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How to: smoke a chicken breast on a pellet grill

See why a pellet cooker is the secret to juicy, smoky chicken.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon chicken seasoning, divided
  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Servings: 2

Simply put, people just love smoked chicken breast. Chicken breast is one of the most versatile things to smoke on the pellet grill. It’s simple to make, affordable, and can be found at any supermarket.

If you’re someone who likes to plan ahead, smoked chicken breast can be made ahead of time and enjoyed for up to four days after it’s cooked. Stored properly, cooked chicken can also be frozen and will stay good for two to three months.

Chef’s note: Getting your chicken breast to a consistent thickness is very important. If your chicken is thick on one end and tapered on the other, you can either trim the chicken breast to an even thickness or pound the chicken flat between two pieces of plastic wrap. This will allow the food to cook more evenly.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. 1

    Preheat the cooker.

    Preheat your pellet smoker to 225°F.
  2. 2

    Prep the chicken.

  3. Wash the chicken breasts and pat dry. If the chicken breasts have tenderloins attached, use a knife to remove them, and save for another dish.
  4. 3

    Seasoning the chicken breast.

  5. Slather the chicken breasts with oil and season each chicken breast on both sides with chicken seasoning.
  6. 4

    Cooking instructions.

  7. When your smoker has reached 225°F, place the chicken breasts in the center of the grill. Insert a temperature probe into the thickest and most center part of the chicken breast. Smoke at 225°F until the chicken breast reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. This should take about one hour total.
  8. Optional (recommended): If you prefer a slight crust on your chicken breast, smoke the meat at 225°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 115°F. Then, raise the temperature of your smoker to 375°F until your chicken breast reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F.

Can you smoke chicken breast?

You can absolutely smoke chicken breast. Chicken breast sometimes gets a bad rap for being bland and boring, which is why it’s often covered up with breading or batter. But when you smoke chicken breast on a pellet grill, it takes on a lot more flavor than with other cooking methods. It’s probably the most flavorful way to prepare this white meat.

What is the best wood for smoking chicken breast?

Kingsford® Hardwood Pellets are perfect for smoking chicken. All five flavors work well for this dish, but two stand out from the others. Fruit wood pellets like cherry, are particularly sweet and a good choice for chicken breast. If you prefer a bit of hickory smoke, the Kingsford® Classic blend of pellets combines hickory with oak and cherrywood. A perfect balance of hardwood smoked flavors.

How long to smoke chicken breast?

It takes about an hour to get a delicious smoked flavor on chicken breast but it is extremely important to cook to a safe internal temperature of 165°F. Many pellet grills now come equipped with a built-in digital probe thermometer so you can monitor the food’s doneness throughout the smoking process. It’s good practice to use both a digital probe thermometer and a digital instant read thermometer. Insert the digital probe thermometer in the thickest and most center part of your meat for the most accurate readings. The instant read thermometer is great for checking the temperature of other chicken breasts, or checking thicker parts of the meat.

What temperature to smoke chicken breast?

225°F is the magic temperature when smoking chicken breast on a pellet grill.

Food cooks a lot slower at this temperature and smoking at 225°F allows the chicken to absorb the smoky flavors at a slower pace. Smoking chicken is a more delicate cooking method than grilling. It keeps the meat nicely relaxed, and that keeps the meat tender and moist.

What to do with smoked chicken breast?

There aren’t many meats more versatile than smoked chicken breast. The options for how it can be transformed into meals are only limited by your culinary imagination. Smoking has a flavorful advantage over other chicken cooking methods, as it brings along a sophisticated smoky flavor that’s approachable and not overpowering.

Smoked chicken breast can be diced up and served in a salad. Better yet, add a dollop of mayonnaise and a few fresh herbs and smoked chicken breast becomes the salad.

You can feature it at your next fiesta, as it can be easily rolled into a burrito with some refried beans and guacamole. Add it to a tortilla along with melty cheese and roasted veggies and you have a cheesy chicken quesadilla or fajita.

Smoked chicken also goes really well with pasta. It’s perfect for topping a cheesy macaroni and cheese casserole, and makes a delicious add-in to fettuccine alfredo.

If you’re trying to eat a bit healthier, smoked chicken checks all the boxes. It’s high in protein with 43 grams in a one cup serving and zero carbohydrates.

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