This Apple Smoked Chicken Recipe is Brined With Cider and Herbs

A cider marinade flavors this apple smoked chicken, creating a sweet and smoky chicken entreé. Any part of the chicken can be cooked this way, but it's especially good with skinless chicken breasts.

Smoked Chicken Breasts On Serving Platter With Green Leaf Lettuce

Skinless chicken cooks nicely when smoked at the low and slow smoker temperature range of (210-240°F). However, when smoking skin-on chicken at those temperatures, the skin doesn't become crispy and appetizing. The meat itself is juicy and tender, but the skin is wet and rubbery...not very appealing. The cure is to smoke skin-on chicken at a higher temperature. I've found that at between 275-300°F, the skin becomes nice and crispy in the amount of time it takes to cook the chicken completely.

The flavor bursting from this smoked chicken recipe comes from the marinade. It's actually a combination of marinade and brine, since it contains a large amount of salt. The marinade recipe makes enough for three pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Making the Apple Smoked Chicken Brine

Ingredients

This brine recipe is enough to handle four large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, or six smaller ones.

  • 1 quart of apple cider*
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme, crushed to release flavor
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

*(This is sweet apple cider. Not cider vinegar!)

Combine ingredients, adding chicken breasts to marinate for 4 hours. Use the zippered food storage bag trick for marinating. It's clean and easy.

Smoke The Brined Chicken With Apple Wood Chips or Chunks

Remove the breasts and place in your smoker. The white breast meat needs just a small amount of smoke flavor. One small handful of apple wood chips in a foil package, or a small chunk buried in the charcoal will be enough. Put the smoke wood in immediately after the chicken. Meat and poultry absorb smoke flavor more deeply when cold.

Smoke the chicken at 225°F for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, the breasts should feel firm to the touch, and the juice will run clear when cut.

Chicken breasts can also be smoked at a higher temperature with great results. When smoked at 275˚ to 300˚ F, these can be cooked to completion in approximately 1 hour.

Remove the apple smoked chicken breasts to a platter, cover with foil, and let them rest for 20 minutes before serving.