This is the BEST Smoked Chicken Thighs recipe. Chicken thighs are coated in olive oil, a flavorful BBQ rub (or Smoke Rub For Chicken) and barbecue sauce, then cooked smoked low and slow, to create perfectly juicy chicken, infused with light smoke.
Too cold to grill? Here’s a Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs recipe to make instead!
There are only a few ingredients required, to make smoked boneless chicken thighs.
- Chicken Thighs – we use boneless and skinless thighs, but bone-in and skin-on also works.
- Dry Rub – Use your favorite rub! See the list below for ideas.
- Olive Oil – You can also use your favorite cooking oil.
- BBQ Sauce – Use your favorite BBQ sauce or use ours.
Here are a few dry rub recipes and/or sauce combos to consider using, if you’re looking to mix it up.
- Montreal Steak Seasoning
- Chicken Taco Seasoning
- Jamaican Jerk Seasoning
- Creole Seasoning
- Honey Lemon Pepper Wings
- Prime Rib Rub
- Honey Sriracha Sauce
Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe
We’re always looking for easy smoker recipes and BBQ recipes and this smoked chicken thighs recipe fits the bill. Smoking chicken thighs requires only 4 ingredients and 45-75 minutes of cook time.
Looking for a brine for smoked chicken thighs? If you’re inclined to dry brine chicken, we recommend dry brining overnight. Just pat dry the thighs, coat in kosher salt, or the dry rub you’re using, and let sit in the refrigerator, uncovered, a minimum of 6 hours, up to 24 hours.
Check out the recipe card below for the “how to dry brine a chicken” instructions. To read up on the specifics of why this works, check out this informative article on the topic.
While 100% optional, we highly recommend using a quick and easy bbq mop sauce when making smoked chicken recipes. It only requires one extra ingredient (apple cider vinegar) and 2-minutes to mix up.
This mop sauce recipe infuses extra flavor and keeps the chicken extra juicy. Directions to use are in the recipe card below.
How To Make
Coat ’em up, cook ’em up, sauce ’em up and eat! That’s it in a nutshell.
Smoked chicken thighs can be made on any pellet (pellet grill chicken thighs), 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 Thighs) – Pre-heat your grill to 250°F. Follow the manufacture’s instructions to get an even smoke when making Traeger smoked chicken thighs.
- Gas Grill – depending on the brand, a good setting to test out is turning half the burners (on the same side of the grill) to medium-low while the other burners are off. You’ll create smoke by using a smoker box to add chips/chunks.
The goal is to keep the ambient temperature as close to 250°F as possible. If using a manual smoker aim to keep it between 225 – 250°F.
Remove the chicken from the grill when the smoked chicken thighs temp is 165°F.
How Long To Smoke Chicken Thighs
It takes between 45-75 minutes to smoke chicken legs to 165°F. The prep work takes under 10 minutes, so you’re looking at under 1.5 hours total from start to finish (including the 5 minute rest period).
Keep in mind, the total time to make smoked chicken thighs at 225°F will vary depending on the weight and shape of the thighs you’re cooking along with other factors, such as outdoor weather (how cold or windy is it?). As such, it’s difficult to calculate an exact cook time.
- Energy Source – 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.
Barbecue Chicken Thighs Variations
There are a ton of different ways to customize Smoked Chicken Thighs; 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.
Recipe For Smoked Chicken Thighs Tips
- 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 5-7 minutes, until heated throughout.
How Many Thighs Per Person
On average, skinless and boneless chicken thighs yield about 3 oz of meat so plan on serving two thighs per person for healthy eaters, or one thigh per person for light eaters (or if you’re having a nice selection of side dishes).
Side Dish Ideas
Here are our favorite side dishes to serve with smoked boneless skinless chicken thighs.
OPTIONAL DRY BRINE
- kosher salt or BBQ rub (*Note 1)
SMOKED CHICKEN THIGHS
OPTIONAL STEP: DRY BRINE
- Up to 24 hours before smoking: Pat dry the chicken with paper towels and generously coat with kosher salt or the BBQ dry rub. Transfer the uncovered chicken to the refrigerator and let dry brine for 6-24 hours.kosher salt or BBQ rub
PREP THE CHICKEN
- Pat dry the chicken and evenly coat with olive oil, followed by the bbq rub.2-2.5 lb chicken thighs1 tbsp olive oil2-3 tbsp bbq rub
OPTIONAL STEP: 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
- Pre-heat the smoker to 250°F. If using a manual smoker, aim to keep the ambient temperature between 225°F - 250°F.
- Transfer the chicken thighs to the grill and close the lid. At the 30 minute mark, brush the chicken with the mop sauce, flip and lightly brush the second side with the mop sauce. Close the lid.
- When the chicken thighs reach around 150°F, brush both sides with bbq sauce and continue to cook until the thickest part of the chicken thigh reaches 165°F.1 cup barbecue sauce
- Remove the chicken and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.