Problems smoking boneless skinless chicken breasts

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by rdfrahm, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. I'm having trouble getting boneless skinless chicken breasts up to the proper internal temperature.  They get up to around 155 - 157, then stall there and even come back down sometimes.  I brine the breasts in a kosher salt/sugar brine for at least an hour in the refrigerator.  I preheat my Cajun Injector electric smoker at about 250 for at least 30 minutes, then throw the breasts on.  They usually get to the mid 150s in about an hour then stall out there.  So I've been pulling them off at that point and then throw them in the microwave to bring them up to temperature.  I'm using an iGrill to monitor the temperature, using two probes in two different breasts.

    Any ideas what I need to do to get them to the proper internal temperature on the smoker?


    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  2. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That is an interesting problem that I have not experienced. Hopefully one of the guys here has and will have a solution.

    Please do us a favor and drop by Roll Call and introduce yourself  
  3. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Welcome to the family, Rich!

    Stalls are common, especially with bulked up meats and larger cuts. Temp drops at the onset or mid-stall are also quite common. With typical oven, slow-cooker or grill cooking, most folks don't typically use thermometers, so you don't see these things happening, but they do.

    Using probes allows you to get a good picture of what's happening with the food, but can also make some folks start to second guess...erroneous temp readings or faulty thermometer, improper probe placement with bone-in meats...lots of questions can start running through your mind. Don't let it pickle your'll drive ya nuts if you let it. Just be patient, watch the temps if you like, but set your alarm for your desired temp and just let it ride until the alarm activates.

    Cooking to temp instead of by an oven or stove-top recipe's suggested time and cooking temp are how you get a better finished product...not over cooked and dried out. Again, just be patient and let it ride to the finish.


    EDIT: also, be sure your smoke chamber temps are what you think they are...not many smoker temp gauges are accurate, and the thermostat for an electric rig may not run the rig at set temps either. An oven thermometer or probe on a grate just below the meat will tell the story.
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2012
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey Rich, I just caught the thermometer probe brand you're using. I can't vouch for their accuracy, as I've had no experience with that brand, so you may want to do a boil test to verify the probe reading. Don't submerge the entire probe, or water entry into the cable/probe joint may very well result in a damaged probe.

    Here's a link you can use to find what your water boil temp should be, based on your elevation, with some helpful info on how and why...if you want to go straight to the chart, it's on the bottom of this page:

    Oh, this brings up another thing to consider, regarding elevations: I live @ ~5,000 ft, and I find that a bit higher chamber temps (~10-15*) help to compensate for the elevation. If you're at lower elevation, you may be able to run at lower temps compared to what others may use if they're @ higher elevation than you are...just some food for thought.

  6.  Rich, you may want to try pounding those breasts out thinner and see what results you get. Are You wrapping them in bacon?  And the last suggestion is when they hit 

    150 or so wrap them in foil until they finish.

  7. Rich, I've never had that happen before, I'd double check with a different brand instant read digital thermometer.  I never trust the probes on my Master Forge electric smoker, but have also never had something as simple as boneless chicken breasts give me a problem, if I have all four racks loaded with meat, my smoker will stall and decline in temp for a half hour or so.  Like Eric said, I'd ride it out...or at least finish in an oven if you're not sure the internal temp is safe.
  8. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Any type of "stall" is simply evaporative cooling....You know you're meat is still moist in the inside, so it's all good.  

    IMO it's a good idea to brine breast because it's such a lean cut which is why i'll brine and then smoke @ at least 275.   It'll come out crisp on the outside and juicy on the me.

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