If you think smoking is the only thing a Traeger grill can do, think again. This recipe for Traeger grilled chicken breast will show you how to make tender and juicy chicken with the signature grill marks and flavor. It includes a Tex-Mex style chipotle marinade, but you can easily plug and play your favorite marinades or seasoning combos. Let’s get grilling!
Grilled Chicken Breast Marinades
The recipe card below includes a Mexican-inspired marinade we like to use for making grilled chicken tacos, burrito bowls, and more. It’s a pretty simple blend of canned chipotle peppers in adobo, orange and lime juice, garlic, cilantro, salt, and a few dried spices.
In case you don’t have a go-to chicken marinade, here’s a handful of ideas for different flavor profiles:
- Balsamic, Soy, and Brown Sugar
- Honey Harissa
- Greek Style
- Spicy Jerk Chicken
- Beer Brine and BBQ Dry Rub
- Thai-Style Grilled Chicken
- Sweet and Spicy BBQ Chicken
- Mustard Balsamic and Rosemary
- Spicy Buttermilk and Hot Sauce
How Long to Marinate Chicken
Marinating chicken breast for two to three hours is plenty of time for the marinade to tenderize and infuse its flavors into the chicken. If you’re using an acidic marinade like this one, you want to limit the time in the marinade to 12 hours, as it can start to make the chicken mushy.
You can learn more about creating marinades and how different ingredients affect meat in this carne asada recipe.
How Long to Grill Chicken Breast on a Traeger Grill
At 500ºF on the Traeger, smaller 6-8 ounce chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160ºF in 20-25 minutes. While larger 10-12 ounce chicken breasts reach an internal temperature of 160ºF in 25-30 minutes.
Like I mention in our Traeger grilled beef fajitas, food at the front of the grill near the edge of the drip pan will pick up more direct heat than food in the center picking up primarily ambient heat. So be mindful of placement and keep an eye on food around the edges, as it may cook faster.
What about other temperatures?
You won’t pick up much smoke flavor when grilling at high temperatures on the Traeger or pellet grill, even with a 25-30 minute cook time. If you want to pick up more smoke, go with a lower temperature and longer cook time. My Smoked Chicken Breast and the chicken from my Smoked Chicken Salad recipes, for example, cook for about 90-120 minutes at 225ºF to 250ºF.
I recently did a cook off for smoked chicken thighs on a Traeger to find the best recipe out there. Check that out for a great bone-in chicken thighs method. Or if you’d like to use thinner boneless skinless chicken thighs, check out my BBQ Smoked Chicken Thighs with Alabama White Sauce.
I’m a fan of both high temperature grilling and the longer smokes at a lower temperature. With chicken breast, you can achieve tender and juicy chicken either way. So I would encourage you to play around with both.
Serving This Grilled Chicken Breast
We like to dice the chicken for tacos, bowls, and/or salads. Or if we’re feeling really hungry, we make “big as yo’ face burritos” (pictured below) a la Chuy’s Tex-Mex, one of our favorite Austin restaurants. We stuff them with refried beans, diced grilled chicken, cheese, and smother with queso. Their boom boom sauce is also a great choice.
What to Do with Leftover Grilled Chicken
I like to dice all the leftover chicken and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. That makes it easy to plug straight into future repurpose recipes.
If you make a classic BBQ grilled chicken, you could make BBQ Chicken Mac and Cheese, BBQ Chicken Quesadillas, or swap the pork in our Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese for chicken. You could also swap the brisket in our Brisket Fried Rice for this chicken, considering it’s a Texas-inspired fried rice.
All right, I think I’ve filled your head with plenty of ideas by this point. If you have a question about making pellet grill chicken breast I haven’t covered, leave a comment below. And be sure to let us know your thoughts in a review once you give it a try!
- 3 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
For the Marinade (or use your favorite)
- 1/3 cup (80g) Fresh Orange Juice (about 1 large navel orange)
- 1/4 cup (60g) Lime Juice (about 2 limes)
- 4 (20g) Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 3.7 oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo
- 2 handfuls (10g) Cilantro
- 1 Tablespoon (16g) Olive Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 1 Tablespoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
- Blend all the marinade ingredients together in a food processor and place in an airtight container with the chicken for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- When ready to grill, preheat your Traeger to 500ºF for 15 minutes with the lid closed.
- Add the marinated chicken breast to the grates and grill with the lid closed for about 25 minutes, flipping in the final 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160ºF at its thickest point. (Smaller 6-8 oz chicken breasts take 20-25 minutes and larger 10-12 oz chicken breasts take 25-30 minutes.)
- Let the grilled chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
You can discard any remaining marinade or brush some on top of the chicken halfway through grilling, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: about 3 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 2gCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 26g