How to Smoke Chicken Breasts in an Electric Smoker

When done right, the results of smoking chicken breasts in an electric smoker are absolutely delicious.
smoked chicken breasts on the electric smoker

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There’s something about the smoky, savory aroma of perfectly cooked chicken that just makes your mouth water.

And when it comes to a smoked chicken breast that’s been cooked well, the flavor and texture are on a whole other level.

In this recipe, we’ll dive into everything you need to know to smoke the perfect chicken breast in an electric smoker, from choosing the right wood chips to seasoning your meat.

We’ll cover all the tips and tricks to take your smoked chicken game to the next level.

What type of wood should I use? 

The wood chips create the smoke flavor, and the type of wood you use will impact the flavor of your chicken.

I used apple wood chips from Western Wood because they give a more subtle and sweet flavor, which is the perfect compliment when smoking chicken breast.

Stay away from stronger woods like hickory or mesquite unless you really like those bold flavors. Personally, I find them too overpowering for chicken.  

When I first got into smoking, I was gifted an electric smoker that was bought at a garage sale. A lot of my google searching was on how to get the most smoke flavor from my electric smoker.

A lot of websites will tell you to soak your wood chips in water. I’ve tried both, and I prefer not to soak them.

Soaking your wood chips only delays the amount of time it takes for them to start smoking and the smoke doesn’t burn as clean which will affect the overall taste. 

How to smoke chicken breasts in an electric smoker

Before you start smoking your chicken breast, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure they turn out well.

1. Trimming

Start by trimming any loose pieces on each breast and remove any excess fat. 

3 raw chicken breasts on white paper

2. Brining

Brining is a crucial step in preparing chicken breast that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Brining involves soaking the chicken in a solution of salt and water for several hours before cooking. The salt in the brine helps to break down the muscle fibers in the chicken, which results in a more tender and juicy final product.

I highly recommend this step, especially when smoking chicken breast. 

3. Seasoning 

Now it’s time to season the chicken with a dry rub. A dry rub is a mixture of spices that are rubbed all over the chicken.

You can use a homemade rub or a store-bought. I used our Smoke Kitchen Honey Garlic rub and it was perfect for these chicken breasts.

three seasoned chicken breasts on white paper
The sweetness of granulated honey is balanced by garlic, salt, and pepper, making this honey garlic rub perfectly suited for chicken.

Apply an even layer of the rub on both sides and let the meat sweat for 15 minutes.

4. Set up the electric smoker

To set up your electric smoker, start by preheating it to 225°F.

I’m using a Cuisinart COS 330. This model has plenty of shelf space for whatever you are smoking. It comes with two trays on the bottom. The one on the left is used as a water pan, and the other one on the right is for wood chips. 

Fill up the water pan about three-quarters of the way, which will help provide extra steam to keep your chicken breast moist.

If your electric smoker does not come with a water pan you can use a foil pan and place it on one of the shelves underneath the chicken.

Take your favorite wood chips and also fill up the tray about halfway. 

In no time, your smoker should be up to temp and your wood chips will start to produce smoke. 

5. Smoking the chicken breasts

Place the chicken in the smoker with the breast side facing up.

three raw chicken breasts in the electric smoker
You don’t need to flip the chicken during the smoking process.

Place a digital read thermometer into one of the breasts to monitor temps so you don’t have to constantly open the smoker to check. 

While you are smoking your chicken, keep the lid closed as much as possible and only open it to add more wood chips or to spritz with water if the chicken looks dried out. 

When the internal temperature of your chicken reaches 160°F it’s time to pull it off the smoker and let it rest for 10 minutes.

three chicken breasts in the electric smoker, one with a temperature probe in it

As the chicken rests, the internal temperature will climb to 165°F, a safe eating temperature

6. Finishing the chicken 

You can add a little bbq sauce to each chicken breast to finish or serve it on the side.

three cooked chicken breasts on a metal tray

I was trying to keep it pretty simple here and let the chicken shine. You can really taste the sweet apple wood smoke which is mild and pleasant.

sliced chicken breast

The honey garlic rub also plays well with the sweet smoke flavor in the meat and gives a great overall taste. 

Up for some more electric smoker recipes?

smoked chicken breasts on the electric smoker

How to Smoke Chicken Breasts in an Electric Smoker

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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 29 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 139kcal
Author: Jordan Hanger

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Trim your chicken breasts to remove any loose pieces and excess fat.
  • If brining your chicken, remove from the brine and rinse.
  • Rub a little olive oil on each breast and apply bbq rub to both sides.
  • Add wood chips to your smoker and fill the water pan, then heat your smoker to 225°F.
  • Place chicken into your smoker and smoke until the internal temp of the meat is about 160°F. Spritz with water if the chicken starts to look dried out.
  • Remove chicken from the smoker, let rest for a few minutes. Slice and serve with your favorite sides.

Notes

What flavor wood should I use? I used apple wood chips because it gives a more subtle, sweet flavor that is the perfect compliment when smoking chicken breast. Stay away from stronger woods like hickory or mesquite unless you really like those bold flavors.
What is brining and do I need to do it? Brining involves soaking the chicken in a solution of salt and water for several hours before cooking. The salt in the brine helps to break down the muscle fibers in the chicken, which results in a more tender and juicy final product. I highly recommend you do it.
A simple brine recipe: 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of cold water. Mix until the salt is dissolved.

Nutrition

Calories: 139kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 99mg | Potassium: 339mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 123IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg
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