If you can smoke chicken breast, why not smoke chicken thighs.
Smoked chicken thighs are an excellent way to add flavor to an ordinary piece of chicken.
In addition to this, they are also the perfect meat to smoke for novice barbecuers.
If you want to know the best meats to smoke, check out our in-depth guide.
Dissimilar to other cuts of chicken, such as chicken breast or chicken wings, chicken thighs take longer to smoke.
This is because of a membrane surrounding each chicken thigh that has to break down for them to become deliciously tender.
That being said, it’s best not to rush the smoking process.
Luckily you’ve got a seasoned barbecuer to teach you how to smoke chicken thighs the right way.
- Why Smoke Chicken Thighs?
- Tips for Smoking Chicken Thighs
- How To Prep Chicken Thighs for Smoking
- How to Smoke Chicken Thighs
- How Long to Smoke Chicken Thighs
- Final Thoughts
Why Smoke Chicken Thighs?
Chicken thighs are often the underdog when it comes to other parts of the chicken, such as the legs, wings, or highly coveted breast.
However, they are cheaper than the aforementioned cuts.
Nevertheless, chicken thighs are still a popular cut of meat as they are moist due to their high-fat levels and perfect for smoking.
In addition to this, compared to other meats such as brisket that have to be trimmed, they cook relatively fast.
Chicken thighs are also considered dark meat, which makes them more flavorful.
In addition to this, chicken thighs cook quicker and give you a bigger portion of meat, unlike wings which require about 6 wings per person.
Tips for Smoking Chicken Thighs
Smoking chicken is not as simple as removing them from the packaging and placing them on the grill.
There are some steps involved as well as some tips that will help you yield the best chicken thighs.
Whether you use an offset smoker or a portable pellet grill, make sure it is clean.
You would not marinate chicken in a dirty bowl, so do not smoke chicken thighs on a dirty grill or smoker.
Ever noticed how boneless skinless chicken thighs cook faster than bone-in skin-on chicken thighs.
Leaner cuts of meat can cook quicker than fatty cuts. If you are cooking lean chicken thighs, make sure you check them at the 3-hour mark.
Whether you’re searing a steak or roasting bottom round roast temperature is critical.
You need to maintain the correct temperature throughout the entire smoking process.
Therefore, you need 2 thermometers. Place one thermometer near the top of the cooking chamber and the other near the bottom of the cooking chamber.
Alternatively, you can also use a dual probe smoker thermometer and attach one probe to the cooking grate and the other near the top of the cooking chamber.
Make sure your chicken thighs have a temperature of 165°F before removing them from the smoker.
Brush your chicken with olive oil before you place them onto the smoker.
Oiling the chicken thighs ensures they do not cling to the smoker’s cooking grates and slide off easily when you turn them over or remove them from the smoker.
Enhance the flavor of your chicken thighs by experimenting with different kinds of wood chips such as mesquite, apple, maple, or hickory.
Additionally, you can also try seasoning our chicken thighs with different spices such as garlic, chili powder, paprika, or cumin.
Do I Flip Chicken Thighs When Smoking?
Yes, you flip chicken thighs while smoking them. You should turn your chicken thighs over about an hour after placing them on the grill.
Brine the Chicken Thighs
Brining is an important step that adds flavor to the meat.
In addition to this, brining chicken thighs is an excellent way to add moisture to the meat.
There are many types of smoked chicken thigh brines available on the interwebs.
However, a simple pickle juice and salt base will work perfectly fine. You can also add peppers to add a kick of spice.
Pickle juice contains salt, garlic, vinegar, as well as peppercorns, making it the easiest brining option.
Stir in a little pineapple juice or orange juice to your marinade to add a hint of sweetness.
Place your chicken thighs into a glass dish with a cover and add the brine to the chicken thighs.
Make sure the chicken thighs are submerged in the pickle brine.
If they are not covered, add water and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Once you are ready to smoke your chicken thighs, drain the brain and pat your chicken thighs dry.
How To Prep Chicken Thighs for Smoking
When it comes to smoking chicken thighs, the skin is the most common concern.
Ultimately, you hope to end up with perfectly smoked chicken thighs with crispy skin. However, this isn’t always the case.
Because the chicken thighs will be smoked at a low temperature, the skin can be as rubbery as leather and tough as nails to chew.
However, there is a way to combat rubbery chicken skin. Peel the skin back on your chicken thighs, then remove the chicken fat.
Make sure you scrape the chicken fat off of the back of the skin. Your chicken skin should be transparent.
Next, coat the meat with butter and place the skin over the chicken thigh.
The butter will make the chicken skin crispy without causing it to burn due to the low smoking temperature.
Furthermore, the butter will also enhance the smoky flavor of the chicken thighs.
Next, apply your BBQ rub to the chicken thighs.
How to Smoke Chicken Thighs
Heat your grill or smoker to 275°F. Once the grill or smoker is hot, arrange the chicken thighs onto the cooking grates.
Leave enough room between the chicken thighs so they are not touching. This will allow air to circulate between the chicken thighs.
As the smoky aroma begins to fill the air, you will be tempted to open the hood and see how your chicken thighs are doing.
However, do not open your smoker’s lid. If you do open your smoker, the heat and smoke sealed inside the smoker will escape.
You should only open your smoker after adding the chicken thighs to it after 1 hour passes to turn them over.
Cook the chicken thighs for an additional 30 minutes to an hour until they have a temperature of 165°F.
Although 165°F is the recommended temperature, smoked chicken thighs are fall off the bone tender once they achieve a temperature of 180°F.
Remember, due to a process called carry-over cooking, the chicken thighs will continue to cook once they have been removed from the smoker.
Remove the chicken thighs from the grill with a pair of tongs once they are within a few degrees of your desired temperature.
How Long to Smoke Chicken Thighs
How long to smoke chicken thighs depends on the size of the chicken, type of smoker, as well as the temperature you are smoking your chicken thighs at.
Different types of smokers have different cooking times.
Using an electric smoker will require less heat than an offset smoker because they maintain constant heat better.
On average of chicken thighs take about 3 hours to smoke.
However, if your smoker has a water pan, the chicken thighs will cook even faster.
How Long to Smoke Boneless Chicken Thighs at 225?
If you are pressed for time, 3 hours is sufficient time to smoke chicken thighs.
However, you should smoke the chicken thighs for 4-5 hours if you have the time.
How Long to Smoke Chicken Thighs at 250?
As previously mentioned, chicken thigh size matters. On average, chicken thighs smoked at 250°F should be smoked for 2 1/2-3 hours.
How Long to Smoke Chicken Thighs at 275?
Because the temperature is high, smoking chicken thighs at 275°F will have the shortest cooking time.
Chicken thighs smoked at 275°F should be smoked for 1-1/2 hours until they have an internal temperature of 165°F.
How Do I Reheat Leftover Smoked Chicken Thighs?
Reheating leftover smoked chicken thighs is similar to reheating brisket.
If you are heating your chicken thighs in a cast-iron skillet, place them into the skillet skin-side down and set it over medium-high heat.
This allows the chicken skin to re-crisp. Heat the chicken for 4-5 minutes until hot, and enjoy!
Chicken thighs are definitely a versatile cut of meat. Smoking them enhances their flavor and creates an irresistibly tender and delicious meal.
Best of all, even a newcomer to the BBQ world can do it! So, get smoking!
I have been smoking and grilling meat from an early age and enjoy sharing my knowledge and expertise through the hundreds of articles I have written about BBQ. I hope to make everyone’s BBQ journey that little bit easier.