These Smoked Chicken Thighs are so juicy and have the most amazing flavor. Smoked and seasoned to perfection, these tender chicken thighs are versatile and so easy to make.
Table Of Contents
I just love this flavorful and simple recipe for Smoked Chicken Thighs. They make a great summer meal for the family, or to serve at barbecues and get-togethers.
- TASTE: Marinated with smoky, salty, and sweet seasonings, this chicken recipe is really flavorful. The smoker pellets add a delicious element to make them truly scrumptious.
- TEXTURE: These Smoked Chicken Thighs are so tender and juicy. The smoker gives the outer skin lots of crispy goodness and just a touch of char.
- TIME: This dish takes just over 4 hours to make, but only 5 minutes of that is active prep time.
- EASE: These chicken thighs are really easy to make. Marinate, smoke, and serve – you can’t beat it!
What You’ll Need
- Chicken thighs- For this recipe, you’ll want them to be bone-in and skin-on. The bone keeps them moist and the skin will get so crispy and delicious.
- Brown sugar- This adds some sweetness to the seasonings, balancing out all that smoky, salty, and savory flavor.
- Seasonings- You can use any mix you like, but I love combining chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder for these Smoked Chicken Thighs.
- Smoker- This is what gives these chicken thighs their delicious smoky flavor. I use a Traeger Smoker, but any pellet smoker will do. We use hickory pellets, but apple wood chips or cherry wood would work, too.
Add-ins and Substitutions
- Substitute other cuts of meat- If you don’t have any chicken thighs, you can also make this recipe with wings, legs, breasts, pork, and ribs. Just adjust the cook time.
- Add other seasonings- Try these Smoked Chicken Thighs marinated in other seasonings, like lemon pepper, sage, Berbere, curry, or cayenne pepper.
- Use sauces- Toss them in homemade barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, teriyaki, or hoisin sauce. Or marinate them in apple cider vinegar for a tangier flavor.
- Make this without sugar- You can also sweeten the marinade with maple syrup or honey if you have no brown sugar.
How to Make Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Mix the seasonings. In a prep bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and paprika for the spice rub.
- Marinate the chicken thighs. Now place the chicken thighs into a gallon-sized ziplock bag along with the spice mixture and olive oil. Massage the spices and oil into the chicken and let it marinate for at least two hours, or preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.
- Smoke the chicken. Then fill your pellet smoker with hickory or applewood smoked pellets and set it to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Then place the chicken skin side up and cook for about 2 hours, or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches at least 165°F.
- Char the skin. Flip the chicken and bring the heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes to give it a nice char and crisp up the skin a little. Remove from the smoker and serve hot.
Pro Tip: Make sure to insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken (away from the bone) for an accurate reading to see if it’s done.
- Mix the seasonings first- Combining the seasoning and brown sugar beforehand ensures they will be evenly distributed over the chicken thighs as they marinate.
- Marinate overnight- If you can, let the marinade sit overnight because the longer the chicken soaks in the seasoned oil, the more flavor it will absorb.
- Preheat your smoker- You chicken will be more crispy if it starts cooking at the right temperature. The fat will render out once it gets hot enough.
- Cook the chicken with the skin side up- Positioning it like this allows the fat in the skin to render down into the chicken, keeping your Smoked Chicken Thighs moist.
You should smoke your chicken thighs for about 2 hours at 225 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165°F. Then bring the heat up to 500 degrees for about 5 minutes to give it a nice char and crisp up the skin a little.
The best way to get crispy chicken skin is by marinating it with some oil, which will help the fat render down and crisp the skin. Also, at the end of the smoking process, increase the temperature for a few minutes to lightly char and crisp the chicken thigh skin.
This delicious Smoked Chicken Thighs recipe goes great with lots of sides, salads, and other barbecue favorites. Here are some tasty ideas.
- Meats: Serve these chicken thighs with BBQ Chicken Wings, Air Fryer Chicken Legs, Smoked Beef Brisket, and Barbecue Pork Ribs.
- Salad: They go great with cold salads, like this Pesto Pasta Salad (VIDEO), Cucumber Radish Salad, Pasta Chicken Salad, and Tri Color Pasta Salad (VIDEO).
- Sides: Pair these Smoked Chicken Thighs with Bacon Wrapped Asparagus, Super Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Crispy Air Fryer French Fries, or Easy Stuffed Mushrooms with Cream Cheese.
- Grains: Serve them on a bed of Wild Rice, Garlicky Israeli Couscous, Quinoa Fried Rice Recipe, or Easy Pasta Primavera.
Make This Recipe in Advance
Make ahead: You can marinate these chicken thighs a day ahead of time, then just smoke them when you’re ready to serve. You can also smoke them and let them cool, then store them in the fridge until you want to reheat them.
Storing: Store these Smoked Chicken Thighs in an airtight container once they have cooled. They can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Reheat them in the smoker, oven, or microwave.
Freeze: You can freeze them for up to 3 months in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Thaw overnight and reheat to serve.
More Scrumptious Smoked Dishes!
Full Recipe Instructions
Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Now place 6-9 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on) into a gallon-sized ziplock bag.
- Then add the spice mixture inside, along with 3 Tbsp olive oil.
- Close up the bag and massage the spices and oil into the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for at least two hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
- Then fill your pellet smoker with hickory or applewood smoked pellets and turn it on to 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Then place the chicken skin side up and cook for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165°F. Make sure to insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken (away from the bone).
- Then flip the chicken and bring the heat up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for about 5 minutes to give it a nice char and crisp up the skin a little. Remove from the smoker and serve hot.