Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe in 4 Easy Steps

Please enjoy and carefully read our chicken thighs smoker recipe.

Chicken thighs are quick and easy to smoke as well as being less expensive, fattier and more full of flavour than chicken breasts.

This recipe is for 10 chicken thighs, which will feed around 4-6 people depending on appetites and the side dishes you add.

Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe
Smoker Recipe for Chicken Thighs

Dry Rub for Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe

  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe – Step 1 Prepare the Thighs

Take your chicken thighs out of the fridge around 30 minutes before you want to smoke them, to let them come up to room temperature.

We don’t want to put cold meat into the smoker as it will affect the temperature and the timing of the cook.

If your thighs were in the freezer make sure they have thoroughly defrosted for the same reason.

Pat the thighs down with kitchen paper to dry them. 

If any of your thighs have excess skin or fat on them, trim with kitchen scissors.

As much as possible try to keep a uniform size to your chicken thighs to ensure an even smoke all round.

We are going to leave the bone in for flavour and to keep the structure of the meat.

Brush or spritz each of your thighs all over with a little oil or butter. This will stop the skins of the thighs drying out in the smoker.

It also helps the dry rub stick to the skin.

Now make your dry rub by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and mixing them together.

Starting at the underside of each chicken thigh coat each one generously with the rub, taking care to cover the thighs all over.

Chicken Thighs Recipe – Step 2 Smoke the Thighs

Get your smoker up to a temperature of 250°F.

Add your wood or wood chips to the coals of the smoker. We recommend a mild fruit wood like apple or cherry, but hickory is also a common wood for smoking chicken (although it will impart a stronger smoke taste than fruit woods). Oak also works well too.

Place the chicken thighs directly on the grills but away from any open flames so they don’t burn. 

At 250°F it will take somewhere around 1 1/2 to 2 hours to smoke your chicken. 

As ever you want to cook to internal temperature not to exact timings. In this case you want your chicken thighs to come up to 165°F before you sauce them, and then a final internal temperature of around 170-175°F.

Check your thighs with a meat thermometer at the thickest point of the meat.

This is a short smoke so you may not need to refuel at all, or maybe just once.

Check your thighs about an hour into the cook to make sure everything is going to plan, and take an internal temperature reading. 

They probably won’t be quite ready yet, but this will give you a sense of how much longer the meat will take. 

Once they are up to 165°F, it’s time to brush them with BBQ sauce.

Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe Step 3 – Sauce the Chicken

For the last 15 minutes of the smoke, we are going to brush the thighs with BBQ sauce.

This will give the thighs a lovely sticky, sweet glaze and beautiful flavour.

If you want a great recipe for homemade BBQ sauce try here:

If you want to use a ready made one, Pit Boss do a great range of BBQ sauces.

This recipe aims to get a tasty, juicy saucy bite from your chicken.

If you want a crispy skin on the chicken thighs leave out the sauce, and finish your chicken off at a higher heat of around 375°F.

Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe – Step 4 Rest the Meat & Serve

Leave the chicken thighs to rest for around 15-20 minutes.

As tempting as it is to serve them straightaway, resist and leave them to allow the juices to redistribute evenly across the chicken meat.

Serve the smoked chicken thighs with fries, BBQ beans, baked or mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, coleslaw or even a tasty green salad with red onion rings.

Not to mention some lime wedges and extra BBQ sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions About Smoking Chicken Thighs

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Chicken Thighs in a Smoker?

If you smoke chicken thighs at 225F (107C) it will take anywhere between 90-120 minutes. The only way to be sure they are definitely cooked is to use an internal meat thermometer which should register 165F (74C) when they are cooked.

You can also smoke chicken thighs at higher temperatures of 250-275F (121-135C) which will shave a little extra time off the cook – up to 30 minutes or so.

How Long Does it Take to Smoke Chicken Thighs at 225?

Holding your smoker steadily at 225F or 107C means it will take 1hour 30 to 2 hours to bring your chicken thighs to the correct internal temperature of 165F or 74C.

Should you flip chicken thighs when smoking?

How to Make Crispy Chicken Thighs in a Smoker?

There a few different ways to make crispy chicken thighs in a smoker:

  • Brush the thighs with olive oil after the first 30 minutes or so
  • Dust the thighs with a little cornstarch (cornflour)
  • Apply a good quality BBQ rub before smoking to help crisp up the skin
  • Finish the thighs off at a higher heat for a final crisp up

Should I Wrap Chicken Thighs in Foil when Smoking?

There’s no need to wrap chicken thighs in foil when smoking because they are small pieces of meat which won’t be in the smoker for long. Larger pieces of meat that are in the smoker for much longer (e.g. pork butt, brisket or ribs) and take a long time to cook need to be wrapped for part of the cook.

Can You Smoke Chicken Thighs at 180?

You can smoke chicken thighs at a lower heat of 180F (82F), but obviously you need to be prepared for longer smoke times. Alternatively, smoke the thighs at 180F for an hour or so and then increase the heat for the final part of the smoke.

If you enjoyed this recipe you may also enjoy our ‘Chicken in the Smoker Recipe.’

Or our blogpost ‘Smoker Recipes for Chicken.’

For another great article on the subject of ‘Chicken Thighs Smoker Recipe,’ try here:

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