October 24, 2022| By

Smoked Chicken Thighs

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr
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These delicious Smoked chicken thighs are marinated in a flavorful chicken rub, then slow-cooked to tender, juicy perfection in the smoker. This easy chicken recipe is perfect for Sunday dinner and weekly meal prep.

If you're looking for more easy smoked recipes, try my Smoked Chicken Breasts and Smoked Mac and Cheese next!

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smoked chicken thighs on a plate.
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Don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen? This smoked chicken thighs recipe is perfect for the busy person looking to bring home a taste of the barbecue.

If you're new to smoking meats, don't be intimidated! The smoker is hands-off once you get the fire going. You get the flavors of a cookout without the mess and hassle of a grill!

Using a smoker also allows you to enjoy your favorite barbecue recipes year-round, not just in the summer. And while the chicken cooks low and slow, you can tend to other tasks, or just sit back and relax.

Enjoy delicious chicken that's perfectly smoked in your own backyard with this simple recipe! You'll get amazing results every time!

Equipment

Ingredients

A few simple ingredients go a long with with this recipe

  • Skin-On Chicken thighs - Smoked chicken thighs are made from whole, bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on. I opt for both because they keep the meat moist and provide a deeper flavor. You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, however, the skinless thighs cook a little faster so keep an eye on the meat thermometer.
  • Spice rub - Smoked paprika (to enhance the smoke flavor), garlic powder, chili powder, onion powder, ground mustard, cumin, kosher salt, black pepper. This dry rub pairs perfectly with the smoky flavor and enhances
  • Brown sugar - This sweetness balances out the other spicy, smoky flavors. It also adds color to the chicken. Make sure to use fresh brown sugar so that it doesn't clump.
  • Olive oil - The seasoning sticks to the chicken better with this inclusion.

Variations

  • Brine - This recipe for chicken thighs does not involve a brine but you can brine and marinate at the same time. Use salt and water to brine chicken thighs before smoking to tenderize the meat. Just omit salt from the marinade to avoid too much sodium.
  • BBQ chicken thighs - Halfway through the smoking process, baste the chicken with your favorite bbq sauce. Alternatively, you can use a jerk or teriyaki sauce.
  • Boneless chicken thighs - While the flavor of bone-in thighs is unmatched, some just prefer boneless. The benefit of boneless chicken is that it cooks faster and doesn't have as much excess fat. You can buy boneless at the grocery store or debone your own chicken thighs.
  • Bacon-wrapped chicken thighs - If you opt for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you can wrap them in thick-cut bacon. This combination in the smoker is so yummy and also keto-friendly!

Tips for the Best Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • Peel back the skin and season the meat underneath as well as the inside for super flavorful, well-seasoned chicken thighs.
  • Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken and the heat of your smoker. Be mindful of cooking time, however, it's most important to pay close attention to the temperature of the meat.
  • Aside from temperature, a visual indication that your chicken is done when the juices run clear.
  • Don't skip the resting time. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat so you have the most succulent chicken thighs.
  • Clean the grill grates prior to cooking! This may be obvious, but I have to mention it!
smoked chicken thighs on a plate with a fork and fresh herbs.

What types of wood chips should I use?

Depending on your personal preference, you can use different types of wood chips to achieve a different flavor profile.

  • Apple Wood Chips -  this is my favorite! It's a bit more mild and has a fruity flavor that pairs exceptionally well with chicken. If you're looking for a pungent smoky flavor, you'll have to smoke the chicken longer because apple wood chips take longer to permeate the meat.
  • Cherry Wood Chips - cherry wood has a sweet flavor with mild smoky notes. I like pairing cherry wood with hickory for a more pungent smoky taste but still a nice sweet taste.
  • Maple Wood Chips - maple has a strong sweet flavor that pairs well with chicken. It's flavor is robust and reminiscent of ham or bacon.
  • Hickory Wood Chips - this is a hard wood that has a strong flavor, akin to the taste of bacon. It also has a subtly sweet flavor. This type of wood burns hot and slow so depending on the type of smoker, keep an eye on your temperature. I do not recommend these types of wood chunks for smaller pieces of meat like thigh meat because the flavor is strong and can be bitter. It's better for a whole chicken. To make the flavor a bit more mild, you can mix these with cherry wood - it smoothes out the taste and provides great flavor. However, if you prefer this type of flavor, these chips are great options!

How to Start a Fire in a Smoker

You can't make the best smoked chicken thigh recipe if you don't know the basics of using a smoker. If you're using an electric smoker, skip this part!

  1. Make sure all of the vents are open.
  2. Place fire starter in the charcoal starter/chimney and light. At the beginning, the coal smoke will be cloudy. Allow the fire to burn from cloudy to clear to burn off all of the chemicals.
  3. Once the smoke is clear, pour the coals from the chimney into the smoker and add wood chips on top. The wood chips will burn black or white - this is referred to as dirty smoke. Similarly to the coals, allow the wood chips to burn until the smoke is translucent or clear.
  4. Depending on the smoker, place the lid on top to maintain temperature.
  5. Ensure the smoker is preheated to 225 degrees F.
a piece of chicken on a fork.

How to Make Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, combine seasonings and mix together.
  • Add chicken thighs to a baking sheet and drizzle oil on top. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and coat all sides of the chicken with the seasoning blend. Optional - let chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours prior to cooking. This will give you a nice and crispy skin and very juicy and tender chicken thighs.
  • Place chicken in the smoker skin side up and cover with the lid. Smoke chicken thighs 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the thickest part of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. 
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the smoker. Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet/large pan over high heat. Sear chicken skin side down to get that crispy chicken skin, about 2-4 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  • Let the chicken rest until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 165 degrees F.

What to eat with Smoked Chicken Thighs

Crispy smoked chicken thighs are so versatile! Here are a few of my favorite sides to enjoy them with:

Storing Leftovers

chicken thighs garnished with fresh herbs.

Store leftover smoked chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge and consume within three days. Reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F in loosely wrapped foil for 15 - 20 minutes.

Recipe FAQs

Do you flip chicken thighs when smoking?

No. Smoking uses indirect heat so both sides cook evenly, without flipping.


How do I get the skin crispy on smoked chicken?

While marinating the chicken, let it sit uncovered in the fridge for at least an hour. The skin will crisp up nicely in the smoker later. For an extra crispy skin, I sear the chicken in a skillet after it's done smoking.

How do you make chicken thighs not chewy?

The key to ensuring your chicken thighs aren't rubbery or chewy, is letting them cook low and slow. Also, make sure you monitor the temperature of the chicken so you don't overcook the meat. That's why a smoker is ideal!

More Chicken Recipes!

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Let's stay connected on social media and continue to cook together! Also, if you decide to make this recipe, please leave a star rating on the recipe card and leave a comment below! Tag @BritneyBreaksBread on Instagram and hashtag #britneybreaksbread so I can see your creations! I hope that you love this recipe as much as we do!

smoked chicken thighs on a plate with a fork and fresh herbs.

Smoked Chicken Thighs

Smoked chicken thighs are marinated in your favorite seasonings, then slow-cooked to tender, juicy perfection in the smoker. A healthy alternative to fried chicken, this easy chicken recipe is perfect for Sunday dinner and weekly meal prep.
Serving: 6
Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 1 hr
Resting Time 20 mins
Calories: 272kcal

Equipment

  • Smoker Grill
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Digital Meat Thermometer
  • Wood Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 1 tbsp Onion powder
  • 1 tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground mustard
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ½ tbsp Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp Pepper
  • 6 Chicken thighs
  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees F.
  • In a small bowl, combine seasonings and mix together.
  • Add chicken thighs to a baking sheet and drizzle oil on top. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel and coat all sides of the chicken with the seasoning blend. Optional - let chicken sit uncovered in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours prior to cooking. This will give you a nice and crispy skin and very juicy and tender chicken thighs.
  • Place chicken in the smoker skin side up and cover with the lid. Smoke chicken thighs 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the thickest part of the meat reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. 
  • Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the smoker. Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet/large pan over high heat. Sear chicken skin side down to get that crispy chicken skin, about 2-4 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  • Let the chicken rest until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 165 degrees F.

Notes

Tips 
  • Peel back the skin and season the meat underneath as well as the inside for super flavorful, well-seasoned chicken thighs.
  • Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your chicken and the heat of your smoker. Be mindful of cooking time, however, it's most important to pay close attention to the temperature of the meat.
  • Aside from temperature, a visual indication that your chicken is done when the juices run clear.
  • Don't skip the resting time. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the meat so you have the most succulent chicken thighs.
  • Clean the grill grates prior to cooking! This may be obvious, but I have to mention it!

Nutrition

Calories: 272kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 671mg | Potassium: 293mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 853IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Chicken, Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American

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