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Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe

If you are looking for a tasty recipe that gives you the chance to let your smoker do the work, this smoked chicken thighs recipe is the answer.

smoked chicken thighs

I’m all about easy smoked recipes. The rub is easily made with ingredients right from your pantry and the entire recipe takes only a couple of hours. It tastes so good you can even serve it at the holidays or on special occasions year round.

I’ve used this recipe several times, mostly for family dinners. But, one time last year, we had some guests coming over and I found that the only thing I could throw in the smoker was some chicken thighs we got on special. Of course, I could have just grilled something, but I love to get the smoker going when we have guests coming. So, out came the family recipe for smoked chicken thighs.

It was a hit! Our guests raved about the flavor and begged for the recipe. When I told them how easy it was, they were floored. They loved the tasty thighs paired with coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread. But, these thighs are versatile enough to work with almost any side dish you have.

smoked chicken thighs recipe

What Makes a Good Chicken Thigh Recipe

Chicken thighs are naturally fattier and more flavorful than chicken breasts. When selecting a chicken thigh recipe, it’s important to keep this difference in mind. You want to bring the most flavor and juice to the table as possible.

When you buy thighs in the supermarket, you likely see them with skin still attached. That skin helps retain the moisture in the piece as it cooks and also imparts additional flavor. A thigh recipe should not require the removal of this skin during the cooking process. You can remove it after if you want to reduce the amount of calories you eat.

Thigh meat absorbs flavor quite well. The smoking process is perfect with chicken thighs because it absorbs the flavor of the smoke in a short amount of time. However, a rub, marinade, dredge, or braise will enhance the flavors, no matter how you decide to cook the meat.

A good chicken recipe will require that you check the meat for temperature. Chicken needs to be cooked to a minimum of 165F. But, you also don’t want to overcook it as will dry out even the fattier cut of the thigh.

Check the meat temperature often as you reach the recommended cooking time. You may find you need to pull the meat a few minutes early or let it stay in a bit longer to reach the 165F.

smoked chicken thighs brine

How To Make The Best Smoked Chicken Thighs

The first thing I do when smoking chicken thighs is to trim the extra fat. I’m not talking about stripping the entire skin but scrape the excess fat that usually hangs off the edge of the meat.

Once you’ve clean up the meat, it is time to work on the spice rub. There are a variety of rubs you can use for chicken. For this recipe, I used simple ingredients. Most the ingredients on the list you probably already have in your pantry.

No matter what type of rub you use, the secret is to coat your chicken well with the spice rub. Both sides of the meat and even under the skin.

You can also brine the chicken before smoking. I did not brine the chicken for this recipe but if you prefer to brine the meat, use a simple salt and water brine. Mix a cup of kosher salt with a gallon of water.


smoked chicken thighs brine
5 from 7 votes

Delicious Smoked Chicken Thighs

Try this simple chicken thigh recipe smoked for a few hours giving you that smokey, tender, and moist chicken.

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes


  • 8 pieces Chicken Thighs
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Light Brown Sugar


  1. Place all rub ingredients in a shallow bowl. 

  2. Mix rub ingredients together until thoroughly combined. Set aside. 

  3. Add hickory wood to the smoker. 

  4. Preheat the smoker to 250F.

  5. Use a basting brush to apply olive oil to both sides of the thigh pieces.

  6. Sprinkle a generous amount of the spice rub on each thigh piece. Press the rub into the chicken to ensure adherence.

  7. Place seasoned thighs into smoker.

  8. Smoke for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The chicken thighs need to reach an internal temperature of 165F. Use a meat thermometer to verify temperature before removing from smoker.

  9. Let the chicken thighs rest 20 minutes before serving.


How to get crispy skin on smoked chicken thighs?

You normally would need high heat to crisp the skin. So crank up the heat in the smoker or put in the oven at 400F.

What type of wood to use for smoking chicken?

Any kind of fruit tree like apple and cherry would go well for smoking chicken. You could also go for oak or maple. For this recipe, I used hickory.

Recipe Rating

emily johnson

Sunday 11th of August 2019

Turned out GREAT! We've had such a hard time with finding the right rub. All the bottled stuff is never quite right and we end up throwing them away after one use. This was a HIT! I will say, we halved the cayenne because we don't like too much heat. It was perfect for my husband and I but still a little hot for my picky kids. So maybe i'll use just 1/4 next time. Will definitely try on drum sticks too! *PRINTED* and put in FAVORITE section of my cook book! THANK YOU!!!!


Saturday 3rd of August 2019

I was a virgin to smoking until yesterday. I followed the recipe exactly. I’ve had a Weber Summit Gas grill for 5 years and was hesitant to smoke. When the recipe indicated 1 1/2 - 2 hours I decided to go for it. Plus I bought thighs on sale. I used pecan chips from Weber. Soaked chips for the suggested 30 minutes and put them in the smoker box and added chips when the smoke diminished. I used about 8 cups of chips.

After 1 1/2 hours of smoking the internal temp was about 135 degrees. That was fine because I wanted to finish them in the oven to crisp the skin and bring them to about 180 degrees. Put them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes which over cooked them by about 20 degrees. My bad.

Result: Delicious complexity of the rub and smoke combined. Next time i’ll Use 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne because I thought it slightly overwhelmed the flavor.

I can’t wait to try my next smoke recipe. Hopefully I won’t experience a sophomore slump. I’ll definitely pick a recipe from this site. Will write anther review with my results.

Ps - Thighs turned out looking exactly like the picture.

Lisa G

Sunday 14th of July 2019

I use this on drumsticks and my family will actually eat them! They are amazing and so easy to eat. Followed the rub exactly and they have always turned out delicious!! Good cold too!

Tom Mulhausen

Sunday 5th of May 2019

I like tour style simple yet delicious.