, pull the chicken from the smoker and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing to serve.
The real key to the flavor of these smoked chicken breasts is with our dry rub seasoning. While you can buy store-bought rubs, I prefer to make my own because it’s quick, cheap, and (usually) healthier. You can even make these in bulk so you can use them on all your smoked chicken recipes from now on!
The ingredients for our smoked chicken rub are:
- smoked paprika
- dried thyme
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- kosher salt
- ground black pepper
Simply combine all the ingredients in a small bowl using a fork or whisk (I prefer to use a fork because I can then crush any lumps that sometimes form with homemade seasoning blends). Then, give your boneless chicken breasts a quick pat with paper towels to dry the surface, and then apply a very thin layer of olive oil to the meat surface. This will help the rub stick to the chicken while also developing a nice crispy outer surface.
Now we’re ready to apply the rub: Simply sprinkle the chicken breasts with the seasoning, covering all sides and aiming for even coverage. Now we’re good to smoke!
The key to matching chicken with the right smoking wood is using a mild hardwood that won’t overpower the meat over the course of our short smoke time. Most fruit woods, like apple, cherry, or pear are perfect for this, whereas something like hickory and mesquite in particular will just be too powerful.
We’ve gone for applewood for our smoked chicken breasts. It has the subtly sweet and fruity flavor we want, that’ll complement the chicken as well as our dry rub.
Times & Temperatures
The chicken should be smoked at a consistent temperature of 250°F (121°C). Cooking time is usually between 1-2 hours and is dependent on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts. Use a meat thermometer to check – it will be done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Go for skinless and boneless chicken breasts. They cook uniformly, letting the smoke work its magic without any bones in the way. Plus, they’re a cinch to find at your local store or meat counter. Let’s get cooking!
- Before firing up your smoker or grill, brush a thin layer of olive oil on the smoker’s grates. This will help stop your chicken from sticking to the grates.
- To prevent the chicken from drying out, try placing a water pan on your smoker’s grates. This will help keep temperatures even and add moisture to the cooking environment.
- Don’t forget to rest your chicken! Once cooked, pull the chicken breasts from the smoker and cover in foil before leaving to rest for 10 minutes. This will help the juices redistribute, giving you a plate of tender, juicy chicken.
Smoked Chicken Breast
- 4 chicken breasts boneless and skinless
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- Fire up your smoker to 250°F (121°C), adding wood chips to your coals or wood tray. Apply a thin layer of olive oil to the cooking grates to stop the chicken from sticking.
- In a small bowl, combine the dry rub ingredients. Use a fork or whisk to combine, crushing any clumps that may form.
- Apply a thin layer of olive oil on each chicken breast. Then, season the chicken with the dry rub, covering on all sides and in an even fashion.
- Once smoker is at target temperature, place the chicken on the cooking grates. Close smoker and smoke to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), about 60-90 minutes.
- Pull chicken from smoker and leave to rest for at least 10 minutes, covered in foil.
- Slice to serve. Enjoy!