The secrets to a perfect smoked chicken breast are chicken brine and cooking the breast to the correct internal temperature. Chicken breasts can be one of the most difficult meats to smoke well because they're so darned easy to overcook.
The best way to prevent overcooked chicken breasts is to keep constant watch of the temperature by using a remote cooking thermometer.
I'm in my living room easy chair right now, and I know that the
temperature inside my smoker right now is 237°F. I don't think I could
bbq without one.
Back to the chicken...brine it first, which helps it remain moist, then cook it to 160 degrees. When it's removed, the internal temperature will continue to rise up to about 170, the perfect done temperature for chicken breast.
Start with the brine:
Curry Chicken Brine
Dissolve the salt and sugar completely before adding chicken to the brine. And make sure the brine temperature is below 40°F for safety's sake.
Now you'll need:
Remove the skin and excess fat from the breast halves. Soak them in the brine for 2 to 4 hours. They'll be saltier when brined longer, and they'll have a little more taste of the seasonings. After brining, let the chicken air dry on a rack before they go into the smoker. You'll get better smoke flavor if the chicken's dry.
Place the chicken in your preheated smoker, which you've set at between 225-240°F. Throw a couple of smoke wood chunks in. I use hickory or apple, but you can use your favorite. Just keep the smoke on the light side. Chicken is delicate and doesn't need a lot of smokiness.
For quicker cooking you can set your smoker at a higher temperature. At 275 degrees the quality of the chicken will still be great, but because of the shorter smoking time the depth of smoky flavor will not be as intense.
When smoked at the lower temperature range, it takes from 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours for the chicken breasts to reach 165 degees. When smoked at a higher temperature you can figure on one hour of time in the smoker, more or less.
When the chicken is done, remove the breasts to a platter, cover them with a foil tent and
let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. The smoked chicken breast pieces will be perfectly done, and will taste great with or without
a slatherin' of your favorite homemade barbecue sauce.