Smoked chicken thighs are one of my favorite things to make on the smoker. It's easy to make a large batch and then individually package them for meals during the week, or to use at another time. If you're looking for a great pellet smoker recipe using chicken, keep reading.
Why I Love This Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe
Chicken thighs are very affordable, the local supermarket almost always has them in stock, they're usually sold in a pack of 10-12, and I've paid as little as $5 for a whole pack!
Along with affordability and shorter time on the smoker, they have a high-fat content, which makes them very forgiving. All of that fat protects the chicken thigh meat while it cooks by slowly basting the thigh while it melts away. What remains at the end of the cook is incredibly juicy chicken that will please your taste buds with every bite.
Smoked Chicken Thigh Brine
Before we smoke the thighs, we need to brine them. This is a simple process that adds some awesome flavor and moisture to the chicken thighs before they take on heat.
In a stockpot over medium high heat combine the following ingredients:
- 12 ounce can of beer
- 6 cups of water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
Stir the brine solution until it just starts to boil and then remove from the heat and let cool to room temp. Once the brine solution is down to room temperature pour it into a brine bucket, and then add the poultry.
Place the brine bucket in your fridge overnight, or at least 6 hours.
How to Smoke Chicken Thighs on a Traeger
When you're ready to smoke pull the chicken out of the brine solution, pat it dry, and arrange the thighs on a grilling rack. Once all of the chicken thighs have been pat dry, coat them with bbq rub.
Smoked Chicken Thighs - How to Get Rub Under The Skin
To get the rub underneath the skin of the chicken thighs just snip one edge of the skin, peel it back and apply the rub, and then pull the skin back over.
After the thighs are prepped, it's time for the smoker. I start mine at 180 degrees Fahrenheit and leave them in the smoker for one hour. After an hour, turn the heat up to 350 and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour. The thighs are done when the internal temp of the thickest part of each thigh is at 165 degrees.
How Do I Know When the Chicken Thighs are Done?
There is really only one way to know when your meat has cooked to the proper temperature., and that's by using a quality meat thermometer.
I was put off by the price of the Thermapen when I first was looking at instant-read thermometers, but after reading countless reviews about how great the thermometer is, I finally made the plunge. I'M GLAD I DID!
Smoked Chicken Thighs - To Sauce or Not to Sauce
During the last 20 minutes of the cook, you could brush each thigh with your favorite BBQ sauce, but it's not necessary. There is plenty of flavor in the meat from the brine you used. If it’s for a family dinner and presentation isn’t crucial, I’d skip the barbecue sauce. When you’re trying to impress some friends with how amazing your barbecue looks before they taste it, add the sauce!
Chicken Thighs - An Easy Entree When You’re in a Time Crunch
The next time you are looking for a simple, delicious, and inexpensive recipe, consider making this recipe. I’ve seen packs of thighs at the store with 10-14 thighs, and I always cook the whole pack. That way I have enough for lunch during the week too!
What’s your favorite way to prepare these? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Simple Brined and Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Food Safe Container for Brining
- 12 ounces can of beer
- 6 cups water
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp Nick's Poultry Rub link in notes
- Combine brine ingredients in a stock pot over medium high heat. Stir until brine just starts to boil and then remove from heat.
- Once brine has cooled add chicken thighs and brine to a brine bucket.
- After at least 12 hours in the brine, pull the chicken thighs out of the brine solution, pat them dry, and place them on a grilling rack.
- Once all the chicken thighs are dried, generously sprinkle the rub on all sides of each thigh
- Get your smoker up to 180 degrees and place your chicken thighs inside.
- After an hour at 180 degrees, turn the heat up to 350 and cook for an additional 45 minutes to an hour. During the last 20 minutes of the cook, brush each thigh with your favorite BBQ sauce.
- The thighs are done when the internal temp of the thickest part of each thigh is at 165 degrees.
My son said these thighs were the best he's had. They were moist, tender and delicious! Added some garlic and onion powders to the brine. Removed the skin before putting on my homemade rub, then put the skin back on and secured with a toothpick and some more rub. Will use a higher temp at the end to better crisp the skin, or do a better job of drying the skin after brining. 1/3 Kinder's Cali Gold sauce, 1/3 Kinder's Roasted Garlic sauce, and 1/3 no sauce. Used Camp Chef Hickory Charwood pellets. Awesome!