Easy smoked chicken thighs seasoned with the best sweet and savory brown sugar dry rub and smoked until juicy, tender perfection. Finish with a reverse sear for that crispy, charred skin we all love. This is a go-to recipe you'll be coming back to again and again.
I love smoking chicken thighs because the meat stays so juicy and tender, and because nobody likes soft and chewy skin, I always finish my smoked chicken thighs off with a reverse sear over direct heat to crisp up and char the skin.
Aside from the delicious smokey flavor, these chicken thighs are covered in sweet and savory dry rub that is made with simple pantry spices that add so much. Don't forget to get the dry rub under the skin to get that good flavor directly on the meat!
Now let's get smoking!
How to make the best smoked chicken thighs.
Start by trimming off any access skin and fat from the chicken thighs. Keep the layer of skin that covers the top of the chicken thigh to lock in the juices, but trim off and discard any skin or fat that wraps around the underside of the chicken thighs.
Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel - this will help to crisp up the outside of the chicken thighs.
Generously rub all sides of the chicken thighs with dry rub, including on top of the skin, under the skin, and on the underside of the chicken. Let the chicken rest while you prepare the smoker.
Place the chicken skin side up on the smoker over indirect heat. Smoke the chicken at 225 degrees F. for about 1 ½ -2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. If desired, brush the chicken with a mop mixture of apple cider vinegar, apple cider and dry rub to help tenderize the chicken and keep it moist.
To crisp the skin and finish cooking, crank the heat up to 450 degrees F to reverse sear the chicken. Flip the chicken over so the skin side is down and finish cooking over direct heat until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature reaches 170-175 degrees F.
Let the chicken thighs rest for 10 minutes so the juices can redistribute, then enjoy!
Smoked chicken dry rub.
This dry rub is sweet, smokey and salty - perfect for smoked chicken! Make sure you generously coat all sides of the chicken in the dry rub, including under the skin!
- Brown sugar.
- Smoked paprika. Regular paprika will work too.
- Garlic powder.
- Onion powder.
- Chili powder.
Should I remove skin from chicken thighs before smoking?
I recommend leaving the skin on to seal in the juices.
In the recipe, I provide instructions on how to crisp the skin by reverse searing the chicken thighs.
If you do choose to remove the skin, you can still follow the same recipe instructions, but you can skip the reverse searing, unless you want a nice char on the chicken.
How do I get crispy chicken skin when smoking?
To get crispy skin on smoked chicken thighs, I recommend reverse searing over direct heat.
Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees F, turn the smoker up to 450 degrees F. Making sure the chicken is skin side down, sear the chicken thighs over direct heat until the skin is crispy and the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 170-175 degrees F.
Do I need to flip chicken thighs when smoking?
I like to start smoking the chicken with the skin side up, then flip the chicken thighs over and reverse sear when they are just about done smoking. This makes the skin crispy and slightly charred.
How do you keep chicken moist when smoking?
Because of the low and slow smoking process, the chicken will remain moist as long as you do NOT overcook it. Dry chicken is the result of overcooking.
To ensure you don't dry out the chicken by over cooking it, always use an instant read meat thermometer. This will also ensure that you don't undercook the chicken, which can make you sick. This is a great bluetooth instant read meat thermometer so you can see the internal temperature of the chicken through an app on your phone!
How long to smoke chicken thighs at 225 degrees.
Smoking chicken thighs at 225 degrees F. will take about 1 ½ - 2 hours.
I like to start by smoking the chicken low and slow until they are 10-15 degrees away from being fully cooked, then I crank up the heat to crisp the skin.
What temperature are smoked chicken thighs done?
Chicken is fully cooked at 165 degrees F., which is the internal temperature you want to reach when smoking chicken thighs.
When grilling or smoking chicken, it is very important that use to a meat thermometer. This way you won't undercook the chicken, which can make you sick, and you won't overcook the chicken, drying it out.
Some smokers come with a meat thermometer probe, but it yours doesn't, no big deal! Here is a great bluetooth instant read meat thermometer, so you can check the internal temperature through an app on your phone! The price is great, as well.
What type of wood should I use?
When smoking chicken, you want to choose a wood that will add great flavor without overpowering the flavor of the chicken.
Wood from fruit trees is always a good choice. The sweetness adds delicious sweet and smokey flavor to the chicken. Here are the best wood options for smoking chicken:
While all of these are great, I really enjoy smoking chicken with applewood.
The smoker I use.
I have a Pit Boss Sportsman Pellet Grill.
I love this grill because of it's ease of use. You can easily adjust the temperature and open or close the flame broiler for direct or indirect heat. This grill also comes with an instant read meat thermometer probe.
But, you can most certainly use any type of smoker for this recipe!
What to serve with smoked chicken thighs.
If you make this recipe, I would love to hear from you! Please rate the recipe below using the stars or leave a comment. If you’re on Instagram, share a picture of the food you created and tag me at Modern Farmhouse Eats! I love seeing all the pictures! 😊
Smoked Chicken Thighs
- 3 pounds chicken thighs, skin on and bone in (6-8 thighs)
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika (or regular paprika)
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- ½ tablespoon cumin
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon pepper
- ½ apple cider vinegar
- ¼ apple cider/juice (or water)
- 1 tablespoon dry rub
- Dry rub: Mix together the dry rub ingredients and set aside. If using, reserve 1 tablespoon for the mop.
- Trim off any access skin and fat from the chicken thighs: Keep the layer of skin that covers the top of the chicken thigh to lock in the juices, but trim off and discard any skin or fat that wraps around the underside of the chicken thigh.
- Cover chicken with dry rub: Generously rub all sides of the chicken thighs with dry rub, including on top of the skin, under the skin, and on the underside of the chicken.
- Preheat the smoker: Let the chicken rest while you preheat the smoker to 225-250 degrees F.
- Smoke the chicken: Place the chicken on the smoker with the skin side up. Smoke the chicken for about 1 ½ - 2 hours, brushing the chicken with the mop after 45 minutes. Continue to mop the chicken every 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches about 165 degrees.
- Reverse sear: If desired, turn the smoker up to medium-high heat, about 450 degrees, and cook the chicken thighs skin side down over direct heat until nicely charred. Don't cook the chicken past an internal temperature of 170-175 degrees.
- Rest: Remove the chicken from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.