Meaty, juicy, and flavorful, there are few things as easy and delicious as Smoked Chicken Thighs. Pass the napkins because this is a roll-up-your-sleeves and dig-in kind of meal!
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Everybody loves chicken, and once your family and friends get a taste of these smoky and delicious chicken thighs, they’ll think you’re some kind of wizard smoker!
There’s no magic involved in making these saucy and meaty thighs. Just a bit of Traeger know-how, good quality ingredients, and some time because you can’t rush a good smoke.
Smoking chicken thighs is so easy – you’ll master this dish in no time!
I looove my pellet smoker. I love how easy it is to set and hold a specific temperature, and with various pellets out there, I can mix and match meats and smoke to get the perfect flavor combinations.
Deep pellet flavor is more important in long smokes as more of the smoke flavor penetrates the food, but you’ll still get plenty of smoky goodness even in shorter cooking thighs. Plus, I have some tips below on how I always amp up the flavor on my pellet grill.
What Are The Best Pellets For Smoking Bone-In Chicken Thighs?
This is a fairly quick smoked chicken thighs recipe as smoking goes, so you don’t need to bust out your prized pellets. I love using a good hardwood blend for smoking these chicken thighs, and it imparts enough smoky flavor into the thighs without being overwhelming. I always have a bag of hardwood pellets on hand for making the best smoked chicken thighs.
But lately, I have been playing with charcoal pellets to add richer flavor when I use my pellet smoker. Cowboy Charcoal makes a few varieties that I like but Jack Daniel’s pellets have been my current favorite.
You don’t need to worry about marinating these chicken thighs – they’ll get oodles of flavor from the smoke and the combination of rub and sauce!
- Chicken thighs – Bone-in, skin-on thighs.
- Chicken Rub – I use GirlsCanGrill Chicken Rub, but your favorite rub is fine. Alternatively, a blend of brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, and a hint of chili powder works great too. I just love the ease of the chicken rub already mixed in the bottle.
- BBQ sauce – Grab a bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce for this recipe.
How To Make The Best Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then arrange them in a single layer on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Sprinkle the thighs liberally with salt and the chicken rub. Refrigerate the thighs for an hour before smoking.
Prep your electric smoker for 350-F, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean and oil the grates.
Arrange the chicken on the cooler side of your grill, skin-side up. Close the lid.
Smoke chicken thighs for 35-40 minutes, rotating them halfway through the cooking time so that all pieces are cooked evenly and cooked to an internal temperature of 180-190-F. Use a digital meat thermometer to get a precise reading.
Remove the chicken from the grill and increase the heat to sear. While the pellet grill is heating up, lightly brush the chicken in the bbq sauce.
Working in batches, place the chicken thighs skin side down to sear, until lightly charred to get crispy skin. Flip the chicken and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.
Remove from the grill and place on a platter tented with foil to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve hot with additional bbq sauce if desired.
- How much chicken do you need to buy? That depends on how many people you’re feeding – count on at least one chicken thigh per person. Count on two thighs per person if the thighs are smaller or you have big meat eaters joining you. These are delicious smoked chicken thighs, so make sure you have enough!
- Turning the heat up to sear the skin is important to get crispy chicken skin.
- Don’t serve undercooked chicken! Use a good digital meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
- Like it spicy? Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chipotle pepper to the rub before adding it to the chicken.
What To Serve With Smoked Chicken Thighs
Got room on your pellet grill? Toss on some ground beef patties for hamburger salad to meal prep tomorrow. But for sides to serve with smoked chicken, try this Smoked Potato Salad with your meal, or opt for Spicy Deviled Eggs, Skillet Corn, and all your favorite sides.
Smoked Chicken Thighs can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. You can also freeze them by packaging them in a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. They’ll keep in the freezer for a month.
Frequently Asked Questions
The correct answer is: your favorite barbecue sauce! Seriously, any sauce will work. Go with something sweet, something spicy, something smoky, or your own homemade sauce. Chicken is a blank canvas and can take big and bold flavors!
The beauty of cooking with a Traeger pellet smoker is that there’s no direct flame, so there should be no flare-ups. If you are using a grill where flare-ups can occur, keep water in a spray bottle nearby. With long tongs, move the chicken from the flame and spray the flame to extinguish.
You can use a smoke tube. This is a specially designed perforated tube that you fill with pellets and let smolder inside the Traeger. This will add even more smoke flavor to your meats.
If you don’t have a smoking tube, try a smoker box or foil packet filled with smoking wood chunks.
Or, you can add wood directly to your pellet grill. I add wood chunks to the far back corners of my pellet grill for extra flavor.
You could, but I don’t recommend it. You’ll need to check the temps a little more often. Boneless chicken thighs are skinnier than bone-in thighs because of the boneless process, and I find them best for direct heat charcoal grilling. Also, boneless thighs don’t have the skin on so really, they aren’t ideal for this recipe.
Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs
- 5 lbs Bone-in skin on chicken thighs.
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Chicken Rub We use GirlsCanGrill Chicken rub or Jack Daniel's Chicken Rub
- 1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
Prep the Chicken
- Pat chicken dry5 lbs Bone-in skin on chicken thighs.
- Arrange on wire rack over baking sheet
- Sprinkle liberally with salt and spices.1 tbsp Salt, 2 tbsp Chicken Rub
- Allow to sit in the fridge for 1 hour before you grill
Prep the Pellet Smoker
- Prep pellet smoker for 350 degrees F.
- Clean and oil grill grates.
Smoke the Chicken Thighs
- Arrange chicken on the cooler side of your grill skin side up. Close the lid
- Cook 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken thighs reach 180 to 190F with an instant read thermometer, rotating the position of each thigh halfway through so that all pieces are being cooked evenly.
- Remove the chicken from the grill and increase the heat to sear.
- Meanwhile, lightly brush the chicken in the bbq sauce.1/2 cup BBQ Sauce
- Working in batches, sear the chicken, skin side down until lightly charred and skin is crisp, flip and cook 2 to 3 minutes longer.
- Repeat with remaining chicken thighs.
Rest and Serve
- Remove from the grill and place on a platter tented with foil to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve hot with additional bbq sauce if desired.