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- Meat and poultry
- Cuts of chicken
- Chicken thigh
This recipe creates a full of flavour smoked chicken thigh that the whole family will love.
Washington, United States
2 people made this
- 8 chicken thighs
- 4 tablespoons favourite chicken rub or herb blend, or to taste
- 200g butter
- 125ml BBQ sauce
- 60ml apple juice
MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:1hr15min ›Extra time:45min › Ready in:2hr15min
- Check the chicken and remove and excess skin, bone shards and/or veins. Trim to create a clean presentation.
- Sprinkle the rub on the chicken and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the smoker and butter, about 45 minutes.
- Set and light the smoker with a mild wood like apple or cherry chunks. Preheat to between 95 to 100 degrees C. Melt the butter in a disposable foil tray.
- Place the chicken in the melted butter; the butter should come about halfway up the side of the chicken. Adjust by adding more melted butter if required.
- Place in smoker and cook slowly at this low temperature for about 1 hour. Check the internal temperature, it should be at least 74 degrees C.
- Combine the BBQ sauce and apple juice then heat until warm. Add this to the chicken either by brushing on, or you can dip the whole piece of chicken into the sauce and return to the foil tray.
- Return to the smoker for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the sauce to set on the chicken.
See it on my blog
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I love great BBQ. I started Smoked Meat Sunday to share my passion with the world and teach people just how easy it can be to create delicious food on a pellet grill.
The Chicken Skin Problem
You are never going to get crispy skin on a smoked chicken. The temperatures that we will be working with are just too low.
What you aim for with thighs is skin that is so tender that you can cleanly bite through it.
The standard way of getting tender skin of thighs for a barbecue competition starts by peeling back the skin and scraping all of the fat off the back of the skin until it is translucent.
After the skin is scraped it is reapplied to the chicken and then the teams apply their secret rubs, injections, etc.
Scraping the skin is a miserable job and is the last thing you will want to do if you are cooking a bunch of these for a crowd.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and sauté the onion until it’s soft, but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the peach puree, ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, water, Worcestershire, Dijon, salt, pepper, thyme, granulated garlic and hot sauce. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until it’s slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
Let the sauce cool, transfer it to a jar and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
— From “Award-Winning BBQ Sauces and How to Use Them” by Ray Sheehan (Page Street Publishing Co $22)
How To Make Kick Ass Smoked Chicken Thighs
This is a relatively simple recipe that can be achieved on any grill that has enough surface area to create direct and indirect zones.
- 8 chicken thighs
- Brine (see recipe below)
- BBQ Sauce of your choice – 1 cup or so
- Brine Recipe: (this is enough for one large chicken so you can half the recipe if you like).
- BBQ Rub (you can use my recipe here if you don’t have your own)
- Fruit wood- apple, cherry, etc
- Hickory wood
- 1 gallon warm water
- ¾ cup kosher salt
- 2/3 cup sugar
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
Before Grilling Directions
Mix your brine ingredients in a large container and let your thighs sit in the brine for 4 hours in the refrigerator or longer before putting on the smoker.
- Oil your grill grates with canola oil so your chicken won’t stick to the grates.
- Prepare a grill for direct and indirect grilling with the direct side getting hot enough to sear the chicken briefly.
- Pat the chicken dry after removing it from the brine. Now, sprinkle your thighs generously with BBQ rub.
- With the lid off, sear the chicken thighs quickly on the direct side- just until you start to get some coloration or char marks (a few minutes per side).
- Now, gently put the thighs on the indirect side. Add your wood to the coals. At this point, put the lid on the grill and close the vents to a small crack. You want to get your grill temp down to 250 degrees. If you have a BBQ thermometer with dual thermometers such as the Thermoworks Smoke with a coupler for the grill grate– now is the time to use it. You want to ensure that the actual grates are at this temp. My dad uses a candy thermometer and sticks it into the vents of his weber kettle to accomplish this. Do what works best for you.
- The chicken should smoke for 45-50 minutes or until the internal temp reads 165 degrees with an internal read thermometer such as the Thermapen (I love my thermapen!). If you’re curious about what internal temp any protein you’re cooking should reach, check out our BBQ Calculator! During the last 5 minutes, apply a coat of your favorite bbq sauce with a brush and it will form a nice golden glaze while on the grill in the last 5 minutes.
- Once you’ve reached the proper internal temp of 165 degrees, take the chicken off the grill and let it rest tented under foil for 10 minutes.
- Serve with your favorite sides! I always pair this with my favorite slaw- I love this with my Charleston style coleslaw recipe.
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Did you enjoy these smoked chicken thighs? Check out these related posts! And don’t forget to leave me a comment below on how your cook turned out!
Tips And Tricks For Success
- Choose thighs that are about the same size and weight when purchasing them at the store or butchers. This will ensure you will not have to worry whether they will cook evenly or be ready at the same time.
- When preparing for smoking, you want to remove any fat under the skin. Gently pull back the skin in one direction so that one side is still attached to the flesh. Using a sharp knife, cut off any fat pockets you may find and discard. Place the skin back over the meat.
- For a chicken thigh brine recipe, layer the thighs in a deep bowl or roasting pan. Using dill pickle juice, or kosher salt, brown sugar, and water mixture, cover and soak the chicken with the brine. Let chill for four hours.
- During the soaking time, prepare your favorite dry rub and barbecue sauce.
- Here are some smoked chicken thighs rub recipe ideas if you want to try something different.
- ½ cup cider vinegar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup chopped shallot, (about 2 medium)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
- 1 cup wood chips, such as apple or hickory, in a foil pouch
Whisk vinegar, oil and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in shallots and garlic. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to 3 hours.2. Meanwhile, soak wood chips in a bowl of water for 20 minutes.3. Fold a 12-by-20-inch piece of heavy-duty foil in half to create a 12-by-10-inch double-thick piece. Transfer wet wood chips to the center of the foil, allowing as much water as possible to drip back into the bowl. Create a packet by folding the short ends of the foil over the wood chips and folding the open ends to seal them.
Place the packet of wood chips, pierced-side up, under the grill rack and on top of the burners. Close the lid. Turn the heat to high and allow the grill and packet to heat until the chips smell smoky and smoke begins to billow from under the lid, about 15 minutes (don't worry if the packet temporarily catches on fire). Make 6 holes in the top of the foil packet using a skewer or the tip of a knife.
Transfer the chicken to the grill, allowing excess marinade to drip back into the bowl (discard marinade). Grill the chicken, turning once, until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Serve hot or chilled.
Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe
If you are looking for a tasty recipe that gives you the chance to let your smoker do the work, this smoked chicken thighs recipe is the answer.
I&rsquom all about easy smoked recipes. The rub is easily made with ingredients right from your pantry and the entire recipe takes only a couple of hours. It tastes so good you can even serve it at the holidays or on special occasions year round.
I&rsquove used this recipe several times, mostly for family dinners. But, one time last year, we had some guests coming over and I found that the only thing I could throw in the smoker was some chicken thighs we got on special. Of course, I could have just grilled something, but I love to get the smoker going when we have guests coming. So, out came the family recipe for smoked chicken thighs.
It was a hit! Our guests raved about the flavor and begged for the recipe. When I told them how easy it was, they were floored. They loved the tasty thighs paired with coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread. But, these thighs are versatile enough to work with almost any side dish you have.
What Makes a Good Chicken Thigh Recipe
Chicken thighs are naturally fattier and more flavorful than chicken breasts. When selecting a chicken thigh recipe, it&rsquos important to keep this difference in mind. You want to bring the most flavor and juice to the table as possible.
When you buy thighs in the supermarket, you likely see them with skin still attached. That skin helps retain the moisture in the piece as it cooks and also imparts additional flavor. A thigh recipe should not require the removal of this skin during the cooking process. You can remove it after if you want to reduce the amount of calories you eat.
Thigh meat absorbs flavor quite well. The smoking process is perfect with chicken thighs because it absorbs the flavor of the smoke in a short amount of time. However, a rub, marinade, dredge, or braise will enhance the flavors, no matter how you decide to cook the meat.
A good chicken recipe will require that you check the meat for temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to a minimum of 165F. But, you also don&rsquot want to overcook it as will dry out even the fattier cut of the thigh.
Check the meat temperature often as you reach the recommended cooking time. You may find you need to pull the meat a few minutes early or let it stay in a bit longer to reach the 165F.
How To Make The Best Smoked Chicken Thighs
The first thing I do when smoking chicken thighs is to trim the extra fat. I&rsquom not talking about stripping the entire skin but scrape the excess fat that usually hangs off the edge of the meat.
Once you&rsquove clean up the meat, it is time to work on the spice rub. There are a variety of rubs you can use for chicken. For this recipe, I used simple ingredients. Most the ingredients on the list you probably already have in your pantry.
No matter what type of rub you use, the secret is to coat your chicken well with the spice rub. Both sides of the meat and even under the skin.
You can also brine the chicken before smoking. I did not brine the chicken for this recipe but if you prefer to brine the meat, use a simple salt and water brine. Mix a cup of kosher salt with a gallon of water.
Electric smoker chicken thighs
Can you follow these same instructions if you have an electric smoker too? Of course. Those models typically use wood chips instead of pellets but work similarly.
I love the fact that ours has WiFi so we can check the temperature right on our phones. If you haven&rsquot chosen one, or looking to upgrade yours I would highly recommend this upgrade.
- I like this electric thermometer too if yours doesn&rsquot have one built in.
- It makes it really easy to check the internal temp for everything including beef and chicken wings on the grill.
Why is my smoked chicken skin rubbery?
When smoking skin-on chicken, the fat in the skin doesn&rsquot get hot enough to for golden brown crispy chicken skin. Unlike grilled chicken, or when you make air fryer chicken thighs the skins will look much different.
With that said these will have an amazing smoke flavor and is some of the most delicious chicken you&rsquoll ever taste.
Ways to solve this problem are: to put them on a sheet pan and under the broiler, throw them into the air fryer at 400 for a few minutes, or sear the outsides in a pan.
- We don&rsquot bother with any of these steps because none of us eat chicken skin. Whether it is crispy or softer like this it gets stripped off either way before consuming.
- Many times I will use skinless bone-in thighs for this reason. That way the meat soaks up more of the marinade, and we aren&rsquot skin lovers to begin with.
Looking for other smoked meats?
- If you haven&rsquot made a smoked turkey yet it is incredible. is super flavorful and a new way to try a whole bird.
- Then give bacon wrapped pork chops a whirl at home.
Want to see a few of my favorite things you might want to write on your Christmas list this year. 😉 Take a peek and see how many you might already have&helliptwinsies!
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Do you remove chicken skin before smoking?
Chicken skin is a tricky thing, especially on a smoker. If you aren&rsquot going to fry the chicken post-smoke, I DO recommend removing the skin.
There is literally nothing worse than rubbery, floppy chicken skin on chicken. I can&rsquot stand it, and immediately pull it off anything I&rsquom eating. If skin isn&rsquot crispy I don&rsquot want it, please, thank you, and everything in-between.
That being said, it is REALLY hard to get crispy skin on chicken without oil and a searing-hot fry pan, so have some grace with your family grill-master. Not everyone can fire up a fry pan after the food is done for this last step.
I DO recommed removing that chicken skin if you aren&rsquot going to treat it properly though.
See all of my chicken recipes!
Should you wrap chicken in foil to smoke?
Nope! I don&rsquot wrap anything in foil when I smoke it because I actually enjoy the flavor of the wood-fire. Wrapping things before smoking kind of defeats the purpose of smoking as a whole, so don&rsquot do that.
Some people wrap things like brisket in butcher paper at a certain point, and I&rsquom on board with these shenanigans, but in general just let the grill do its thing.
If you need to wrap in foil you might as well cook that ish in the oven because the smoke isn&rsquot doing a thing for you in that case.
How long does it take to smoke chicken?
Stop asking this. Pleaseeeeeee stop.
Never cook to time. ALWAYS cook to temp.
That is the 1st commandment of proper BBQ. If you need a stop-watch you AREN&rsquoT DOING IT RIGHT. Period. I&rsquom throwing down the gauntlet here because it is SO important.
BBQ isn&rsquot a science it is an art, and a part of that art is interpreting what is what and when is when and things need as much time as they need to reach the ideal temperatures, and there&rsquos nothing you can do beyond praying to make that work out the way you&rsquod like it to.
So get yourself a good, reliable wireless thermometer, and Hakuna Matata a little and don&rsquot have set &ldquodinner time&rdquo when you are dealing with pellet grilling. Pull the meat when it says it is time to pull it, and not before.
How do you get crispy chicken skin on a pellet grill?
Oh this one is simple you guys.
I know people wanna argue.
Baking soda in the dry rub!
All the things, but NO. You will not get traditional crispy chicken skin without a fry pan and oil, period. No arguments necessary.
If you want to get both crispy chicken skin AND chicken that isn&rsquot overcooked, you need to break out that cast iron, some oil and do a quick pan-fry on the skin-side before serving that.
Pellet Grill Chicken Recipes
21 tried-and-true pellet grill recipes featuring chicken! From whole chickens and chicken legs to a white wine chicken and mushrooms to serve over a big plate of pasta, you&rsquore going to find it all here.
What temperature should chicken be smoked at?
This is pretty subjective. Smoking is an art, really. You&rsquoll get the most smoke flavor on chicken between 180-200°, in my experience, so that&rsquos where I like to start when I am smoking chicken.
What you turn it to after the smoke it really up to you. Experiment with what works best for you, or follow my recipes. It&rsquoll work out.
As you can see, there are multiple ways to go about smoking a batch of chicken thighs . However, you decide to cook them, remember to first scrape away the excess fat and skin, since fat only increases the risk of a flare-up. Also consider brining your thighs before you even think of seasoning them, you will be rewarded with flavor and tenderness. The only task after following one of the above recipes, or going your own way after being inspired by them, is to come up with some side dishes to complement the meal. Starches work wonderfully as a counterbalance to the protein of the chicken and the multitudinous flavors imbued by brining, rubbing and wood-smoking. Consider going with macaroni and cheese, rice pilaf, potato wedges or even some homemade cornbread as a side dish to pair with your awesome thighs.
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