Grill-Smoked Barbecued Chicken

Recipe Information

Total Time: 

1-16 hours; 35 minutes active



Plump chicken breasts on the bone take a while to cook and this “low and slow” method really infuses them with earthy smoke flavors. Cook a few extra breasts to shred for sandwiches the next day.


  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Smoky barbecue sauce


  • 2 cups apple, cherry or mesquite woodchips, soaked in water at least one hour
  • 1 spray bottle filled with water
  • Smoker box or foil to make a pouch
  • 1 instant read thermometer


  1. The day before, put the chicken breasts in a food storage container or zip-top bag. In a cup, whisk the lemon juice, paprika and oil and pour over the chicken, rub to coat. Cover or seal and store in the refrigerator overnight. If you don't have time to marinate, just rub the chicken with kosher salt and smoked paprika or pepper and let stand at room temp for an hour.
  2. Prepare the grill for smoking (see Tips & Notes for instructions).
  3. When the grill is ready and the cool side of the grate is oiled, place the chicken bone side down on the grate. Close the lid and let the chicken smoke, checking on the woodchips every ten minutes. If the smoke is pouring out, open and spray the woodchips with water.
  4. After 30 minutes, check the temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer. It will read 160⁰ F when the chicken is done. Continue cooking and if not yet at 160⁰ F.
  5. For nice grill marks, oil the grate on the hot side of the grill and brush the top of the chicken breast with sauce. Turn it and place it sauce side down over the hot grate, searing the surface. Coat the underside with sauce. After a couple of minutes the sauce will be lightly browned and there will be grill marks. Serve warm.

Tips & Notes

1. Create hot and cool zones

For best smoking results, create hot and cool zones on the grill. The hot zone is where the smoke is created and the food may be seared. The cool zone is where the food is placed to allow the food to cook more slowly and absorb the smoky flavor. If your grill is too small to create both a hot and a cool zone, check your food for doneness earlier as it will cook faster over the high heat

2. Prepare your grill for smoking

Heat the grill

Gas grills: Remove the grate, then turn the gas on high. If your grill has more than one burner, use a single burner on one side. Once the grill is hot, place the smoker box filled with soaked woodchips, or a foil pouch filled with the same, on the hot side of the grill. Replace the grate.

Charcoal grills: remove the grate, pile the charcoal to one side and light it. Heat until it is hot and covered with white ash. Place the smoker box filled with soaked woodchips, or a foil pouch filled with the same, directly on the coals and replace the grate.

Get the woodchips smoking

Allow the woodchips to start smoking. Once you smell the smoke and see wisps of it, you are ready to smoke your food.

3. Smoke your food

Pour a couple tablespoons oil into a cup. Dip a clean paper towel into the oil, hold it with tongs and quickly oil the cool side of the grate (if there are no hot and cool zones on your grill, oil wherever you plan to place the food). Place the food on the oiled grate and quickly cover the grill to allow the food to cook and absorb the smoky flavor.

4. Keep the flames in check

Have a spray bottle of water ready to douse out any flare-ups.

Nutritional Information

331 calories, 16 g. fat, 111 mg. cholesterol, 287 mg. sodium, 7 g. carbohydrate, 0 g. fiber, 36 g. protein