Get this easy recipe for crispy, smoked thighs cooked to perfection on any charcoal, gas, or pellet grill.
Chicken thighs are a great staple for a weeknight meal or meal prep and can truly be everyone’s favorite BBQ if you do it right. Whether you charcoal or pellet grill chicken thighs or slowly smoke with wood chips on your gas grill, you can get the crispiest lip smacking chicken in just a few hours!
Smoking the thighs adds an incredible amount of flavor and allows you to jazz up recipes like this Southwest Fiesta Salad, this grilled chicken fajita bowl, or even seasoned well for this grilled curry chicken salad recipe too.
Get all the tips, tricks, and techniques for throwing down the best chicken thighs by reading through the post below. Ready to get smoking? Jump to the recipe below and dive in!
- Foil Pan
- Wire Rack
- Baking Sheet
- Meat Thermometer
Here are some commonly asked questions I get when it comes to cooking chicken on the grill or smoker. Let me walk you through some helpful background knowledge so you can have a seamless cook!
What temperature should I cook chicken thighs at on the grill?
I often smoke chicken recipes (especially darker meat) at a slightly higher temperature compared to other classic low and slow BBQ recipes in order to achieve a really crispy skin. I smoked the bone in thighs at 350 F. This works best for rendering the fat while getting that fried chicken like skin at the end of the cook.
How long do bone in chicken thighs take to smoke?
There are a few factors that play into how long chicken thighs will take to smoke on the grill. Some variables include how cold the chicken is before going on the smoker and how thick the thighs are. Boneless chicken always cooks faster as well.
These chicken thighs reached 165 degrees internally after about an hour and half on my Yoder 640s. Always use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh to know when they are truly cooked. Most thighs will be done in under two hours.
Can I make boneless skinless smoked chicken thighs instead?
Yes, you can. Note that they will need less cooking time because there is no skin or bone. Chicken thighs are a darker meat so they tend to dry out less than boneless chicken breast for example. Check out my guide for 7 tips for grilling chicken if you need additional tips!
Tips for getting crispy chicken skin on a smoker:
Having crispy skin on chicken is a must! Here are some of my favorite tips I use to get the best crunch every time I BBQ.
- Remove the chicken from the packaging and always pat dry with paper towels
- Let it air dry, uncovered in the fridge overnight
- Use baking powder or cornstarch a few hours prior to smoking for crispier skin (works with smoked chicken breast, grilled wings, or even a whole grilled spatchcock chicken too for example)
- Cook at a higher temperature to render the skins fat and help it get crispier
Smoked Chicken Preparation and Cooking Steps:
- Preheat your grill for indirect heat at 350 F.
- Pat your chicken dry ahead of time and either air dry it in the fridge or toss in a few tablespoons of baking powder/ cornstarch to remove excess moisture.
- Apply a little olive oil if desired and sprinkle on your favorite spice rub. I like this (sugar free) all purpose BBQ dry rub or a simple Italian blend.
- To reduce the mess in your grill, I recommend using a foil pan with a cooling rack over the top. Place the chicken thighs, skin side up over the rack. This collects the chicken fat and juices while still allowing the hot air and smoke to circulate throughout the chicken.
- Smoke for about 1.5-2 hours as needed. Internal temperature should be 165 F.
- Remove from the grill and rest for 15 minutes to redistribute the chicken juices. Serve with this smoked cauliflower mac and cheese, some grilled brussels sprouts, and my favorite garlic basil aioli dipping sauce.
Serving and storage tips:
- Serve dry for the crispiest skin, but feel free to add your favorite BBQ sauce before eating if desired.
- Want to use this for meal prep? Pre-shred the chicken as desired and set it aside in a container in the fridge to be used in salads, casseroles, or add to soups or stews. The smoked chicken goes so well in my low carb chicken chili recipe!
- If you leave them whole after storing and have leftovers, peel the skin off and pull the meat away from the bones. Use the bones for stock if desired and the leftover chicken as desired.
- Leftover smoked chicken thighs are good for up to 7 days.
Smoked Chicken Thighs
- 6 Chicken Thighs bone in with skin
- Spice Rub your choice
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Optional: 2 tbsp. of Cornstarch or Baking Powder
- Prep Ahead: If you’re looking to get the crispiest skin you can either pat the chicken dry with paper towel and leave it on a plate or baking sheet uncovered in your fridge overnight to dry out or a few hours before smoking, toss the chicken thighs in 2 tbsp. of cornstarch or baking powder to reduce the moisture.
- Next, preheat your grill to 350 F. for indirect heat.
- Remove the chicken thighs from the fridge and toss in the olive oil and the spice rub you prefer to use.
- Place the chicken thighs over a cooling rack that is sitting on top of a foil pan. This catches all the fat and juices and prevents it from going into your grill. You can also just place the chicken on indirect heat on your grill grates as well if you prefer.
- Cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Check the thickest part of the chicken with a meat thermometer. It should reach 165 F. Cook longer if needed.
- Remove them from the grill and rest 10-15 minutes as needed. Serve with your favorite sides, veggies, or use the chicken for meal prep!