Best Smoked Chicken Thighs

Written by Mike Futia | Updated October 18, 2023

Smoked chicken thighs are one of my absolute favorite smoking recipes to make on the Traeger! 

They're super-easy, relatively quick, and oh-so-delicious and tender.

smoked chicken thighs

How To Make Smoked Chicken Thighs

This recipe couldn't be any easier.

We're making a quick marinade for the chicken thighs, seasoning them with our homemade chicken rub, then tossing them on the Traeger for about two hours, until they hit an internal temperature of 160.

(If you prefer a chicken thigh recipe that's much quicker, check out our grilled chicken thighs).

Then we're blasting them with our sear gun to get a nice charred skin! 

smoked chicken thighs

You can optionally baste them with our homemade BBQ sauce to make delicious smoked BBQ chicken thighs, which is what we did here, or soak them in our delicious Alabama white sauce.

raw chicken thighs

The Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs. With the bone, and the skin on. We got the Bell & Evans brand for $3.99 per pound. 
  • Olive oil. Part one of our marinade.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Part two of our marinade, for a little fruity acidity. 
  • Dry rub. We used our signature smoked chicken rub for this cook, but you can use whatever you like.
  • BBQ sauce (optional). If you want to make these thighs BBQ-style, then use your favorite BBQ sauce. We used our delicious homemade rib sauce for these.

The Directions

smoked chicken thighs marinade

1. In a resealable plastic bag, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and chicken thighs, and coat the chicken. Allow to marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.

traeger 250 F

2. Meanwhile, preheat your smoker to 250 F. Use your favorite flavored pellets. For this cook, we used cherry.

chicken thighs rub

3. Season the chicken thighs. Take your dry rub, and apply liberally to both sides of the thighs. Allow the rub to adhere on your counter for 10 minutes.

chicken thighs on traeger

4. Smoke the chicken thighs. Add your thighs to your smoker, skin side up, and smoke until it hits an internal temperature of 160 F, about two hours.

smoked chicken thighs

5. (Optional) With a basting brush, apply your BBQ sauce liberally to the thighs while still on the smoker. Allow them to cook for 10-15 minutes.

sear gun

6. Crisp up the skin. Use a sear gun (or, optionally, fire up a ripping-hot grill with GrillGrates) to torch the thigh skins, until nice and crispy.

smoked chicken thighs

7. Allow the thighs to cool for a minute, then serve and enjoy!

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Place the chicken thighs in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag, and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days. 
  • To Freeze. We don't recommend freezing these thighs, as they don't taste nearly as good when thawed out and reheated.
  • To Reheat. To reheat the refrigerated thighs, toss them in a 350F oven for 15-20 minutes, or until heated throughout. You could also serve them cold and use them as a substitute for our smoked chicken salad recipe.

What To Serve With Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • Coleslaw. A classic side dish that complements the smoky flavor of the thighs with its tangy, crunchy texture.
  • Smoked baked beans. A flavorful side dish that adds a hearty and savory element to the meal.
  • Smoked mac and cheese. A classic comfort food that pairs nicely with the smoky of the thighs.

Recommended Tools

  • Traeger Grill. I love my Traeger 780 for all things smoking, but you can use the smoker of choice.
  • Meat Thermometer. I use this MEATER to keep an eye on the internal temp during the cook, and then just to be sure, I also check it with this Thermapen One at the end of the cook.
  • Pellets. I've really been digging the pellets from BBQ'ers Delight.
  • Sear Gun. I use the SearPro to get a good crisp and sear on all my smoked chickens and steaks. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Does It Take To Smoke Chicken Thighs?

Smoked chicken thighs take about two hours to cook when smoked at 250 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Should You Flip Chicken Thighs While Smoking?

You don't need to flip the chicken thighs when smoking them.

What Kind Of Chicken Thighs Is Best For A Smoked Recipe?

Be sure to buy your thighs with the bones still in tact, and the skin still on the meat. The skin helps retain moisture when cooking, and adds additional flavor.

What Temperature Should Chicken Thighs Be Cooked To?

Be sure to cook your smoked chicken thighs to 160 degrees internal. Use a good meat thermometer to monitor the temperature during your cook.

How Do You Get Crispy Skin On Smoked Chicken Thighs?

To get a crispy skin on your smoked chicken thighs, you can either use a sear gun, or place them on the grill on high heat for a few minutes per side.

smoked chicken thighs

The Best Smoked Chicken Thighs (On The Traeger)

Savor juicy, smoked chicken thighs with crispy skin with this east recipe. Enjoy perfectly smoked, glazed thighs in just two hours.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 2 people
Calories 1407 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp cup BBQ sauce optional
  • 2 tbsp stick BBQ rub

Instructions
 

  • In a resealable plastic bag, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and chicken thighs, and coat the chicken. Allow to marinade in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, preheat your smoker to 250 F. Use your favorite flavored pellets. For this cook, we used cherry.
  • Season the chicken thighs. Take your dry rub, and apply liberally to both sides of the thighs. Allow the rub to adhere on your counter for 10 minutes.
  • Smoke the chicken thighs. Add your thighs to your smoker, skin side up, and smoke until it hits an internal temperature of 160 F, about two hours.
  • (Optional) With a basting brush, apply your BBQ sauce liberally to the thighs while still on the smoker. Allow them to cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Crisp up the skin. Use a sear gun (or, optionally, fire up a ripping-hot grill) to torch the thigh skins, until nice and crispy.
  • Allow the thighs to cool for a minute, then serve and enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 1407kcalCarbohydrates: 178gProtein: 40gFat: 54gSaturated Fat: 12gPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gMonounsaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 221mgSodium: 4605mgPotassium: 1633mgFiber: 4gSugar: 143gVitamin A: 1137IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 177mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


LEARN MORE ABOUT MIKE


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