Your Go-To Guide: Smoking Chicken Breast on Pit Boss

August 20, 2022

I have owned Pit Boss grills at various points which means that I know a thing or two about smoking chicken breast on Pit Boss grill.

Through trial and error, I figured out the best brining technique, rub mixture, and smoking process to produce the perfect dish. Now I will pass on this knowledge to you!

Chicken Breast on Pit Boss

How to Smoke Chicken Breasts on the Pit Boss Pellet Grill?

There is no denying that the Pit Boss pellet grill brand is one of my favorite options for smoking. It offers models that are affordable, simplistic, and still offer up an excellent smoking performance.

To ensure that you are getting the most out of your Pit Boss, I am going to give you a quick overview on how to set it up and cook chicken breasts on it as well.

Before you get started, check the fire pot if it has been a while since you cleaned out the grill. Make sure that you discard any ashes and this is clean before you begin. Be careful to reinsert the fire pot carefully, ensuring that it is clipped into place.

You should also examine the hopper to ensure that an appropriate amount of pellets are in it. Always top this up so that there are enough pellets to last you the cook. Then, there is no risk of having to stop halfway through to get a refill going.

bbq chicken breast

The next step is to set the Pit Boss pellet grill to Smoke and then to power it up. If you emptied out the hopper during your last cook, then you will need to Prime the grill first.

Otherwise, you can simply close the lid and let it smoke for up to 10 minutes. After this, it is ready to use.

I do want to talk to you about the P setting that is found with Pit Boss pellet grills. This can be activated when the grill is in Smoke mode. The higher the P setting, the more smoke that is produced.

The default setting on your Pit Boss pellet grill is P 4. I suggest that you stick with it as going to high can cause a fire if you aren’t careful.

You should know that the Smoke setting on the Pit Boss works on a temperature range between 180 and 200 degrees F. This is quite low for preparing smoked chicken breasts. While you can use this temperature, your chicken breasts will take a lot longer to cook.

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Should You Brine Chicken Breasts Before Smoking?

Have you ever tried to cook, grill, or smoke a chicken breast before only to find that it comes out dry? As white meat, chicken breasts are more likely to dry out.

This is why I always dry brine chicken breasts before I smoke them. This helps the meat hold onto its moisture, resulting in a nice and juicy chicken breast.

The other perk of this method is that it causes the skin to dry out, making it nice and crispy when you cook chicken breast in the pellet grill. Thus, it is a win-win situation.

Now, I know that most people are more familiar with a wet brine. However, I would advise you to give the dry brine method a try. Not only is it faster and easier, it ensures that the chicken breasts take up less space in the refrigerator too.

If you do decide to use a dry brine, you can skip using salt in the dry rub.

How to Dry Brine?

For this, you will need to use kosher salt – not table salt.

Place each chicken breast on the work space. Next, using three fingers, take a scoop of kosher salt. Raise your hand several inches above the chicken breast and sprinkle the salt liberally.

Make sure to cover the entire side. Once you are done, flip it over and repeat the action.

Place in the refrigerator, uncovered for several hours or until the skin is dry to the touch.

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raw chicken breast

Smoked Chicken Breasts Recipe


  • 4 chicken breasts, bone in and skin on

Dry Rub

  • 1 tbs. of brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. of chili powder
  • 2 tsp. of garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. of onion powder
  • 1 tsp. of kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper

Glaze (Optional)

  • 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce


Step 1

Mix the dry rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Pat the chicken breasts dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle the dry rub onto each chicken breast. Press into the skin.

Step 2

Preheat the Pit Boss pellet grill to 225 F. Close the lid and wait for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Arrange each chicken breast on Pit Boss pellet grill grate. Make sure to leave a bit of space between each chicken breast.

Close the lid and cook chicken breast until the internal temperature hits 165 F. This should take around an hour. You can flip each chicken breast over at the halfway mark if you wish.

If you want to glaze the chicken breasts, then lift the cover at around the 45 minute mark. Using a pastry brush or basting brush, apply a thin layer of barbecue sauce on each chicken breast.

You can repeat this about 5 minutes before you take the smoked chicken breasts off the pellet grill.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

What Chicken Breasts are Best for Smoking?

I know that for health and efficiency, a lot of people prefer to cook skinless chicken breasts without the bone. For this particular recipe, though, I would advise you to choose skin on and bone in chicken breasts.

If you try to smoke boneless chicken breasts, you are going to end up with smoked chicken breasts that aren’t quite as tender and flavorful as you would like them to be. Bone in breasts may take longer to cook but they add quite a bit of flavor to each chicken breast.

Marinated Chicken Breast

Just as importantly, they guarantee that the chicken breast holds onto more of its moisture, making it a juicier dish. And, in case you are wondering how long does it take with the bone, don’t worry it doesn’t add too much to your cooking time.

The same goes for the skin too. When cooking chicken on a Pit Boss grill, there is a higher risk of losing moisture. The skin acts as a barrier, keeping the liquid in. Furthermore, it also gets nice and crispy, adding texture to the smoked chicken breasts.

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Applying the Dry Rub

The rub plays a pretty important role in these smoked chicken breasts. As such, it can be fairly frustrating when you find that the ingredients don’t adhere to the chicken breast like you need it to.

In this case, you can use either olive oil or mustard as a binding agent. My personal preference is mustard. Not only does it add some tang but unlike the oil, it doesn’t add moisture to the chicken breasts. This means that the skin can get nice and crispy.

If you are using the oil, apply the thinnest layer possible.

Which Wood Pellets are Best?

One of the toughest questions to answer is which hardwood pellets should you be using in your pellet grill for smoked chicken breasts?

It is certainly down to personal preference and what flavors you like best. I would ask you to keep in mind that chicken is more delicately flavored. As such, it is also a good idea to go with something that is equally mild.

Apple, cherry, and maple are all excellent choices here. I have also found that oak and pecan are also good options.

Of course, there is no need to stick with one option. Many people like to add a little bit of different hardwoods to create a subtle yet lovely flavor. This is something that I suggest you try out.

It is best to stay away from options such as mesquite or hickory, however. These tend to have a strong and overpowering flavor to them. And, if paired with chicken, then the smokey flavor can overwhelm the natural flavor profile of the meat and rub.

Choosing the Pit Boss Pellet Grill Temperature

When you cook chicken breast on Pit Boss pellet grill, there are lots of temperature options to choose from. And, you will probably find various recipes all quoting different temperatures.

I like to smoke most of my meats including chicken breasts at 225 F on the pellet grill. The reason that I choose this on the temperature dial is because it cooks the meat low and slow. This reduces the risk of drying out the meat.

I know that some like to turn up the heat so that the chicken will cook faster. While you can take it up to 250 F without any issue, I would advise going up any higher than this.

If you do smoke the breasts at a higher temperature, make sure to track the internal temperature of the chicken breasts very carefully.

bbq chicken, rice and veggies

Maintaining the Temperature

One of the biggest mistakes that people are prone to making is opening the lid too often. I understand why you do it – you just want to check to see how your smoked chicken is doing.

Despite this, I am going to insist that you leave the lid closed for most of the cook. See, every time that you open the lid, hot air rushes out and the cold air rushes in. This throws off the overall smoking temp.

Not only can this cause uneven cooking, it can also prolong the cooking time, particularly if you do it too often.

Instead of opening and closing the lid, I would suggest investing in an instant read thermometer that has a display outside of the grill or can be viewed on a phone app. This will alleviate the need to open the lid.

The other trick that you can try is to time when you check on the chicken breasts. For instance, when cooking at 225 F, the meat should take about an hour to cook. Thus, check the temp at around 45 minutes to track the progress.

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Should You Flip the Chicken Breasts?

Traditionally when cooking chicken on a grill, you will flip each breast – often several times. This is done so that both the top and the bottom of the chicken will cook evenly.

With smoked chicken, though, this isn’t necessary as the pellet grill fills the cooking chamber will heat and smoke, cooking the entire breast at once.

Still, you may want to flip the breast when cooking chicken in a smoker at the halfway point, nonetheless. This is so that you get grill marks on both side. Not only can this add to presentation but it can improve overall taste and texture too.

Paying Attention to Internal Temperature

If you want to make the best ever smoked chicken then you have to rely on a thermometer to track the internal temp. Some Pit Boss pellet grills are equipped with one but investing in a good quality one will always be the right move.

As mentioned, chicken breasts are prone to overcooking which is why the internal temp is such an excellent guide. Just make sure that you place the probe in the thickest part of the breast and at least an inch away from bone.

Now, if you want, you can take out the breasts at 160 F instead. Due to a process known as carryover cooking, the meat will continue cooking even after it is removed from the heat. As such, taking it off a little early can ensure that the meat doesn’t turn out dry.

If you decide to do this, make sure to baste the chicken earlier too if this is a step that you are including in the process.

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Wrapping It Up

Preparing chicken breasts on a Pit Boss grill is a lot easier than you may initially imagined. Now that you are fully aware of the ingredients, steps, and tips and tricks, you can bring this dish to life, even adding a few of your own touches along the way!

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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