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Smoked Chicken Satays or “Chicken on a Stick”

smoked chicken satays 1000

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If you've never had satays, they are marinated strips of meat on a stick and it's considered street food in many places. I love any kind of food on a stick and I think you will thoroughly enjoy these either as an appetizer or even as a main course.

You could also create a peanut based dipping sauce for these and it would go really good with the smoke but that is not what I was after in this version. Maybe next time.

Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Brine Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Smoker Temp: 240°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Hickory
What You'll Need
  • (2) packages of chicken breast tenders. (mine had 10 pcs per package)
  • 1/2 gallon of water
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (dark will work if it's all you have)
  • 1/4 cup of Hellman's or Duke's REAL mayonnaise
  • (1) batch of Jeff's original rub
  • (1) batch of Jeff's barbecue sauce 

Note: the breast tenders were about 1/4 inch thick or so. You could also buy whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts and cut them into pieces yourself.

Brine the Breast Tenders

Estimated time: 2 hours

Brining chicken and especially the breast meat, is such an important part of making sure it ends up juicy and tender. The fact that it's so easy to do means you never have to serve dry chicken breast meat again in any form.

To brine:

Mix the 1/2 gallon of water with 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup of brown sugar until the water is clear and all ingredients are dissolved.

Place the breast tenders in a zip top bag and pour in enough brine to cover. Zip the bag closed.

Place chicken breast tenders into a ziptop bag with brine

Place the bag down in a bowl to prevent the risk of leakage and place it in the fridge for 2 hours.

Set bag into a bow to prevent leakage

Note: About 1 hour into the brine is a great time to go get the smoker ready. You are looking for about 240°F if possible.

Once the brining process is finished, pour off the brine and rinse the chicken with cold water.

Rinse off the brine

Seasoning the Breast Tenders

Estimated time: 5 minutes

Here lately I have been using mayonnaise instead of mustard on chicken to help the rub to stick. If you think about it, mayonnaise is basically oil and eggs and you really can't ask for a better combination on the chicken.

Since this recipe calls for 20 pieces, you'll need about 1/4 cup of mayonnaise to get the job done right.

A dollop of mayonnaise to help the rub to stick

Stir the chicken around mixing it with the mayonnaise using a spoon or your hands if you like to get messy with it.

Stir the mayonnaise onto the chicken

Pour on about ¼ cup of Jeff's original rub  for great flavor.

Add the rub

Once again, stir the meat to mix the mayonnaise and rub and get a coating on the chicken.

Mix and mayonnaise to coat chicken

Getting the Chicken onto a Stick

Estimated time: 5 minutes

I did not get a good picture of this but it's pretty easy, just hold one of the breast tenders in one hand and push a stick through the center of the piece lengthwise.

Lay the completed pieces onto a Bradley rack or Weber grill pan as shown in the picture below:

Lay completed pieces onto a Bradley rack

I recommend that you get the smoker going while the chicken is brining but if you did not, you might want to place the chicken back in the fridge if it's going to take more than 30 minutes.

It is very important that the smoking temperature is as close to 240°F as possible and that you are able to hold this for about 30 minutes. Our main concern at this point is that the chicken does not overcook so I highly recommend that you stay right there with it while it cooks.

Note: I usually make a few extra pieces as testers.

Getting the Smoker Ready to Cook

Estimated time: 30-60 minutes (depending on what type of smoker you are using)

As I say in almost every newsletter.. all of my recipes are designed to be used in ANY smoker with no regard to whether it is electric, charcoal, gas or wood.

If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.

Note: In colder weather, it is advisable to preheat the smoker at least an hour or more before you are wanting to use it. Keep the door closed as much as possible and even skip basting if necessary to maintain proper smoking temperatures.

Smoking the Chicken Satays

Estimated time: 25-30 minutes

Place the chicken in the smoker

At the 25 minute mark, I quickly opened the lid and grabbed one of the chicken satays from the grate and closed the lid again.

It was perfectly done, and it was very tender. If you check it at 25 minutes and the chicken is not quite done, just put it back in and check it again every 5 minutes or so.

It is very easy to overcook these so be careful or you will have chicken jerky on your hands.

Smoked chicken satays finished cooking

Serve the smoked chicken satays with Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce) on the side or already brushed on.. your choice.

Serve them up


Due to the meat being so thin and it gets done so quickly, it is imperative to use a probe thermometer to get an accurate reading on the temperature of the chicken– this is the only way to really tell that the chicken is safe to eat.

I recommend using a Thermapen or a ThermoPop for these since these read in mere seconds and both have a really small diameter tip for things like this.


Regardless of what method you use, be sure the chicken reaches 165°F in the center.

If your chicken is a different thickness or the smoker is running at a different temperature, this will affect the length of time that it takes to get the chicken satays done. Make adjustments accordingly.

If you are wanting the charred look on the chicken satay then simply smoke them for about 15 minutes then finish them off on the hot grill with just a couple of minutes per side.

  1. Brine breast tenders for 2 hours.
  2. Rinse breast tenders and coat with mayonnaise and my original rub.
  3. Place breast tenders onto skewers.
  4. Smoke cook for about 25-30 minutes at 240°F.
  5. Serve with my original barbecue sauce brushed on or on the side.

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  1. Can I assume since this is done on a smoker, it’s indirect? Trying to imagine chicken in 25 min… after I just spent 2 hours smoking bacon candy!

  2. Jeff, I recently tried your chicken satay recipe, mainly out of curiosity. I was a little skeptical about using the Mayo but I did it anyway. It was such a big hit with the family that I cooked another batch less than a week later! Thanks again.

    1. Mark, all of my recipes since mid 2013 or so have printable versions at the end of the article. The earlier ones require me to go in and re-write the printable versions and while I am slowly getting those done, it is taking a while to get them all complete. I apologize for this inconvenience.

  3. Jeff…..it is sacrilegious…Satay uses only peanut sauce to be great…nice try, but barbecue does not cut it. I realize you are a smoker guy, but some things are best left original. I live in Malaysia part of year and eat satay mostly lamb and beef, but also chicken. This comment is with all due respect to you and your efforts to educate and share your cooking skills 🙋‍♂️

    1. Richard, I appreciate your feedback. I tend to get out of the box and break a few rules now and then, and that’s ok but it’s also nice to know how things are normally prepared for those who want to stay with the original.

  4. I have made these twice… At least a variation. I have substituted the mayo for plain greek yogurt! At least it sounds a little healthier. I will never cook another chicken with out brining it first.

  5. Thankyou very much Jeff, my reputation for the best smoked food barcecues in town can now be restored. I am about to start on the chicken satay, with your rub and sauce and my Bradley smoker I am looking forward to a very pleasant evening with friends. Thanks again. 

  6. Jeff 

    i am a bbq caterer in pgh pa .I am also trying a road side gig.

    the problem i am having holding ribs and chicken for any length of time

    any ideas