Smoked Chicken Breast on Traeger: An Easy Guide!

August 26, 2022

My family has always been a big fan of smoked chicken breasts. So, I grew up learning how to make this recipe by heart.

If you have a Traeger grill and want to know how to recreate this recipe on your specific make and model, then here is your guide. Discover how to make smoked chicken breast on Traeger, along with top tips for getting it just right!

Smoked Chicken Breast on Traeger

How to Smoke Chicken Breasts on a Traeger Grill?

Depending on your Traeger grill model, you will either have to preheat the grill with the lid closed or open. Newer models use the closed lid process while older models work on the open lid one.

Preheat Older Models

Power up your Traeger grill and set it to the Smoke setting, with the lid open. Wait for 4 to 5 minutes for the fire to establish. Next, close the lid. Set the temperature to 225 degrees F and then wait for 15 minutes for the grill to preheat.

Preheat Newer Models

Power up the Traeger grill and close the lid. Set the temperature dial to 225 degrees F and preheat with the lid closed for 15 minutes.

Fried Chicken On White Ceramic Plate

Choosing Your Chicken Breasts

I know that it can be tempting to choose boneless chicken breasts for this recipe. After all, boneless chicken breasts cook more evenly and quickly.

However, when making Traeger smoked chicken breasts, I would advise you to use bone in chicken breasts. See, the bones help to lock in moisture in the breasts and then they also provide a boost in flavor.

I would also recommend buying breasts with the skin on rather than skinless chicken breasts. I know that a skinless chicken breast is healthier, but the skin helps to lock in flavor while also providing you with a delicious crispy exterior.

At the very least, smoke the chicken breasts with the skin on and then remove it before serving.

When choosing sections for your Traeger smoked chicken breast recipe, look for chicken breasts that are similar in size and weight to one another.

This way, they will cook at a similar rate. Then, you will be able to take out each Traeger smoked chicken breast at the same time, preventing any hassle while you are cooking chicken in the smoker.

Why You Should Dry Brine the Chicken Breasts?

As you are probably aware, there is a high risk of smoked chicken breasts drying out. This is because chicken is a rather lean meat.

To prevent this from happening, I like to dry brine each chicken breast. This way, the tissues break down and dissolve, holding onto liquid during the smoking process. What's more, this technique dries out the surface of the chicken breast, allowing the exterior to crisp up beautifully.

The dry brining process is really easy. It just takes time. Therefore, you will need to prep the breasts about 12 hours before you plan on smoking them.

Sprinkle kosher salt over each chicken breast. Make sure to apply the salt to both sides and even work it under the skin.

Then, place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Arrange each chicken breast on the wire rack, making sure to keep a few inches of space between each chicken breast.

Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and leave overnight, uncovered.

Take the breasts out about an hour before you plan on smoking them.

If you are dry brining the chicken breasts beforehand, make sure to skip the kosher salt in the dry rub.

Smoked Chicken Breast Recipe

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbs. of yellow mustard

Dry Rub

  • 2 tsp. of kosher salt (skip if dry brining)
  • 2 tsp. of black pepper
  • 1 tbs. of garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. of onion powder
  • 2 tbs. of brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. of paprika
  • 1 tbs. of parsley

Method

Step 1

Preheat the Traeger grill to 225 degrees F.

Step 2

Combine the ingredients of the dry rub in a small bowl.

Apply a thin layer of yellow mustard to each chicken breast.

Sprinkle a liberal amount of spice rub onto each chicken breast on both sides.

Step 3

Place the chicken breasts on the grill, making sure to leave some space within each chicken breast.

Place a meat thermometer into the thickest part of one of the chicken breasts. Make sure that the probe is at least an inch away from the bone.

Close the lid and smoke until the internal temperature registers at 165 degrees F.

Turn the grill off and place each Traeger smoked chicken breast on a serving platter. Let the smoked chicken breasts rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving with BBQ sauce.

Chicken Breasts and Spices To Marinate

Creating Your Chicken Rub

I quite like the chicken rub that I have chosen for these Traeger smoked chicken breasts. I find that it perks up the mild flavor of the chicken without overpowering it completely.

Of course, you are free to choose any spices or herbs that you like. For instance, if you like a smokier flavor, then you can add in some smoked paprika.

I would advise you to stick with basics like the kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.

Getting Your Chicken Rub to Stick

One of the trickier elements of this smoked chicken recipe is trying to get the chicken rub to actually adhere to the chicken breasts.

This is why I tell you to apply a thin layer of mustard. Now, I know that this isn't a flavor that everyone is fond of.

So, if you really don't like mustard you can use olive oil. Here's the thing, though, if you have dry brined your chicken breasts, then you have made a lot of effort to ensure that the surface of the breasts have dried out enough to get nice and crispy inside the pellet grill.

Applying olive oil - or any oil - will undo this hard work. Therefore, I would recommend going with the mustard here.

Choosing Your Wood Pellets

The key to this smoked Traeger chicken breast recipe is to choose the right wood pellets for the job. This is how you get that perfect smoke flavor.

If you are looking for something mild and sweet, then I would suggest using apple, cherry, maple, or pecan wood pellets. These will add a smoky flavor without overpowering the chicken flavor.

In case you want to kick up the smoke flavor a notch, then choose oak wood pellets. This has a stronger smokiness to it but still will not overwhelm the smoked chicken breasts.

It is not a good idea to use either hickory or mesquite for this dish as they are incredibly strong. They may actually end up causing the smoked chicken breasts to be rather bitter.

What Temperature Do You Cook Chicken on the Traeger?

As I already mentioned, chicken breasts can dry out rather easily. Due to this, it is important to go low and slow with this kind of meat.

I always stick with 225 degrees F - anything higher than this is going to compromise the texture of the meat. If you are cooking smaller chicken breasts you can choose to go a bit lower than this.

How Long Does It Take to Smoke Chicken Breast on the Grill?

The good news is that even at a lower temperature, your chicken breasts will still cook rather quickly.

Depending on the size of the breasts, the chicken may take a little more than an hour to cook.

Tracking the Internal Temperature

The only way to know for sure when your Traeger smoked chicken breasts are done is to keep track of the internal temperature.

As I have already said, chicken can dry out easily. To ensure that this doesn't happen, you need to use a meat thermometer to track the smoking chicken breasts' progress.

When the chicken reaches 165 degrees F, it is done. So, you know the perfect moment to take the smoked chicken breasts out of the grill so that they don't overcook.

Place the probe in the thickest part of the largest smoked chicken breast. Make sure to keep the tip of the probe away from the bone or you will end up with a false reading.

Just before you take the chicken breasts out of the grill, check the internal temperature of each chicken breast to make sure they are done.

Skinless chicken with fried onions on a grill

Letting the Chicken Breasts Rest

Yes, it is important to let the chicken rest before you serve it. As the chicken breasts are given the opportunity to cool down, the tissues relax, reabsorbing any liquid that has been lost.

This results in a more tender, juicy smoked chicken breast.

Considering it should take no longer than 10 minutes, you really should not skip this process.

Storing the Smoked Chicken Breasts

Do you have leftover chicken breasts? Then, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate immediately.

They should be good for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

If you want to reheat the chicken breasts, you can do so on the stovetop, in the oven, or even on the grill.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Temperature Do You Cook Chicken Breast on Pellet Grill?

The best smoking temperature for chicken breasts is 225 degrees F.

2. How Long Does It Take to Smoke Chicken Breasts at 225?

It should take you a little longer than an hour to smoke the breasts at this temperature.

Wrapping It Up

This is the ultimate guide to Traeger smoked chicken breast! f you want flavorful, juicy, and lightly crispy chicken, this is the recipe and guidelines to follow. Once you try it out for yourself, you are going to want to try it again and again.

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!
Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API. CatHead's BBQ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon (.com, .co.uk, .ca etc) and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
More like this ...
Hungry Yet? Lets Grill Some!
Copyright 2022 CatHead's BBQ, all rights reserved.