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Smoked Bone-in Chicken Breast
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3.15 from 63 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


  • 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


  • 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


  • 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.


Serving: 85g | Calories: 280kcal