how long to smoke chicken breast

How Long to Smoke Chicken Breast? | Recipe Perfect For You

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Smoking a chicken breast is one of the most flavorful ways to cook poultry and when you pair it with your favorite accompaniments, like vegetables or sides dishes, can be perfect for any occasion. But one factor people may have difficulty with is how long to smoke chicken breast in order for it to come out perfectly cooked every time. Knowing exactly how long to smoke chicken breast can be tricky because different variables such as size and type of smoker will affect the cooking time. In this blog post, we’ll demystify smoking chicken breasts by providing helpful guidelines that will ensure your smoked poultry comes out perfectly each and every time.


Smoke Chicken Breast

Smoking is a popular cooking method that infuses food with a delicious smoky flavor while keeping it incredibly moist and juicy. Unlike grilling directly over high heat, smoking relies on low indirect heat from smoldering wood chips or charcoal, and the controlled infusion of fragrant smoke. Chicken breast is a lean and versatile protein that takes beautifully to smoking. The low gentle heat ensures it remains tender and succulent, while the wood smoke permeates the meat with its signature aroma and taste. Smoked chicken breast is wonderful in all kinds of dishes from hearty sandwiches, tacos and salads, to elegant appetizers and main courses.


  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (5-7 ounces each)
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or other cooking oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Optional brine or marinade for extra flavor


  • Pellet grill (recommended for easiest temperature control)
  • Charcoal or propane smoker
  • Meat thermometer (essential for monitoring temperature)


  • Trim any excess fat and remove tenderloins for more even cooking.
  • Coat chicken breasts lightly with oil then sprinkle evenly with seasonings.
  • Optionally, brine or marinate for added flavor.

Now that we’ve covered the essential ingredients and equipment, let’s look at the step-by-step smoking process.

Smoking Process

Temperature and Time

  • Set smoker temperature to 225°F. This low and slow setting ensures the chicken cooks gently while absorbing maximum smoke flavor.
  • Cook for about 1 hour until chicken breasts reach 165°F internal temperature. Cooking time can vary based on size of chicken and your smoker, so rely on a meat thermometer for accuracy.

Optional Crispy Skin

For crispy skin, use the two-stage method:

  • Smoke at 225°F until chicken reaches 115°F internal temperature
  • Increase heat to 375°F to finish until 165°F for crispy skin


  • Always allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes after smoking. This allows juices to redistribute evenly for a moist and tender texture.


Be sure to follow safe meat handling guidelines:

  • Refrigerate chicken below 40°F until ready to smoke
  • Wash hands, utensils, and surfaces after contact with raw chicken
  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked chicken
  • Discard marinade used on raw chicken

See USDA Food Safety Guidelines for more details.

Tips and Variations

Cooking Time May Vary

  • Cooking time can vary based on size and thickness of chicken breasts, temperature of smoker, and other factors.
  • Rely on a meat thermometer for guaranteed safety and accurate doneness.

Customize the Smoke Flavor

  • Use different wood chips like hickory, apple, cherry, pecan, or mesquite for flavor variations.
  • Soak chips longer for milder flavor or shorter for stronger intensity.

Serving Suggestions

Delicious ways to use smoked chicken breast:

  • Sandwiches with BBQ sauce
  • Tacos with avocado salsa
  • Salads with vinaigrette dressing
  • Pasta dishes with pesto or tomato sauce
  • Pizza and flatbreads
  • Appetizers like bruschetta

Additional Notes

Additional Notes
  • Consider adding photos of ingredients and process steps to visually enhance this guide.
  • Adjust the level of detail provided based on the needs of your target home cook audience.
  • Always include relevant safety information when dealing with raw meat.

I hope this comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know to smoke juicy, smoky, and flavorful chicken breasts. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions.


Smoking chicken breast requires just a few simple ingredients, basic equipment like a pellet grill or charcoal smoker, and following the proper technique. With the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, you can achieve tender, juicy and irresistibly smoky chicken breast to enjoy in all kinds of delicious meals. Smoking imparts wonderful flavors into lean and healthy chicken breast while keeping it moist and tasty.

The keys are using indirect low heat between 225-250°F, infusing flavor with aromatic wood smoke, and monitoring the internal temperature to ensure it reaches a safe 165°F. Feel free to customize the flavor with different wood chips and marinades. Resting is crucial to allow juices to redistribute. Serve smoked chicken breast in tacos, sandwiches, salads, pastas and more for incredible texture and taste.

With this comprehensive guide’s tips, safety guidelines and troubleshooting advice, you have everything you need to masterfully smoke chicken breast at home. Enjoy the smoldering flavors and tender meat in your cooking. 

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