There is nothing better than smoked chicken thighs when they are delicious and tender. They’re the perfect dinner party food, weeknight meal, or meal prep protein. Learn how to cook them perfectly on the pellet smoker every single time right in your own backyard.
This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you decide to purchase through my link, I may earn a very small commission at no additional cost to you.
Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs
Smoked chicken thighs are one of my favorite things to make on my electric smoker.
Chicken thighs in general are so juicy and tender, but when cooked on the smoker? They are next-level delicious.
When smoked, chicken thighs get an infusion of so much extra flavor from not only their spice rub but the smoky wood pellets or wood chips they’re cooked with.
These smoked boneless skinless chicken thighs are incredible. If you have a smoker, you need to add them to your dinner rotation immediately.
Whether you have a Traeger pellet grill, Pit Boss smoker, or any other electric pellet smoker, you can make this delicious chicken. I also recommend trying Pit Boss Ribs because the flavor combination is delicious. Having a combination of chicken and ribs to enjoy is going to be a hit with everyone. You won’t be sad if there are leftovers either.
Why I love pellet grill chicken thighs
- Smoked boneless chicken thighs are so flavorful, and don’t dry out in the smoker. They stay moist and juicy.
- They are ready in the same amount of time that it takes to bake or grill chicken thighs.
- This recipe doesn’t require flipping. Just put them in the smoker and forget about them til your timer goes off!
- If you are new to your smoker, this is a great recipe for beginners. It’s a very simple recipe.
Ingredients for the best smoked chicken thighs
For this recipe, you only need a few ingredients. If you want to make your own rub, you’ll need to raid your spice cabinet — see the next section for more about making a homemade rub for smoked chicken thighs.
- chicken thighs – You want to get boneless, skinless thighs. Make sure to trim them well so there is not too much extra fat.
- avocado oil – Use any neutral-tasting oil like olive oil or canola oil instead if needed.
- chicken rub – You can use your favorite store-bought rub or make a triple batch of my homemade rub (below) and keep it on hand every time you make this smoked chicken.
One note about chicken thighs: You can use bone-in, but it will increase the cooking time. I recommend removing the skin. If you want to make chicken breasts, check out this recipe for smoked chicken breasts.
Rub for smoked chicken thighs
Below are the simple ingredients you need to make my favorite smoked chicken rub for pellet-smoked chicken thighs.
(See the full, printable recipe card at the end of this post.)
- brown sugar
- smoked paprika
- salt – Coarse sea salt or kosher salt are my favorites for cooking.
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- ground mustard – See more about this ingredient below
- ground black pepper – Pepper from a pepper grinder is my favorite!
Also known as dry mustard or mustard powder, ground mustard might not be on your spice rack. You can order it online or buy it at the grocery store.
Ground mustard is made from ground mustard seed, which is the same as what’s used to make the mustard you know and love for hot dogs and hamburgers. You can even use it to make homemade mustard.
How to Make Smoked Chicken Thighs
Making smoked chicken thighs is super easy to do! You aren’t going to believe how simple it is to make something this delicious.
First thing, go ahead and preheat the smoker to 270ºF. While it’s preheating, you can mix up your rub.
To make the rub, mix together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and ground black pepper.
Then prep your chicken thighs. Trim off any excess fat or tendons with kitchen shears.
Next, we’ll prepare the chicken. Coat both sides of the chicken thighs with avocado oil, ensuring each one is completely coated. This is going to act as a binder for the rub.
Sprinkle the rub all over both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in so that the entire chicken thigh’s surface is coated in the rub mix. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty!
Cover and let the chicken sit in the refrigerator until the smoker has finished preheating. This helps some of the rub’s flavors soak into the chicken.
Once your smoker is ready to go, place the chicken directly on the grill grate of the smoker and close the lid. Then set a timer for 25-35 minutes.
The chicken thighs will be ready when the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
With tongs, remove the chicken thighs from the smoker and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.
See below for some ways you can serve this flavorful smoked chicken recipe!
How to tell when chicken thighs are done
Chicken thighs are done when they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
To check the internal temperature of the chicken thighs, you need an instant read meat thermometer.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, pull the biggest piece of chicken off the smoker. Slice it about halfway so you can see the color of the interior. If it is still very pink, it needs more time.
Tips & Tricks for the best smoked chicken thighs
If you have the time to make a homemade chicken rub, it makes a huge difference! That said, a store-bought dry rub is a great way to try new flavors. Any sweet based bbq rub works well.
If you want to add some spice to the rub, you can add some cayenne pepper.
Be sure to trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat or tendons before smoking. I like using kitchen shears for this.
When it comes to smoker temperature, if your smoker doesn’t go all the way down to 270°F, you can also smoke it at 275°F. You might want to check on your chicken a little sooner if you’re cooking at a higher temperature rather than at a lower temperature.
You don’t have to use boneless thighs. You can also use bone-in thighs for great flavor.
If you want to use skin-on chicken thighs, you may not get the same crispy skin you’d get if roasting and grilling. With this type of smoker, it’s cooking with indirect heat.
To get that crispy chicken skin, you’ll need to place the thighs skin side down. I find that skinless gives a better result from the smoking process. This is just a personal preference of mine.
The size of the thighs may impact the cook time. Larger chicken pieces may require additional cooking time.
Best wood pellets for smoking chicken thighs
When making this smoked chicken thighs recipe, it’s important to have the right kind of pellets to get the best flavor.
Different type of wood gives different type of flavor.
For a strong, smoky flavor, use Competition blend, mesquite, hickory wood, or oak.
For a sweeter smoke flavor, cherry wood or apple wood pellets will offer a milder taste.
How to thaw chicken thighs
Chicken thighs are one of our favorite cuts of chicken. Tender dark meat? Yes, please! You can bet I always have some in the freezer!
(Keep in mind these instructions are for chicken thighs, and you should research thawing a whole chicken if that’s what you’re looking for.)
In the fridge: If you can plan ahead, the fridge is one of the safest ways to defrost the chicken. Put the chicken in whatever package it’s already in inside a zip-top bag or in a plate/bowl/food prep container you can wash later if it gets juicy. It takes about 24 hours to thaw, but it’s great if you can plan in advance.
In water: Another safe method is to place the chicken in a zip-top bag so no water can reach the chicken. Fill a large pot or your sink with cold water and place the bag in the water. Change the water every 30 minutes or so until thawed.
You can also use hot water, which is faster, but you should only do this for 30 minutes. It’s only safe for small pieces of chicken like chicken thighs.
In the microwave: This is not my favorite method because chicken starts to cook in the microwave. But it can be done! Microwave the chicken for a minute at a time using the defrost setting. Rotate the pieces every minute and repeat until the chicken is thawed.
This article from The Cookful has a ton more great tips for thawing chicken properly.
How to store leftover chicken thighs
If you happen to have any leftovers from this chicken thigh recipe, you’ll definitely want to save it.
To store them in the refrigerator, allow them to cool completely and then place them in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for 3 days when stored properly.
You can take them out and use the leftovers in your favorite chicken recipes.
Can you smoke chicken thighs without an electric smoker?
You can use a smoker box on your gas grill to get a similar smoked flavor. You’ll just add wood chunks to the smoker box.
You can also use a charcoal smoker rather than an electric pellet style.
What to eat with smoked chicken thighs
Chicken thighs go well with all kinds of things! Especially alongside your favorite bbq sauce.
If you love quesadillas, you could change out my Smoked Turkey Pepper Jack Quesadillas for chicken.
Chicken is cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
Yes, like chicken legs, chicken thighs are considered dark meat.
More Smoker Recipes
- Smoked Queso Dip
- Smoked Baked Beans
- Pit Boss Ribs
- Smoked Burgers
- Smoked Skirt Steak
- Beer-Brined Smoked Turkey
Share on FacebookShare
Smoked Chicken Thighs Recipe
- Preheat the smoker to 270ºF.
- While the smoker is preheating, mix together the rub ingredients (brown sugar, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, and ground black pepper).
- Coat both sides of the chicken thighs with avocado oil, ensuring it’s completely coated. This is going to act as a binder for the rub.
- Sprinkle the rub all over both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in so that all of the surface is coated in the rub mix.
- Cover and let sit in the refrigerator until the smoker has finished preheating.
- Place the chicken directly on the grates of the smoker and close the lid.
- Smoke the chicken for 25-35 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Remove from the smoker and allow the chicken to rest at least 10 minutes before serving.
- If you have the time to make a homemade chicken rub, it makes a huge difference! That said, a store-bought rub is a great way to try new flavors.
- Be sure to trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat or tendons before smoking.
- If your smoker doesn’t go all the way down to 270°F, you can also smoke it at 275°F. You might want to check on your chicken a little sooner.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.