This Easy Smoked Chicken Thigh recipe is a great way to add tons of flavor to simple chicken thighs. They are coated in a delicious dry rub and slow cooked on the smoker for about 2 hours, imparting delicious smoky flavors.
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Smoked Chicken Thighs are one of my favorite things to put on the smoker for an easy weekday meal. This is because they don’t take long to smoke and they soak up so much great smoky flavor.
I like to keep it simple by just putting on our favorite homemade dry rub, then slapping them straight on the grill. The pellets we use most often with chicken thighs is cherry wood, but hickory also tastes great. If you use a blend for most things, that will be just fine as well.
Ingredients You Need
- Chicken thighs – I use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, because I think it makes the juiciest chicken. A really big, thick thigh will need to smoke longer. If you use small boneless thighs, they will smoke faster.
- Olive oil – This is to help the rub adhere to the chicken and make sure the outside doesn’t dry out while it’s smoking.
- Dry rub or seasoning of choice – I always use my homemade dry rub, which is great on any type of protein you’re smoking or grilling.
- BBQ Sauce – It’s not necessary to put on BBQ sauce, but if that’s the way you like it, you can baste the chicken when it’s almost done for added flavor.
- Smoker – I use a Z Grills 700 series smoker for most of my smoking, though I also have a Traeger grill. You can use whatever smoker you have – they all work the same.
- Wood pellets – There are many types of pellets available. If you’ve already got pellets in your smoker, use whatever you have. I really like Hickory pellets for chicken.
- Meat thermometer – Many smokers have a thermometer built in, but if yours doesn’t, get an instant-read thermometer. I love this Thermapen.
How to Smoke Chicken Thighs
Preheat your smoker on the Smoke setting. I like to start with 15 minute on the smoke setting before I move it to a higher temperature, to be sure the smoker is running properly.
To prepare the chicken, pat it dry with a paper towel, then rub on the olive oil and sprinkle it liberally with dry rub seasoning so each piece is well coated. For this, I use about a tablespoon of oil and rub per piece.
When the smoker is ready, place the chicken directly on the grill. Smoke for 15 minutes on the smoke setting, then turn it up to 275°F. This will give it a good amount of smoky flavor.
Cook for another hour, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170°F. Remove it from the grill and rest it under foil for 5-10 minutes before serving. This will bring the temperature up to the perfect 175°F serving temp, and lock in the juices.
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If you want to baste the chicken with BBQ sauce, you can do that in the last 10 degrees of cooking. Once it reaches 160°, baste the chicken and do so another 1-2 times until the temperature is reached.
Cooking Temperature for Chicken
To ensure that chicken is cooked safely and properly, it should reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Using a food thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone to accurately measure the internal temperature.
Chicken breasts, being leaner and containing less fat, cook relatively quickly and can become dry if overcooked, so you’d want to remove it from the grill when it reaches 160°F, then rest it so it reaches165°F.
On the other hand, chicken thighs have a higher fat content, which means they can be cooked longer without drying out and are often more forgiving in terms of cooking time.
To ensure meat at the bone is no longer pink, you’d want to cook bone-in pieces, like thighs and wings, to 165°F and let it rest to come up to 170°F.
What Smokers We Use
Z Grills 7002C2E Pellet Grill & Smoker
We use the 7002C2E, which has dual temperature probes, a huge pellet hopper and pellet viewing window, with a large grill space and streamlined design. See this grill and more on the Z Grills site.
Traeger Grills Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill & Smoker
Did you know that Traeger created the original wood-pellet grill? The Pro Series 22 is the one most people choose because it’s compact, yet has plenty of space for cooking. You can use any type of wood pellets you like. See the Traeger Series 22 Grill on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to smoke chicken thighs at 275°F?
Chicken breast takes about 1 hour 15 minutes to cook to an internal temperature of 170°F when you have the heat on 275°F. However, this timing is dependent on how thick and big the chicken thigh is. Larger pieces will take longer to cook.
The chicken is ready to eat when it reaches 175°F, but if you rest the chicken under foil for 5 minutes after pulling it off the grill, it will rise to the correct temperature.
How do you smoke chicken thighs without drying it out?
When smoking chicken thighs, we coat it with a layer of olive oil, which will keep the chicken from drying out while smoking. It also helps the smoke adhere to the chicken.
Some people soak chicken in a seasoned brine for 3 to 4 hours before you are ready to cook it. This brine helps to impart flavor and keeps the meat from drying out too easily while it’s smoking. I haven’t found that it’s necessary to brine it, though. If you cook it to the proper temperature and don’t overcook, it will be super juicy and not dry.
Do you flip chicken thighs when smoking?
You don’t need to flip your food while smoking. The heat and smoke circulates easily around the chicken as it cooks, giving each side an equal amount of smoking. I do like to flip it over after the smoking phase however, so that the shape stays uniform.
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Easy Smoked Chicken Thigh Recipe
- 4 Chicken thighs bone-in and skin on
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons dry rub or seasoning of choice
- Preheat your smoker to 275°F.
- To prepare the chicken, cut off any excess skin, pat it dry, then rub on the olive oil and dry rub seasoning so each piece is well coated.
- When the smoker is ready, place the chicken directly on the grill, skin side up. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. This can take from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.
- Baste the chicken with your preferred sauce. Continue cooking for another 30-45 minutes, until the internal temperature has reached 175°F. Remove from the grill and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Cooking the chicken at a lower temperature than 275 will add more smokey flavor, but it can make the skin rubbery as well, so I recommend 275.
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Laura is a passionate home cook and grill enthusiast who has spent years perfecting her culinary skills, with a particular focus on grilling techniques and flavor combinations. Her fascination with the grill, smoke, and the mouthwatering results they produce has led her on an exciting journey to discover the best methods for grilling delicious and unforgettable meals.