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How to smoke chicken breasts

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    How to smoke chicken breasts

    I've smoked chicken pieces in the past, with disappointing results.
    The first time I only used the smoker, and the skin was tough. I learned I should finish the skin over a hot fire (and the fact that chicken doesn't need low 'n slow cooking.) I've also smoked boneless/skinless breasts, and the chicken surface was tough. (BTW, does long exposure to smoke cause the surface to be tough?)
    ​​​I want to try smoking boneless/skinless chicken breasts again. I'm thinking about brining them, and maybe having them on the smoker for only part of the cook, then finishing them on the gas grill at a higher temperature.
    Suggestions?

    #2
    Wet brine. The rest of your thinking is spot on. A little smoke, then finish hotter.

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    • Jfrosty27
      Jfrosty27 commented
      Editing a comment
      What he said.

    #3
    Boneless/skinless I front sear and finish indirect with charcoal. Skin on now gets a date with the Vortex as hot as it will go. I did not tell my wife I switched to the Vortex, (had been using it for wings only - what a dummy I am... ). She said best grilled chix ever.

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      #4
      I’m no expert at chicken, and have tried several times smoking them with some mixed bag results.

      Regular stick burner.....
      We have opted to just smoke it like anything else, low and slow, but discard the skin after it’s done. Pulled chicken is fantastic, juicy as all get out, but the skin is tough as leather. So we leave the skin as a shield and discard it once cooked.

      Pellet cooker.....
      Have tried the last part of the cook to raise the temperature and give the skin some high temp treatment, over 300F, but it does not work well enough. Once the skin is exposed to low and slow, there is a point of no return. Yes, it’s more palatable if you go hot and fast towards the end, but still leathery. Not as tough a the regular stick burner low and slow fixings, but not as good as hot and fast only.

      Pellet cooker or KBQ hot and fast from square one.....
      It’s actually super good hot and fast, but there isn’t much of a smoky flavor to be honest. It’s like oven roasted but a step up better.

      That’s been my experience thus far. Once the skin gets exposed to low and slow smoke, it’s not coming back. My observations only.

      PS: Grilling it is awesome, direct and indirect heat, but that’s more like grilling it, not smoking it. Skin turns out great. Keep a cool spot, safe spot, to place any pieces that could catch on fire.
      PS2: Let me know if you find a tip or trick to get the skin thing to work. Some people have mentioned giving the skin a coat of duck fat just before you smoke it, and they claim it works. I haven’t tried that.

      Cheers,
      Ricardo


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        #5
        I like smoking the chicken to 150* then finishing it off on direct heat for the last 15 degrees. skinless chicken is difficult to smoke without the surface drying. You can try spritzing the breasts with chicken stock often during he smoke to help put moisture on the surface.

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          #6
          Don't know about skinless. I've done wings, drums and breasts on Kettle with Vortex. All with skin on and a couple of chunks of preferred wood. I have not been dissapointed. Not sure if this method would work with skinless. Others might have a take.

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            #7
            I don’t think I can help with this, but IMHO boneless, skinless chicken thighs have more flavor and don’t dry out as badly.

            Comment


            • SmokingPat
              SmokingPat commented
              Editing a comment
              I agree. I cooked some bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs over charcoal a couple of days ago, and loved it. I'm just trying to adjust my diet now that I'm getting 'old'. Want some tasty chicken leftovers for salads. 👍

            • LA Pork Butt
              LA Pork Butt commented
              Editing a comment
              SmokingPat Lean BBQ is a challenge. Skinless helps.

            • smokin fool
              smokin fool commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed thighs are the bomb
              I’ve had mixed results doing skinless breasts. Usually not the best, edible but much red wine involved

            #8
            Wet brine in pickle juice.
            ​​​​​​Cook on med heat on the gasser with a foil packet of wood chips.
            Chicken doesn't take that long, but if can pick up a decent smoke flavor from the chips.

            Comment


            • HouseHomey
              HouseHomey commented
              Editing a comment
              Pickle for the win! I currently use it on fried chicken strips about 40lbs at a time.

            • Ahumadora
              Ahumadora commented
              Editing a comment
              +2 on pickle juice.

            #9
            I HATE boneless skinless but I wind up cooking a lot of them. Settled on Soud vide and sear. Moist enough and the ski doesn’t get too tough. I have sone add sauce and sear, add lemon pepper and sear, etc.

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              #10
              I love cooking whole chickens in my UDS. Dry brine (or wet brine if I need to thaw them) dry, season with any of the many good poultry rubs and smoke at about 350/ I get crispy skin and moist birds. I pull them at 158-159 internal counting on some carryover. Click image for larger version

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                #11
                Cook normally hot n fast 325 and above. Add some wood or even pellets. It’s not heavy smoke but tasty.

                IMHO first cook the chicken well. However that is, generally hotter n faster. Add smoke to the already perfected chicken cook. I believe there you will find your sweet spot. I have never really liked slow smoked chicken for many of the reasons stated above. I eat a lot of chicken and love it but not low n slow smoked. I should say it’s my least favorite.

                I got some pellets from Candy Sue and man those were good with hot n fast wings. Throw out what we know about clean smoke and all that jazz. Grill some chicken with some
                smoke in the background like a lava lamp.

                they’ll pick up some smoke and change the profile.

                maybe it’s just me Though, as usual.

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                  #12
                  I am just not a fan. They are very hard to cook without drying out. If I do, I would cook them indirect at 325 until done. Prefer the thigh of the chicken. Just my opinion.

                  Comment


                    #13
                    I agree that chicken breasts dry out too easily. My go to method is SV and sear in CI Pan with olive oil or butter then usually re-season just a little.

                    Comment


                      #14
                      I love this recipe! Nice and moist every time. https://amazingribs.com/tested-recip...chicken-recipe

                      Comment


                        #15
                        I've had good luck going indirect until the breasts hit 145 and then direct to finish them off (credit to Cooks Illustrated for the idea), marinated/wet brined for ~30 minutes before hand. And if its the giant breasts you find in the stores today, I filet them to get even thickness for cooking.

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