Pellet Smoked Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts on a pellet smoker are always a delicious meal. But you should avoid the boneless skinless breasts because they are lean meat and that usually dries out on the smoker. Go for the bone in skin on chicken breasts which usually cost less than the boneless skinless type. The rib bones help protect the meat from the heat and the fat in the skin keeps the lean breast meat from drying out. If you have time to do an overnight brine, the meat will be even juicer and more flavorful. Smoking chicken under 300F usually results in a rubbery skin texture and to avoid that you can cook the final stages under high heat or over a flame. For this recipe, were going to smoke the chicken breasts at 235F for roughly 2 hours until they reach about 158F. Then they get transferred to to a grill and placed skin side down with the lid open. This will tighten up the skin and give it a nice flame kissed flavor.
Man That’s Cooking
- 2 – 4 chicken breasts bone in skin on
- 2 tbsp BBQ rub
- 1 gallon water
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 lemon
Boil 1 gallon of water along with all of the listed brine ingredients. Allow the brine to boil for a few minutes then turn off the heat. Remove the pot from the burner and allow the liquid to cool for 1 hour. You can add ice in a large zip seal bag to speed up the cooling process but do not add ice directly to the brine because this will dilute the solution. When the liquid reaches a medium warm temperature, add it to an 8 quart container and place it in the refrigerator for several hours.
When the brine reaches refrigerator temperature (around 32F) then add the chicken breasts to the brine. Place the brine back in the refrigerator overnight or at least 12 hours.
After the brine phase, wash off the chicken breasts then place them on a sheet pan with a cooling rack. Pat the chicken down with paper towels to absorb as much liquid as possible. It is important to dry off the skin as much as possible to prevent rubbery skin texture. If you have time, place the chicken back in the refrigerator overnight and this will circulate air around them which dries off the skin.
When you are ready to cook, preheat your smoker to 235 using pecan wood pellets. Place the chicken breasts on an upper rack in your smoker and let them cook for around 2 hours or until they reach a internal temperature of 158F.
Transfer the chicken breasts to a preheated grill and place them skin side down. If you are using a gas grill, set the burner on medium. Keep the lid open and watch out for any flare ups as the chicken fat melts into the flame. Cook until the skin reaches your desired doneness, then flip and cook on the rib bone side. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 165F.