Perfect for new grillers and seasoned backyard pitmasters, this recipe showcases deep, smoky flavors and the succulent texture of smoked chicken thighs. With the right blend of spices and a slow smoke on a pellet grill, you’ll create delicious flavors, perfect for a weeknight dinner or a summer gathering.

For this recipe, I used my Traeger Ironwood 885. It offers great versatility to quickly come up to temperature and also offers some quick clean-up when I am done with this messy recipe. I simply scrape off those grill grates, change out the foil, and I am back to smoking in no time. 

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Why should you try this recipe

  • Chicken Thighs pack the flavor: Smoked chicken thighs offer a depth of flavor that outdoes chicken breasts. The higher fat content plays an important role in absorbing and retaining rich, smoky flavors, resulting in tender, juicy, and flavorful meat.
  • Less chance of drying out: Similar to the flavor, chicken thighs have a higher fat content and connective tissues than chicken breasts. Thus, they are more forgiving and result in moist and tender meat. This makes them an excellent choice for throwing on the smoker, as they can take on longer cooking times without drying out.
  • Great shredded as leftovers: Shredding leftover chicken thighs adds a smoky depth to salads, sandwiches, tacos, and more. They can be reheated without losing flavor, making them convenient for weekly meal prep and quick meals.

Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • 1 package of bone in, skin on chicken thighs:  Chicken thighs are the upper leg portion of the chicken.  For this recipe I am using the bone in, skin on version to maximize flavor and forgiveness during the cooking time.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil:  Using olive oil as a binder on the skin helps the rub adhere during the smoking process but also helps the skin crisp up a little bit.
  • 3 tbsp Smoked Q Rock’s Hey Boo! Honey Spice Blend:  This honey forward seasoning is perfect for chicken.  It offers the sweetness from the honey, but brings in color from the paprika and some pepper spice from the cracked black pepper. 

 Glaze

  • 1 Cup Smoked Q Rock’s Bourbon BBQ Sauce:  Staying with the sweet theme, this bourbon infused sauce comes with a tangy and smoky finish, just without the spiciness. 
  • 1/8 cup honey: Incorporating honey into the BBQ sauce thins it while also making it a little sticky and tacky, creating more of a glaze option to finish the cooking process.

Instructions for making Smoked Chicken Thighs

1. Preheat:  I set my Traeger Ironwood 885 to 350°F and allowed it to come up to temp for about 15 minutes.

2. Prepare the Chicken:  First I trim up any loose skin, but leave most of it on.  Next, I pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.  Then I lightly coated the chicken thighs with olive oil as a binder to help the dry rub stick after “rolling and folding” the skin, bones and loose meat under.

3. Season: Next I applied a heavy coat of Smoke Q Rock’s Hey Boo! Honey Seasoning to both sides, starting with the bottom side first.

4. Place on the Traeger:  With the smoker to temp, I placed the chicken thighs skin side up on the Ironwood, ensuring they were spaced evenly for proper airflow and smoke distribution.

5. Allow to grill up:  I ran these chicken thighs at 350°F for about 35 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 165°F on my Meater+ thermometer

6. Prepare the Glaze:  While the chicken thighs are still on the grill, I created a quick glaze with my Smoked Q Rock’s Bourbon BBQ Sauce and honey in a grill safe vessel before placing on the smoker to allow it to warm up before using it.

7. Apply the Glaze:  When the chicken thighs reach about 165°F, I pour the glaze over them, before continuing to grill for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175°F and the glaze is slightly caramelized.

8. Rest and serve:  Once they’ve hit the desired temp, I remove the chicken thighs from the smoker and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring tender and juicy meat.  And with that, I’m ready to serve these delicious smoked chicken thighs hot with one of my favorite sides.

Variations and Substitutions:

Alternate Rubs: When it comes to chicken, seasoning can go really two primary routes, sweet or savory.  In this recipe I am going the sweet route, but if you’d like to run a savory option look to more traditional “BBQ” rubs like Killer Hogs the BBQ Rub, Meat Church the Gospel, or Heath Riles Competition Rub.  But in a pinch, go to the pantry and just make your own:

  • 8 parts brown sugar
  • 8 part paprika
  • 1 part garlic
  • 1 part salt
  • 1 part black pepper
  • 1 part chili powder

Tips and tricks for making these Smoked Chicken Thighs

Higher temps: Cooking chicken at 350ºF or above is what it takes to get a crispy skin. This higher temperature renders the fat in the skin, allowing it to become beautifully crispy but without these higher cooking temperatures, the skin comes out with a rubberier texture.

Bone in or Bone Out: While this recipe focuses on using a bone in version of chicken thighs, there are options for a skinless boneless chicken thigh.  This is a great option to pack a flavor punch, while speeding up the overall cooking time.  If you want to go to this option, skip the olive oil binder and plan to shorten the cooking time. 

Skin side up: This one seems obvious, but just in case.  Make sure you are cooking these smoked chicken thighs skin side up.  This will allow for maximum skin crispness.  When using a pellet grill there is no need to flip these over during the cook. 

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Smoked Chicken Thighs

Servings: 8 people
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Glaze: 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Smoked Chicken Thighs Finished
This recipe is great for beginners and experienced pitmasters. It creates rich, smoky flavors and succulent smoked chicken thighs. With the right spices and a slow smoke on a pellet grill, you can create delicious flavors perfect for any occasion.

Equipment

  • 1 Traeger Ironwood 885
  • 1 Small mixing bowl
  • 1 Basting Brush

Ingredients 

Glaze

Instructions 

  • I set my Traeger Ironwood 885 to 350°F and allowed it to come up to temp for about 15 minutes.
  • First I trim up any loose skin, but leave most of it on.  Next, I pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.  Then I lightly coated the chicken thighs with olive oil as a binder to help the dry rub stick after “rolling and folding” the skin, bones and loose meat under.
  • Next I applied a heavy coat of Smoke Q Rock’s Hey Boo! Honey Seasoning to both sides, starting with the bottom side first.
  • With the smoker to temp, I placed the chicken thighs skin side up on the Ironwood, ensuring they were spaced evenly for proper airflow and smoke distribution.
  • I ran these chicken thighs at 350°F for about 35 to 45 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 165°F on my Meater+ thermometer.
  • While the chicken thighs are still on the grill, I created a quick glaze with my Smoked Q Rock’s Bourbon BBQ Sauce and honey in a grill safe vessel before placing on the smoker to allow it to warm up before using it.
  • When the chicken thighs reach about 165°F, I pour the glaze over them, before continuing to grill for an additional 10-15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 175°F and the glaze is slightly caramelized.
  • Once they’ve hit the desired temp, I remove the chicken thighs from the smoker and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring tender and juicy meat.  And with that, I’m ready to serve these delicious smoked chicken thighs hot with one of my favorite sides.

Nutrition

Calories: 49kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 0.2gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 1mgPotassium: 5mgFiber: 0.01gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 0.03mgCalcium: 0.4mgIron: 0.05mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
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