Close up view of smoked chicken thighs in a cast iron pan.

Discover the rich, smoky flavor of these tender smoked chicken thighs – perfect for a weekend BBQ or a cozy dinner with loved ones.

Transform your culinary experience with these succulent smoked chicken thighs, a delectable dish inspired by the rich traditions of Southern American barbecue. This recipe offers a nod to the flavors and techniques of regions such as Texas, Kansas City, and the Carolinas, where smoking meats imparts a depth of flavor and tenderness. Ideal for a weekend BBQ, family gathering, or a romantic dinner, these tender chicken thighs, infused with a unique blend of herbs and spices, are perfect for both novice and experienced cooks alike.

Smoke on the Menu: A Guide to Smokers and Their Effect on Meat

A smoker is a specialized cooking appliance designed to cook meats at low temperatures for extended periods while infusing them with rich, smoky flavors. The slow-cooking process breaks down the connective tissues in the meat, resulting in exceptional tenderness.

There are several types of smokers available, and each type offers unique advantages and imparts distinct flavors to the meat:

  • Charcoal
  • Electric
  • Gas
  • Pellet
  • Wood-fired

Charcoal and wood-fired smokers are favored by traditionalists for their authentic smoky taste.
Electric and gas smokers offer greater convenience and temperature control.
Pellet smokers combine the benefits of both, using wood pellets to generate smoke and an electric heating element for precise temperature management.

No matter which type of smoker you choose, the key to success is maintaining a consistent temperature and selecting the right type of wood or fuel to complement your chosen cut of meat.

Chicken Options

This recipe is versatile and can accommodate various cuts of chicken to suit your preferences. While the recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, you may choose to use skinless thighs or even boneless cuts; however, keep in mind that the skin helps retain moisture and crispiness when smoked, and bone-in cuts generally offer more flavor and tenderness. If you prefer other cuts of chicken, such as legs or wings, feel free to substitute them, but be aware that cooking times may vary. When using different cuts, always monitor the internal temperature and aim for 165°F to ensure safe and even cooking. Regardless of the cut or style you choose, the enticing blend of herbs and spices in this recipe will elevate the flavors and make your smoked chicken dish truly memorable.

Substitutions & Serving Suggestions

To save time, you can substitute the seasonings and use a pre-made blend. This chicken rub from Hey Grill, Hey is our favorite!

  • Serve the smoked chicken thighs with your favorite barbecue sauce, a tangy coleslaw, or a fresh garden salad.
  • Pair with classic southern sides such as cornbread, macaroni and cheese, or baked beans for a complete meal.

*For a spicier dish, substitute smoked paprika or add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the seasoning mix.

Tips for Success

  • Make sure your smoker maintains a consistent temperature to ensure even cooking.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness, aiming for an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Experiment with different types of wood chips in your smoker to find your preferred flavor profile.
  • Don’t forget to crisp the chicken. It adds SO much flavor!
Overhead view of smoked chicken thighs in a cast iron pan.

Storage & Reheating Instructions

Store any leftover smoked chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, place the chicken thighs in a preheated 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes, or until warmed through and crispy.

If you like this recipe, you may be interested in these other delicious smoking and grilling recipes:

For those seeking expert guidance and mouthwatering inspiration in the world of grilling and smoking, look no further than Hey Grill Hey. Founded by Susie Bulloch, a dear friend, passionate food blogger, and barbecue enthusiast, Hey Grill Hey offers an extensive collection of recipes, techniques, sauces and seasonings, and tips for mastering the art of smoking and grilling. Susie’s dedication to her craft and her easy-to-follow instructions make her an invaluable resource for both beginners and seasoned pitmasters alike.