Smoked Chicken Tenders

Looking for an easy-to-make and delicious recipe? Look no further than smoked chicken tenders. This flavorful dish combines the smoky taste of tender chicken tenders with a delicious marinade and a touch of smoke on the grill. Whether you’re planning a weeknight meal or hosting a get-together, these smoked chicken tenders are sure to impress.

To make this recipe, you’ll start by brining the chicken tenderloins to enhance their juiciness and flavor. Then, you’ll season them with your favorite dry rub or BBQ seasoning before smoking them at a low temperature for optimal tenderness. For an extra burst of flavor, a quick sear is added towards the end of the smoking process. The result? Juicy, smoky, and delicious chicken tenders that will have everyone asking for seconds.

If you’re ready to try your hand at smoking chicken tenders, keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to make this mouthwatering dish.

Key Takeaways:

  • Smoked chicken tenders are a flavorful and easy-to-make meal option.
  • Brining the chicken tenderloins is essential for enhancing their juiciness and flavor.
  • Season the chicken with a dry rub or BBQ seasoning for added taste.
  • Smoking the chicken at a lower temperature ensures tender and juicy results.
  • A quick sear adds an extra layer of flavor and caramelization to the chicken.

The Importance of Brining Chicken Tenderloins

When it comes to making tender and flavorful smoked chicken tenderloins, brining is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. Brining involves soaking the chicken tenderloins in a brine solution, which helps enhance their juiciness and flavor. By understanding the importance of brining, you can take your smoked chicken tenderloins to the next level.

What is Brining?

Brining is a technique that involves immersing the chicken tenderloins in a saltwater solution known as a brine. The brine solution typically consists of cold water, kosher salt, and brown sugar. This flavorful liquid helps infuse the chicken with moisture and ensures that it remains juicy throughout the smoking process.

Why is Brining Important?

The brine solution works its magic by allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat while simultaneously drawing out the natural juices from within. This ensures that the chicken tenderloins stay tender and moist, even after hours of smoking. Brining also helps to season the meat from the inside out, resulting in a more flavorful final dish.

How to Create a Brine Solution:

Creating a brine solution is relatively easy and requires just a few ingredients. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started:

Ingredients Measurements
Cold water 4 cups
Kosher salt 1/4 cup
Brown sugar 1/4 cup

Combine all the ingredients in a large container, stirring until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved. Submerge the chicken tenderloins in the brine, making sure they are completely covered. Allow the chicken to brine in the refrigerator for 60-90 minutes, depending on the thickness of the tenderloins.

Rinsing the Chicken:

After the brining process, it’s important to rinse the chicken under cold water to remove any excess salt. This step will prevent the chicken from becoming overly salty during the smoking process. Patting the chicken dry with paper towels before seasoning and smoking is also recommended to ensure a flavorful and crispy exterior.

Brining Chicken Tenderloins

Brining chicken tenderloins is a simple yet essential step in preparing delicious smoked chicken. It helps to keep the meat moist, enhances its natural flavors, and ensures a tender outcome. By taking the time to brine your chicken, you’ll end up with mouthwatering smoked chicken tenderloins that will impress your family and friends.

Seasoning the Chicken Tenderloins

Once the chicken tenderloins have been brined, it’s time to infuse them with a burst of flavor by seasoning them. A good dry rub or BBQ rub can enhance the taste of the chicken and perfectly complement the smoky notes from the cooking process.

To season the chicken tenderloins, you can use a homemade dry rub or your favorite store-bought rub. If you prefer making your own, an easy and delicious recipe includes a combination of brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. These ingredients work together to create a balanced flavor profile that elevates the chicken to new heights.

Before smoking the chicken tenderloins, lightly sprinkle the seasoning rub on top of each tenderloin. Ensure that all sides of the chicken are evenly coated to maximize the flavor. The rub will create a beautiful crust on the outside of the chicken while allowing the smokiness to penetrate the meat, resulting in a mouthwatering taste sensation.

Seasoning Chicken Tenderloins

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different seasonings and spices to create a rub that suits your taste preferences. Whether you prefer a hint of heat with chili powder or a touch of sweetness with honey, the options are endless. Feel free to get creative and let your taste buds be your guide.

Smoking the Chicken Tenderloins

Once the chicken tenderloins have been brined and seasoned, it’s time to infuse them with that unmistakable smoky flavor. Smoking the tenderloins adds another layer of complexity and depth to the dish, elevating it to new heights of taste.

Smoking Chicken Tenderloins

The smoking process is best done at a temperature of 225°F (107°C). This low and slow cooking method allows the tenderloins to absorb the smokiness while ensuring they remain tender and juicy.

When it comes to choosing the right smoking wood, it’s all about enhancing the flavor profile of the chicken. Hickory, cherry, apple, and peach woods are all excellent choices that impart a slightly sweet and mild flavor that complements the delicate taste of the chicken.

During the smoking process, it’s crucial to monitor the internal temperature of the chicken using a meat thermometer. The tenderloins should reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) to ensure they are safe to eat.

Once the smoking is complete, the chicken tenderloins will be infused with a wonderful smoky aroma and a tantalizing flavor that will have your taste buds singing with joy.

Tips for Smoking Chicken Tenderloins:

  • Preheat your smoker to the desired temperature before placing the tenderloins inside.
  • Ensure there is enough smoking wood to maintain a consistent smoke throughout the cooking process.
  • Place the chicken tenderloins on the grill grates, leaving space between each piece to allow for even smoke distribution.
  • Keep a spray bottle filled with apple juice or another liquid nearby to spritz the tenderloins periodically. This helps keep them moist and enhances the smoky glaze.
  • Consider using a drip pan underneath the tenderloins to catch any drippings and prevent flare-ups.
Temperature Time Wood Choice
225°F (107°C) 80-90 minutes Hickory, cherry, apple, or peach

Adding a Quick Sear for Extra Flavor

In order to take the flavor of your smoked chicken tenderloins to the next level, adding a quick sear is the way to go. This simple step can be done after the chicken reaches a temperature of about 135°F (57°C) during the smoking process. By placing the chicken on a hot griddle or pan, and searing it on both sides for a minute or so, you can achieve a mouthwatering caramelized coating that adds texture and depth of flavor.

When searing the chicken, it’s important to ensure that it reaches an internal temperature of 155°F (68°C). This high heat allows the sugars in the marinade and rub to caramelize, creating a delicious crust on the outside of the tenderloins. The sear not only enhances the appearance of the chicken but also adds an extra layer of flavor that will leave your taste buds wanting more.

Take a look at the table below for a quick summary of the steps involved in adding a quick sear to your smoked chicken tenderloins:

Step Description
1 Smoke the chicken tenderloins until they reach an internal temperature of about 135°F (57°C).
2 Preheat a griddle or pan over high heat.
3 Place the chicken tenderloins on the griddle or pan and sear on both sides for about a minute.
4 Continue searing until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 155°F (68°C).
5 Remove the chicken from the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before serving.

Adding a quick sear not only enhances the flavor of your smoked chicken tenderloins but also gives them an irresistible appearance. It’s a simple and effective way to elevate your dish and impress your family and friends with your culinary skills. Give it a try and experience the deliciousness of perfectly seared smoked chicken tenderloins.

Quick Sear for Flavor

Finishing and Serving the Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

Once the smoked chicken tenderloins reach the desired internal temperature and have been seared, they can be removed from the smoker and placed in a covered foil pan to keep them hot. This allows the flavors to settle and ensures the chicken remains tender.

The tenderloins can be served as a standalone dish or used in various recipes like sandwiches, wraps, or salads. They pair well with sides like green beans, asparagus, or mac and cheese.

Here are some serving suggestions for your smoked chicken tenderloins:

  • Create a delicious smoked chicken sandwich by layering the tenderloins on a bun with your favorite toppings, such as lettuce, tomato, and avocado.
  • Wrap the smoked chicken tenderloins in a tortilla with fresh vegetables, cheese, and sauce for a flavorful smoked chicken wrap.
  • Add the smoked chicken tenderloins to a bed of mixed greens, along with your favorite veggies and a drizzle of dressing, for a tasty smoked chicken salad.
  • Pair the tenderloins with classic comfort side dishes like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, or coleslaw.

Get creative and enjoy serving your smoked chicken tenderloins in a way that suits your taste and preferences. The smoky and juicy flavors of the chicken are sure to be a hit!

Side Dish Pairings for Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

Side Dish Description
Green Beans Steamed green beans seasoned with garlic and butter, providing a fresh and crisp accompaniment to the smoky chicken.
Asparagus Roasted asparagus spears lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, adding a touch of elegance and a hint of earthiness to the meal.
Mac and Cheese A classic comfort dish with creamy cheese sauce and tender pasta, complementing the smoky flavors with its rich and indulgent taste.

Tips for Reheating Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

If you have any leftovers or want to prepare the smoked chicken tenderloins in advance, you can easily reheat them for later consumption. Here are some helpful tips for reheating smoked chicken tenderloins to ensure they stay moist and flavorful:

  • In the Oven: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Place the chicken tenderloins on a baking sheet or in a shallow baking dish. Cover the dish with foil to prevent drying. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken reaches the desired internal temperature. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Avoid overcooking to maintain tenderness.
  • In an Air Fryer: If you have an air fryer, it can be a convenient option for reheating smoked chicken tenderloins. Preheat your air fryer to 350°F (180°C). Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until heated through. Monitor the chicken closely to avoid overcooking.
  • In the Microwave: While not the ideal method for reheating smoked chicken tenderloins, the microwave can be a quick option when time is limited. Place the chicken on a microwave-safe plate and cover it with a damp paper towel to help retain moisture. Heat in 30-second intervals, checking for doneness after each interval. Be cautious not to overcook, as the chicken may become dry.

Remember, reheating times may vary based on the thickness and size of the chicken tenderloins, as well as the equipment used. It’s always best to use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

By using these reheating methods, you can enjoy the delicious flavors of reheated smoked chicken tenderloins without compromising their tenderness.

Reheating Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

Freezing and Storing Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

Smoked chicken tenderloins are a delicious and convenient meal to have on hand for future enjoyment. Here’s how you can freeze and store them to preserve their flavor and quality.

Freezing Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

To freeze smoked chicken tenderloins:

  1. Tightly cover and seal the tenderloins in airtight freezer-safe containers or freezer bags. This will protect the chicken from freezer burn and help maintain its taste.
  2. Ensure the chicken is cooled completely before freezing to prevent condensation and ice crystals from forming.
  3. Label the containers or bags with the date of freezing to keep track of their freshness.
  4. Place the sealed chicken tenderloins in the freezer.

When properly frozen, smoked chicken tenderloins can safely be stored for up to 3 months without compromising their taste and texture.

Thawing and Reheating Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

When you’re ready to enjoy your frozen smoked chicken tenderloins, follow these steps:

  1. Thaw the chicken tenderloins in the refrigerator overnight. This allows for gradual and safe thawing while preserving the flavor.
  2. Once thawed, you can reheat the chicken using the recommended methods mentioned in Section 7 to ensure it reaches the desired temperature and maintains its juiciness.

Proper storage and thawing techniques will help ensure that your smoked chicken tenderloins taste just as delicious as when they were freshly smoked.

Freezing and Storing Tips: Thawing Tips:
  • Tightly seal and cover the chicken before freezing.
  • Use separate portions or packaging for easy defrosting.
  • Label the containers with the date of freezing.
  • Keep an inventory of your frozen smoked chicken for easy meal planning.
  • Thaw smoked chicken tenderloins in the refrigerator for safe defrosting.
  • Avoid defrosting at room temperature to prevent bacterial growth.
  • Plan ahead and allow ample time for the chicken to thaw.
  • Thawed chicken is best consumed within 24 hours.

With these freezing and storing techniques, you can always have a convenient and delicious supply of smoked chicken tenderloins for your next meal or snack.

Variations and Customizations

The versatility of smoked chicken tenderloins allows for various flavor profiles and customizations. Take your smoked chicken to the next level by adding different spices and seasonings to the marinade or rub. Get creative in the kitchen and explore the endless possibilities for experimentation and personalization.

Mexican Twist

Add a Mexican twist to your smoked chicken tenderloins by incorporating chili powder and cumin into your marinade or rub. These bold and aromatic spices will transform your dish into a flavorful filling for tacos or a delicious accompaniment to serve with rice and beans.

Italian Flavors

If you’re craving Italian cuisine, infuse your smoked chicken tenderloins with a burst of Mediterranean flavors. Incorporate ingredients like thyme, balsamic vinegar, and increased amounts of garlic and oregano into your marinade or rub. These aromatic seasonings will transport your taste buds to the heart of Italy.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and tailor the flavors of your smoked chicken tenderloins to suit your personal preferences. Explore different spices, herbs, and seasonings that can take your dish to new heights of culinary delight.

Flavorful Variations and Customizations

Variation Ingredients
Mexican Twist Chili powder, cumin
Italian Flavors Thyme, balsamic vinegar, garlic, oregano
Asian Fusion Soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil
Spicy Kick Cayenne pepper, hot sauce, paprika

Experiment with different flavor combinations and make each batch of smoked chicken tenderloins your own unique creation. Let your taste buds guide you as you explore the world of customized flavors and enjoy the delicious results.

Recommended Side Dishes for Smoked Chicken Tenderloins

When serving smoked chicken tenderloins, it’s important to pair them with delicious side dishes that complement their smoky flavor. Here are some recommended options:

1. Traditional Mac and Cheese

Indulge in the creamy goodness of mac and cheese, which provides the perfect balance of richness alongside the smoky tenderness of the chicken.

2. Smoked Corn on the Cob

Enjoy the charred sweetness of smoked corn on the cob, perfectly grilled to enhance its natural flavors.

3. Smoked Sweet Potatoes

Delight in the smoky, caramelized goodness of smoked sweet potatoes, which provide a satisfying contrast to the savory chicken.

4. Smoked Salsa

Add a punch of flavor with a side of zesty and smoky homemade salsa, made with fire-roasted tomatoes, peppers, and onions.

5. Smoked Baked Beans

Indulge in the hearty and smoky sweetness of baked beans, a classic barbecue side that complements the chicken tenderloins perfectly.

6. Smoked Asparagus

Upgrade your greens with smoky asparagus, which adds a vibrant and slightly charred flavor to round out your meal.

7. Smoked Baked Potatoes

Enjoy the classic comfort of a perfectly smoked baked potato, topped with your favorite fixings for a satisfying accompaniment to the chicken.

Experiment with these side dishes, mix and match, or explore your own combinations to elevate your smoked chicken tenderloin feast. Bon appétit!

Other Smoked Chicken Recipes to Explore

If you enjoy the taste and experience of smoking chicken, there are numerous other recipes worth exploring. Expand your culinary repertoire with these flavorful and delicious smoked chicken recipes:

1. Smoked Chicken Wings

Impress your friends and family with mouthwatering smoked chicken wings. These crispy and smoky wings are perfect for game nights, backyard barbecues, or simply as a tasty snack.

2. Smoked Chicken Breast

Create a healthy and flavorful meal with smoked chicken breasts. The smoky flavor infuses into the tender meat, making it a versatile ingredient for salads, wraps, or served alongside your favorite sides.

3. Smoked Ribs using the 3-2-1 Method

Master the art of smoking ribs with the popular 3-2-1 method. This technique ensures tender and fall-off-the-bone ribs with a perfect balance of smoky flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

4. Smoked Glazed Ham

Elevate your holiday feasts with a savory and succulent smoked glazed ham. The smokiness adds depth to the already delicious flavors, making it a centerpiece that will impress your guests.

5. Smoked Turkey Breast

Take your Thanksgiving turkey to the next level by smoking the breast. The smoky aroma and moist meat create a memorable and flavorful holiday centerpiece.

6. Smoked Salmon

Indulge in the rich and delicate flavors of smoked salmon. Whether enjoyed on a bagel with cream cheese or incorporated into pasta dishes, smoked salmon adds an elegant touch to any meal.

7. Smoked Cod

Enjoy a healthier alternative to fried fish by smoking cod. The mild and delicate taste of cod pairs perfectly with the subtle smoky notes, resulting in a light and flavorful dish.

8. Pulled Pork

Experience the delight of tender and juicy pulled pork with a hint of smokiness. This classic barbecue favorite is perfect for sandwiches, tacos, or served on its own with tangy barbecue sauce.

These are just a few examples of the many other smoked chicken recipes you can explore. Each recipe offers its own unique flavors and cooking techniques, allowing you to expand your culinary horizons and enjoy the art of smoking meats.


Smoked chicken tenderloins are a versatile and mouthwatering dish that will please everyone at your table. By following the steps of brining, seasoning, smoking, and adding a quick sear, you can achieve tender, succulent, and flavorful chicken every time. Customization is key, as you can experiment with different rubs, marinades, and side dishes to suit your personal taste preferences.

Whether you’re preparing a quick weeknight meal or hosting a special gathering, smoked chicken tenderloins are sure to impress. The combination of smoky flavors, juicy meat, and caramelized sear creates a taste sensation that will leave your guests wanting more. Don’t forget to explore the variations and other smoked chicken recipes available to broaden your culinary repertoire and discover new flavors.

So, fire up your smoker, gather your ingredients, and embark on a flavorful journey with smoked chicken tenderloins. From the brining process that enhances juiciness to the final sear that adds a delectable crust, you’ll experience a symphony of flavors that will delight your taste buds. Get creative, try different seasonings, and pair your smoked chicken tenderloins with a range of complementary side dishes for a complete and satisfying meal. Dive into the world of smoked chicken and enjoy the delicious, smoky goodness!

Scroll to Top