Unlike smoking a pork shoulder for 10 hours, smoking chicken breasts and thighs will be a much shorter cook. The combination of these smaller cuts and a lower finishing target internal temperature will make things go fairly quickly. The disadvantage is that these chicken breasts and thighs will not be in the smoker long enough to absorb a lot of smoke flavor.
The recommended smoker temperature in the early going is 225 F | 100 C. Cook these low and slow for the first half-hour or so to allow them a bit more time to absorb some smoke. About halfway through the cook raise the temperature to 265 F | 130 C to finish the cook. As always, smoking meat is not about how long it will take. It is always about reaching the target internal temperature. This is especially true for chicken. Our goal for this cook is an internal temperature of 165 F | 75 C.
One thing to watch for when managing doneness is the size and shape of the protein. Thinner and/or smaller pieces will obviously reach the desired temperature faster. In this case the thighs will likely be done quite a bit sooner than these large breasts.
Consider using a smoking pan and rack to catch the drippings to reduce the mess in your smoker. It makes clean up much easier. When smoking breasts and thighs you will also need an instant-read thermometer to ensure you are cooking to exactly the right temperature. This is not just about getting the doneness right, it is also about food safety as well. The seasoning is a personal choice. If you need somewhere to start, consider the Penzies Northwoods Seasoning. It carries all of the flavors that will remind you of Thanksgiving dinner like rosemary, thyme, and sage. It will also add great color.
Chicken Breasts and ThighsCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
varies225 F – 265 F
All cooking times are approximate. Please use your instant-read thermometer and the internal temperature target as your guide.
ingredients and supplies
4 large chicken breasts
3 bone-in chicken thighs
Poultry rub (Penzies Northwoods Seasoning)
Smoking pan and rack
Vegetable oil or cooking spray
Wood pellets – Hardwood blend
Dry brine the individual pieces with a liberal sprinkle of kosher salt and store uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Season with your favorite rub prior to smoking.
The recommended smoker temperature in the early going is 225 F | 100 C. Cook these low and slow for the first half hour or so to allow them a bit more time to absorb some smoke. About half way through the cook raise the temperate to 265 F | 130 C to finish the cook. Our goal for this cook is an internal temperature of 165 F | 75 C.
Check the internal temperatures of the thighs and remove them from the smoker first. The larger chicken breast will take a bit longer. Let them rest for 10 minutes then slice and serve!