I am excited to share my bacon wrapped chicken breast recipe that is not only beautiful and tasty, but it's also very simple. Chicken breasts have never been my favorite part of the chicken and when there's a bucket, I'm the one diving for the thighs and drumsticks but this recipe makes me change my mind about breast meat every time.
In the recipe below, I will show you how to make the white meat super juicy, super flavorful and do it in right around 5 hours.
Wrapping chicken breasts in bacon is not a new idea but it's certainly a great way to keep lean meat moist and protected from drying out while in the smoker.
What You'll Need
4-6 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
1 each red, orange and yellow sweet peppers
2 packages of regular cut bacon (2-3 slices per breast)
Brining the Chicken Breasts (optional but recommended)
If you have not heard of brining, it's actually quite simple. In its most basic form, you dissolve kosher salt into cold water to make a briny solution. The meat is soaked in this solution for several hours to allow some of the water to be drawn into the meat.
Via some kind of really cool food magic, the solution gets drawn into the meat along with a little of the salt and it causes the meat to be a lot juicier when it's finished cooking than it would be if you did not brine it.
You can add things like hot sauce, fruit juice, beer, Worcestershire, and just about anything else you can think of and after soaking the meat in the brine, the flavors that were added to the brine will end up inside of the meat.
You can also add things like rosemary, thyme, and even cinnamon but if you add things that do not easily dissolve, you will need to heat the brine to a low simmer and hold it there for 10- 15 minutes to get the oils from the herbs to leech out into the brine. The brine will then need to be cooled to less than 40°F before allowing it to come in contact with the meat.
All brining should be done in the refrigerator or kept below 40°F for safety.
For this recipe, I didn't go crazy with a lot of different flavors, I just went with the basics– water, salt and a little brown sugar. Here's my recipe for the brine:
4 cups of cold drinking water
¼ cup of coarse kosher salt
¼ cup of dark brown sugar
Pour the water into a pitcher then add the salt.
Stir until the salt is dissolved and the water returns to clear.
Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
Pour the brine over the chicken breasts until covered
Cover with lid or plastic wrap and place the bowl in the fridge to keep cold.
I soaked the 6 chicken breasts in a deep glass container for 2 hours flipping them over at the halfway mark to make sure they were evenly submerged.
Preparing the Chicken Breasts
After rinsing the breasts to make sure there was no extra salt on the outside of the meat, I laid the breast down in the brining bowl and covered them with my original rub (purchase recipe here), I then flipped them over and coated the other side with rub making sure they were well coated. The rub adds an amazing layer of flavor to the breasts.
I could have used some oil or even mustard to make the rub stick better but since they were wet from the brining, I just added the rub directly to the meat with no further help needed.
Lay 2-3 strips of bacon butted up against each other on a cutting board or flat surface. Lay one of the breasts across the bacon leaving enough bacon on the left side to wrap it over just a little.
Update 1-13-2016: Stretch the bacon as you wrap it around to make it longer and thinner. This allows you to use less bacon and it will have a better crisp to it.
Roll the breast over a couple of times to completely wrap it in the bacon and use toothpicks to hold the bacon in place.
Poke each toothpick through a pepper ring just before sticking it through the bacon to add a little color and flavor to the chicken breast.
At this point, lay the bacon wrapped chicken breasts aside and go get the smoker ready for cooking.
Smoking the Chicken Breasts
Setup the smoker for about 230°F for best results. Chicken does not benefit from low and slow cooking in the way that most meats do however, slowing it down does give the chicken more time with the smoke and that is worth the wait to me. The low heat also allows you to use my tasty rub (order the recipes) with no chance of it burning.
I opted to use cherry wood (I love cherry and I use it a lot!) on these chicken breasts and I decided early on to keep the smoke going for the entire time the meat was in the smoker. For those of you using a wood smoker, this is the only option but if you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, you do have the option to only keep the smoke going for part of the cook time.
My recommendation is to keep the smoke going for at least half of your estimated cook time.. in the case of these breasts, I am expecting about 3 hours so I would do at least 1.5 to 2 hours of smoke.
Once the smoker is ready, go get the chicken breasts and place them directly on the grate leaving about 1 inch of space between them to allow the smoke to completely surround them.
I am estimating about 3 hours of cook time but that will depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts that you purchased.
Be sure to use a digital probe meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the breasts and so you can remove them just as soon as they reach their perfect safe temperature of 165 degrees.
About 30 minutes before they are finished, make up a batch of my barbecue sauce (order the recipes) and brush a light coating all over the top of them. This gives the sauce time to glaze over just a little and that just tastes so good!
Serve them hot with a salad, some rice or go homestyle with some mashed potatoes and green beans if you like.
Note: If you are using a water smoker or any smoker with a water pan be sure to fill the pan with water or other liquid and keep it full while the smoker is in operation. This helps to regulate the temperature of your smoker and will provide some moisture to the air reducing the drying effect on the meat.
Order Jeff’s Rubs and Barbecue Sauce TODAY!
✅ My rubs and sauce will be the best thing you’ve ever tasted and it’s a great way to support what we do!
Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.