My smoked bacon wrapped chicken breasts are brined, dusted with a dry rub, and wrapped in crispy bacon to ensure each bite is packed with smoky flavor!
What is it?
Bacon wrapped smoked chicken breasts look visually impressive, and they are fairly easy to make. Two thin strips of bacon are simply wrapped around the breast and secured with toothpicks prior to smoking. The bacon not only adds an impressive visual component as it browns and tightens up during cooking, but the fat in the bacon strips also helps keep the chicken’s exterior from drying out during the longer smoke time. Finally, brining the meat adds flavor and helps keep the interior juicier.
Leaner cuts of meat, like boneless chicken breasts, are more tolerant of high heat smoking temperatures because there isn’t fat and collagen to break down. This makes Bacon Wrapped Smoked Chicken Breasts ideal for cooking in a smoker, or over indirect heat on a charcoal grill!
If using a grill for this recipe, I recommend a kettle charcoal grill like a Weber. Add only enough charcoal to maintain a medium low heat, place 3-4 lumps of hardwood on the charcoal to smoke, and keep the grill covered with the lid as the chicken cooks on the grill grates. You will get excellent results.
Your easiest option is to do what I did, and buy a smoker! You won’t regret it.
Either method that you choose, just make sure you use a digital thermometer so you know when your chicken reaches 165 degrees. You don’t want to overcook it with second-guessing.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken breasts - Boneless skinless chicken breasts are recommended.
- Low sodium regular cut bacon - Since the meat is soaked in a salty brine, I recommend reduced sodium slices of bacon so the meal doesn't get too salty from the extra salt.
- BBQ Dry Rub - Use my recipe or buy your favorite rub from the grocery store.
- Kosher salt - Do not substitute table salt or your brine will be too salty.
- Brown sugar - Maple syrup can be substituted.
- Whole black peppercorns
- Garlic cloves - Garlic powder can be substituted, but cloves are much better.
- Wood chips for smoking - I use chunks of cherry wood or apple wood typically, but your favorite wood can be substituted if desired.
How to make it
Your smoked bacon wrapped chicken breast recipe begins by brining the meat. To do so, add all of the brine ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Then let the liquid cool to room temperature and add the chicken. It is important to cool the brine or the chicken will start cooking in the hot liquid.
Place the brining meat in the refrigerator and let it soak in the brine for two hours. For best results, flip each piece of chicken at the halfway mark so it brines evenly. After two hours, remove the chicken from the brining bowl or bag, rinse under cold water and pat the meat dry with a paper towel.
Next, fully coat the outside of the chicken breasts with your dry rub, then wrap the seasoned meat in raw bacon strips (bonus points if you can make a bacon weave!), securing the ends of the pieces of bacon with toothpicks. Place the wrapped chicken breasts in your smoker set at 275 degrees for 60-90 minutes. The meal is done when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.
It is important to cook the chicken to a safe temperature to avoid getting really sick. Your chicken is fully cooked when the meat reaches 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast.
Bacon wrapped chicken breasts will be fully cooked in 60-90 minutes when smoked at 275 degrees. The exact cooking time will vary depending on how thick your chicken breast is, which is why I recommend relying on a meat thermometer rather than a clock.
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Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breasts
- 6 chicken breasts
- 12 strips low sodium bacon
- ¼ cup BBQ Dry Rub or as needed
- 3 chunks cherry wood most other smoking hardwoods can be substituted if desired
- 4 cups water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon peppercorns
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- Boil all of the brining ingredients in a saucepan until the sugar and salt have fully dissolved. Let cool completely. (This step can be done up to a day ahead)
- Pour brine into a gallon bag, add chicken breasts and seal after removing most of the air. Place in the refrigerator for two hours, flipping once to ensure consistent brining.
- Remove chicken from brine and rinse off under running water to ensure the breast isn't overly salty on the exterior.
- Liberally apply your favorite BBQ Dry Rub to the chicken breast, ensuring it is fully coated.
- Lay two strips of bacon on a cutting board and place your chicken breast on top (larger breasts may need three while smaller chicken breasts should need two). Starting at one end, wrap bacon tightly around the breast, securing each end with a toothpick.
- Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
- Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees and add 3 chunks of cherry wood on top of the charcoal. (or per your manufacturer's instructions)
- Smoke until the chicken breast reach 165 degrees on a digital thermometer, ~60-90 minutes. Flip once during cooking halfway though.
- Remove from the smoker and let rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.
This recipe was originally published June 13, 2016 on FoxValleyFoodie.com.
When I smoke meats I like to maximize my use of the fuel and grate space. This is why I typically cook multiple meals at once. I highly recommend smoking my Crispy Smoked Chicken Legs with this meal. The recipe calls for a two-step cooking process, first cooking the chicken thighs in the smoker, then finished under a broiler. It is an ideal dish to smoke today, then finish broiling tomorrow for dinner!