Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breasts Barbecue

Smoked bone-in chicken breasts

Smoking is a terrific way to cook up a batch of split, bone-in, and skin-on chicken breasts. The bone imparts a lot of flavor into the meat while the breasts cook. The skin helps to keep the flesh moist. Chicken breast meat is extremely lean and can dry out while cooking. Another way to keep the bird moist is to brine it in a salt and sugar bath before smoking. Brining is optional, but we do recommend it for breast meat. The step-by-step instructions will walk you through brining and then smoking the breasts with the help of a smoked chicken rub. So how do cook smoked bone in chicken breast?

It is recommended that you smoke chicken breasts on a Traeger pellet grill/smoker. A Traeger smoker is easy and requires very little work to achieve the perfectly smoked chicken breasts. It is recommended that you use only Traeger brand pellets because they have a moisture content of 10% and come in various wood varieties.

Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breasts Barbecue

Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breasts: A Step-By-Step Guide

This recipe will serve approximately 4 to 6 people. Preparation time will take 2 hours and 15 minutes, including brining the chicken for 2 hours of that time. Cooking time will be approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 160 to 165°F.

Tools and Equipment Needed:

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bone-in, skin-on, split chicken breasts
  • 1 gallon room temperature filtered water
  • 1 cup kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 orange sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black or white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
Brine the chicken

Instructions:

Step 1: Place the water in a large non-reactive container. Add the salt and sugar and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the orange slices, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Give this a quick stir.

Pro tip: Always brine in a non-reactive container, such as glass, porcelain, non-BPA plastic, or stainless steel. Do not use wood, copper, or aluminum.

Step 2: Submerge the chicken breasts in the brine mixture. Cover the container well with plastic wrap. Place the container in the refrigerator or inside a cooler with ice. Allow the chicken to brine for 2 hours.

Step 3: While the chicken is brining, mix together the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and citrus zest in a small bowl. Set this aside.

Step 4: Remove the grilling rack from your Traeger grill. After 2 hours, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it well under cold running water being careful not to remove the skin. Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels. Rub the breasts all over with the dry spice mixture. Place the breasts, skin side up, on the grill rack and allow them to rest.

Pro tip: It is best to allow the chicken to come to room temperature before placing it in the smoker. This could take 30 to 45 minutes.

Step 5: Prepare the Traeger pellet grill by filling the hopper with enough wood pellets to last 2 hours. Then, turn the smoker on with the top open until a flame is established, approximately 5 minutes. Close the lid and set the temperature to 250˚F. Preheat the smoker for 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 6: Place the grill rack with the seasoned chicken breasts on it inside the smoker. Insert the attached probe thermometer in the thickest portion of one of the breasts. Close the lid and smoke for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours. At 1-1/2 hours, check the internal temperature of the meat with the thermometer. You are looking for 160 to 165°F. The skin should be darkened. Continue to smoke, if necessary, checking every 15 minutes.

Step 7: While the chicken is smoking prepare the balance of the meal. Suggestions for side dishes follow.

Step 8: Remove the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and tent with foil for approximately 10 minutes.

Pro tip: It is important to rest the chicken before slicing it. This allows for any surface juices released during the smoking process to be absorbed back into the meat.

Step 9: Slice the rested breasts with a sharp knife to remove the meat from the bone. Then, cut the whole breast meat into 1/4” thick pieces. Place on a platter and serve with suggested side dishes.

Pro tip: You can slice the chicken by first removing the whole breast from the rib cage, similar to filleting a fish. Once the meat is removed just slice the breast against the grain into 1/4″ thick pieces. There may still be some meat on the bones, so save the bones to make a delicious broth for soups.

Completing the Meal with Sides and Drinks

Traeger dry rubbed and smoked chicken breast has a good amount of flavor. You will want to allow the chicken to be the star of the plate. Keep your side dishes simple, but bold enough to stand up to the smokiness. We recommend a bed of starch to place the sliced chicken on. Polenta or grits, rice, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn would all work. A recipe for easy cheesy grits is below.

You will also want something with a bit of acid to compliment the smoky meat. A recipe for tangy cucumber salad is included. You can actually make this while the chicken is brining. It will get better if it sits in the refrigerator for a few hours.

As for beverages, a buttery chardonnay will stand up to and compliment the smoked chicken breast. If beer is your preference, I would go for a creamy brown ale or a smooth dark beer that isn’t infused with too many flavors. An alcohol free option would be a southern style sweet tea.

Easy Cheesy Grits

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 8 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of water + a pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup quick cooking grits
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella, or a combination)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

Step 1: In a large saucepot over medium-high heat, add the water and salt. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits and milk. Bring this back up to a boil. Then, lower the heat to a simmer and cook for approximately 4 minutes.

Step 2: As soon as the grits begin to thicken stir in the butter and cheese until it melts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with sliced chicken on top.

Download Your FREE BBQ Journal & Recipes Exchange App

Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breast
Print Recipe
2.63 from 8 votes

Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breast Recipe

Smoking is a terrific way to cook up a batch of split, bone-in, and skin-on chicken breasts.  The step-by-step instructions will walk you through brining and then smoking the breasts with the help of a smoked chicken rub.



Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Smoked Chicken Breast
Servings: 4
Calories: 280kcal

Equipment

  • A large bowl or container
  • Plastic wrap
  • Paper towels
  • 1 smaller bowl
  • Traeger pellet grill
  • Apple, maple, or alder wood pellets
  • Digital meat thermometer
  • Clean cutting board
  • Aluminum foil
  • Sharp chef’s knife for slicing

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone-in, skin-on, split chicken breasts

  • 1 gallon room temperature filtered water

  • 1 cup kosher or coarse sea salt

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 1 orange sliced thinly

  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black or white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest

Instructions

  • Place the water in a large non-reactive container.

  • Add the salt and sugar and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved

  • Add the orange slices, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Give this a quick stir.

  • Submerge the chicken breasts in the brine mixture.

  • Cover the container well with plastic wrap.

  • Place the container in the refrigerator or inside a cooler with ice.

  • Allow the chicken to brine for 2 hours.

  • While the chicken is brining, mix together the paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, and citrus zest in a small bowl. Set this aside.

  • Remove the grilling rack from your Traeger grill.

  • After 2 hours, remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it well under cold running water being careful not to remove the skin. 

  • Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels.

  • Rub the breasts all over with the dry spice mixture. 

  • Place the breasts, skin side up, on the grill rack and allow them to rest.

  • Prepare the Traeger pellet grill by filling the hopper with enough wood pellets to last 2 hours. 

  • Then, turn the smoker on with the top open until a flame is established, approximately 5 minutes.

  • Close the lid and set the temperature to 250˚F. 

  • Preheat the smoker for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Place the grill rack with the seasoned chicken breasts on it inside the smoker.

  • Insert the attached probe thermometer in the thickest portion of one of the breasts.

  • Close the lid and smoke for approximately 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

  • At 1-1/2 hours, check the internal temperature of the meat with the thermometer. 

  • You are looking for 160 to 165°F. The skin should be darkened.

  • Continue to smoke, if necessary, checking every 15 minutes.

  • While the chicken is smoking prepare the balance of the meal.

  • Suggestions for side dishes follow.

  • Remove the cooked chicken to a clean cutting board and tent with foil for approximately 10 minutes.

  • Slice the rested breasts with a sharp knife to remove the meat from the bone.

  • Then, cut the whole breast meat into 1/4” thick pieces.

  • Place on a platter and serve with suggested side dishes.

Nutrition

Serving: 85g | Calories: 280kcal

Complete the chicken meal and add drinks

Simple Tangy and Sweet Cucumber Salad

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium cucumbers
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water (cut by half if making more than 3 hours ahead)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill weed

Instructions:

Step 1: Cut the cucumbers in half. If you don’t care for the skins, peel the cucumbers first. Slice the halved cucumbers as thinly as possible. Place these in a glass or plastic bowl.

Step 2: In a small bowl or jar with a lid, mix or shake together the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper. Pour this dressing over the cucumbers. Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

Step 3: Drain most of the liquid off of the cucumbers. Sprinkle with the dill weed. Serve with your smoked chicken breast.

Smoke the perfect chicken breasts

Summing it Up

So that wasn’t so hard, was it? You have everything you need to smoke perfect bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and some really easy side dishes. Full disclosure, I have always shied away from smoking or grilling chicken breasts for fear of “killing” it. Well, the chicken isn’t still alive, but overcooking it is just not okay.

Slow smoking breasts on a Traeger may be the answer to cooking moist chicken. I think brining is necessary for this cut of the bird. Alternately, you can marinate the chicken in a salty, acid liquid blend. Soy sauce, oranges, wine, and seasonings come to mind.

Whether you are a smoking master or a home cook just starting to feel your way around a smoker, this recipe for smoked+ chicken breasts is easy enough to try out on your friends and family. I think it will be a hit.

Win a Free Steak Dinner on Us!

Every month we give away two free 14 Day Dry Aged Rib Eye Steaks

Entering the contest takes less than 5 minutes and then you’re eligible to win every single month from then on

 

Share This Post

Share on facebook
Share on reddit
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest