Perfect Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe

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This Perfect Smoked Chicken Thighs recipe is perfectly juicy and infused with delicious, smoky flavor and glazed with a luscious BBQ sauce. With simple ingredients you likely already have on hand and an easy smoking technique, you can easily impress your friends and family with this delicious, easy recipe!

Serve these delicious chicken thighs with a side of these super easy, smokey baked beans!

Close up of perfect smoked chicken thighs in a pan.

If you have yet to try smoked chicken, let today be the day! These smoked chicken thighs will become your favorite entree so quickly.

Smoking chicken features yummy, smokey flavor and a tender texture that sets it apart from traditional cooking methods. The extended smoking time allows the flavors to penetrate deep into the meat, resulting in a rich and satisfying taste that everyone loves.

And the best part? These smoked chicken thighs pair wonderfully with an array of side dishes. Whether you serve them with pea salad, coleslaw, potato salad, roasted root vegetables, or even by themselves – they will be a hit for sure!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • MAJOR FLAVOR – The smoke flavor adds incredible depth to the juicy chicken thighs. Pair that with a delicious quick DIY chicken rub and your favorite barbecue sauce for the best-smoked chicken thighs you ever tasted.
  • VERSATILE DISH – Customize to your taste preferences based on what you have on hand.
  • CROWD-PLEASER – This simple recipe appeals to everyone’s taste buds. Plus, it’s easy to make in large batches, making it ideal for gatherings, parties, and potlucks.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need the following ingredients to make these delicious Smoked Chicken Thighs:

Ingredients needed to make perfect smoked chicken thighs.

INGREDIENT NOTES

Chicken Thighs: You’ll need bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for the best, juiciest flavor. I buy the large packs at Sam’s Club, but if you are serving fewer people, this recipe can easily be halved.

Spices: The spices in the recipe is my go-to BBQ spice rub. It’s a simple blend of brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and other spices but adds incredible flavor and creates irresistible crispy chicken skin. You can use your favorite premade BBQ rub as well.

BBQ Sauce: This serves as a glaze for the chicken thighs and is added halfway during cooking time. It adds a sweet and tangy flavor that caramelizes during the smoking process, creating a rich sticky coating. Use your favorite BBQ sauce. Ours is Sweet Baby Rays 🙂

HOW TO MAKE SMOKED CHICKEN THIGHS: STEP BY STEP

Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the recipe card below!

Step 1: Preheat your smoker to 250°F.

In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper, if using.

Spices and brown sugar being mixed together in a bowl for the spice rub for smoked chicken thighs.

Step 2: Coat each chicken thigh with olive oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle the dry rub over the chicken, using your hands to press the spices into the chicken to ensure it sticks.

Raw chicken thighs in a red pan with the spice rub sprinkled on top.

Step 3: Place the bone-in chicken thighs in your preheated smoker, tucking in the loose sides so they don’t dry out. Close the lid and smoke for one hour.

Chicken thighs on the grill of the smoker.

Step 4: After the one-hour smoking time, brush the chicken thighs generously with BBQ sauce, close the lid and continue to cook an additional 30 minutes to an hour or until the chicken has cooked through. The internal temperature should be 160-165°.

Remove the chicken thighs from the smoker and allow to rest before serving.

Smoked chicken thighs being basted with BBQ sauce.

RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

  • Start with dry chicken. Remove the chicken thighs from the packaging and lay them on a rimmed baking sheet or tray. Pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. If time permits, let them air dry for a few minutes.
  • Don’t overcook the chicken. Chicken thighs vary in size, so checking on them regularly with a digital meat thermometer is best to ensure they don’t get overcooked. The internal temperature of the chicken thighs should be between 160-165°F when the probe is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature will continue to rise with residual heat.
  • Temperature control. Maintain a steady smoker temperature of 250°F throughout the cooking process. Fluctuations between high and low temperatures can affect cooking time and result in unevenly cooked chicken.

Confidence Tip

Don’t be tempted to dig into the chicken too soon. Let the chicken rest after removing it from the heat to allow the juices to redistribute back into the meat. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

STORAGE & REHEATING

  • Storage: Store leftover smoked chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheating: To reheat, pop the chicken in the microwave for a few minutes until warmed through. You can also reheat it back in the smoker on a wire rack or in the air fryer for crispy skin.
  • Freezing: You can freeze smoked chicken by wrapping them individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn. Then place the wrapped chicken thighs in airtight freezer bags or containers, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Freeze for up to 4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat when ready to enjoy again.

Additions & Substitutions

ADDITIONS:

  • Smoker wood variety: Use different types of wood chips, such as cherry, pecan, or apple wood to experiment with different smoky flavor.
  • Herbalicious flavor: Place a few sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme, on the grill grate of the smoker to infuse the chicken with aromatic flavors.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

  • Spice Rub: I love using my own dry rub for this chicken thighs recipe but feel free to experiment with different seasonings or spice blends to customize the flavor of your dry rub. Try Cajun seasoning, Italian herbs, or even a hint of curry powder for a unique twist.
  • Cut of chicken: Bone-in thighs yields the most delicious chicken with juicy dark meat. However, boneless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or chicken wings are all great options. You can even use a whole chicken!

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

What should I serve with these yummy smoked chicken thighs?

You can keep it simple and serve rice and/or a hearty cole slaw. Or, some of my other favorites are: potato salad, pea salad, green beans, or cornbread!

Do I need to flip the chicken thighs during the smoking process?

It is not necessary to flip the chicken while smoking. Cooking them in indirect heat of your smoker will evenly cook them without flipping.

Can I smoke the chicken without the BBQ sauce?

Absolutely! If you prefer the natural smoky flavor of the chicken, skip the BBQ sauce glaze entirely and serve it on the side as an optional dipping sauce.

Can I remove the skin off the chicken thighs?

You can smoke chicken thighs with the skin removed if you prefer, but remember that the skin helps retain moisture and adds flavor during the smoking process.

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A plate with the smoked chicken thighs ready to be served.

TOOLS FOR THIS RECIPE

Check out all of my kitchen essentials in my Amazon store!

Smoker: We have both a Big Green Egg and a Pit Boss and both work well! Other popular brands include Traeger, Masterbuilt, and Weber.

Mixing Bowls

Basting Brush

Meat Thermometer

I hope you love these Smoked Chicken Thighs! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

Perfectly smoked chicken thighs

Perfect Smoked Chicken Thighs

Casey Rooney
This Perfect Smoked Chicken Thighs recipe is perfectly juicy and infused with delicious, smoky flavor and glazed with a luscious BBQ sauce. With simple ingredients you likely already have on hand and an easy smoking technique, you can easily impress your friends and family with this delicious, easy recipe!
5 from 12 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American, BBQ
Servings 10
Calories 321 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 6 lbs. bone-in, skin on chicken thighs (about 10 thighs) See Note 1
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce use your favorite, we love Sweet Baby Ray's

Instructions
 

  • Preheat: Preheat your smoker to 250°F.
  • Prep: Remove chicken thighs from packaging and lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet or tray. Pat them dry with a paper towel and remove any excess moisture. Using a pastry brush, coat each thighs with a bit of olive oil.
  • Mix Spices: In a small mixing bowl, combine the spices for the seasoning rub: brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper (if using).
  • Sprinkle: Sprinkle the spice rub over the chicken, using your hands to press the spices into the chicken and ensure it sticks!
  • Smoke: Place the chicken thighs in the preheated smoker. Close the lid and smoke for one hour.
  • Check & Brush: After an hour, the internal temperature of the chicken thighs should be about 150-155°F. Brush on your BBQ sauce, close the lid and cook for an additional 30 minutes to an hour* or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 160-165°F.
    *Note: Checking the internal temperature of the meat a couple of times during this last hour. Chicken thighs typically vary a bit in size, so checking on them will ensure they don't get overcooked.
  • Rest: Remove chicken thighs from the smoker. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and and allow to them rest for 5-10 then serve.

Notes

Note 1: I buy the large packs from Sam’s Club, but if you are serving fewer people, this recipe can easily be halved.
Also, bone-in thighs yields the most delicious chicken with juicy dark meat. However, boneless chicken thighs, chicken breasts, or chicken wings are all great options. You will just have to make sure you adjust the cooking time DOWN based on the cut of meat. Boneless meat cooks much faster. Remember, take the meat off the smoker when the internal temperature reaches 16–165°F.
Note 2: My favorite all-purpose BBQ rub is the sugar and spice mixture in the recipe card: brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, and a little cayenne pepper. However, feel free to use your favorite pre-made rub as well. 
 
Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator
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Nutrition

Calories: 321kcalCarbohydrates: 14.6gProtein: 17gFat: 21.8gSaturated Fat: 7.2gCholesterol: 726mgSodium: 726mgPotassium: 280mgSugar: 11.4gCalcium: 19mgIron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




9 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Oh these smoked thighs were so so good. That spice seasoning has so much flavor! I don’t think chicken thighs get enough love, but this recipe will make sure we make them more often!

  2. 5 stars
    These chicken thighs turned out so tasty! My husband loved them so much he’s asking for me to make them again already!