This is the BEST Smoked Chicken Legs recipe. When smoking chicken legs you’re left with crispy skins and juicy meat. Smoked chicken drumsticks, just like Smoked Chicken Wings and Smoked Whole Chicken, only requires 10 minutes prep time.
Serve alongside Smoked Baked Beans, Smoked potatoes or smoked asparagus for a complete meal using smoked recipes.
Smoked Chicken Drumsticks
Chicken legs are coated in olive oil, a flavorful BBQ rub and barbecue sauce, then cooked smoked low and slow, to create perfectly crispy skin and a juicy interior, infused with light smoke.
We’re always looking for easy BBQ recipes and this smoked chicken legs recipe fits the bill. Smoking chicken legs requires only 4 ingredients and two hours of cook time.
We highly recommend using a quick and easy bbq mop sauce when making this smoked chicken legs recipe. It only requires a few extra ingredients and 2 minutes to mix up.
This mop sauce recipe infuses a ton of extra flavor and helps keep the chicken extra juicy. It’s 100% optional, however.
How To Smoke Chicken Legs
Coat ’em up, cook ’em up, sauce ’em up and eat! That’s it in a nutshell.
Smoked drumsticks can be made on any pellet, charcoal or wood grill. We provide instructions for all methods. Just make sure you have the supplies called out below.
- Charcoal – Pre-heat the coals until just washed over. Dump them in the middle of your grill and open the vents to 25%. Create smoke by placing wood chunks directly on the pre-heated coals.
- Pellet/Electric Smoker (Traeger Chicken Legs) – Pre-heat your grill to 275°F. Follow the manufacture’s instructions to get an even smoke when making chicken legs on pellet grill.
- Gas Grill – Due to the long cook time, we don’t recommend using a gas grill.
The goal is to keep the ambient smoked chicken temp as close to 275°F as possible. If you’re opting to use a manual smoker aim to keep it between 250 – 275°F.
How Long To Smoke Chicken Legs
It takes about 2 hours to smoke chicken legs to 165°F. The prep work takes under 10 minutes, so you’re looking at approximately 2.5 hours total from start to finish (including the 10 minute rest period).
- Energy Source – Make sure to stock up on your selected energy source: charcoal, pellets, propane, gas, etc.
- Smoking Wood – Chunks, chips or pellets.
- Thermometer – Always use a thermometer. Our go-to digital thermometer is the Thermaworks Dot.
Best Wood For Smoking Chicken
The best wood to smoked chicken is a fruit wood as it adds a light sweetness to the meat and doesn’t overwhelm the delicate flavor: Cherry wood, apple wood, pecan wood and maple wood.
We don’t recommend using hickory due to the intense flavor. But, if you’re into heavy smoke and like hickory, have at it!
There are a ton of different ways to customize Smoked Chicken Legs; here are a few of our favorites:
Spicy – Add cayenne pepper to the bbq rub or sauce.
Dry – Omit the bbq sauce. You’ll still get the bbq flavor from the rub.
Sweet – Add extra brown sugar to the bbq rub.
Less Sweet – Omit or reduce the brown sugar from the bbq rub.
- Don’t skimp on the olive oil. It’s what crisps up the skin when cooking.
- Place a small bowl of water in the smoker when cooking for long periods to help keep moisture in the meat.
- Make sure to spray the grill prior to heating to ensure the chicken doesn’t stick.
- As with all chicken recipes, do not leave out at room temperature for more than two hours. If you have leftover store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To re-heat leftovers, pre-heat the oven to 350°F and cook for 10-12 minutes, until heated throughout.
- Use leftover bones and/or meat and make Instant Pot Bone Broth.
How Much Chicken Per Person
On average, chicken legs yield about 1.5 oz of meat per leg so plan on serving two chicken legs per person if you’re having a nice selection of side dishes. If your side dishes are slim plan on serving three legs per person.
BBQ Chicken Side Dish Ideas
Here’s our favorite side dishes to serve with barbecue chicken.
Smoked Mac and Cheese
Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
Ensalada de Papa
Ensalada de Coditos
SMOKED CHICKEN LEGS
- 2-2.5 lb chicken legs
- 1 olive oil
- 2-3 tbsp bbq rub (store bought or homemade)
- 1 cup barbecue sauce (store bought or homemade)
OPTIONAL MOP SAUCE
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsp bbq rub (store bought or homemade)
- 2 tbsp barbecue sauce (store bought or homemade)
- Pre-heat the smoker to 275°F.
PREP THE CHICKEN
- Pat dry the chicken and evenly coat with olive oil, followed by the bbq rub.2-2.5 lb chicken legs1 olive oil2-3 tbsp bbq rub
OPTIONAL MOP SAUCE
- Add the ingredients to a small mixing bowl and mix to combine. Set aside.¼ cup apple cider vinegar¼ cup water2 tbsp bbq rub2 tbsp barbecue sauce
COOK THE CHICKEN
- Transfer the chicken legs to the grill and close the lid. At the 45 minute mark, brush the chicken with the mop sauce, flip and lightly brush the second side with the mop sauce. Close the lid. Repeat every 30 minutes.
- When the chicken legs reach around 150°F, brush both sides with bbq sauce and continue to cook until the thickest part of the chicken leg reaches 165°F.1 cup barbecue sauce
- Remove the chicken legs and let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.