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The Best Smoked Chicken Thighs (On The Traeger)

Traeger grills have become increasingly popular among barbecue enthusiasts for their ability to smoke meats to perfection. One of the most delicious and versatile cuts of meat to smoke on a Traeger grill is chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are known for their juicy and flavorful meat, making them an excellent choice for smoking. In this article, we will explore the process of smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill, from selecting the best thighs to achieving a crispy skin and serving suggestions.

Key Takeaways

  • Traeger smoked chicken thighs are a delicious and flavorful dish that can be enjoyed by anyone.
  • Choosing the right chicken thighs is important for achieving the best results when smoking.
  • Proper preparation, including brining and rubbing, is essential for creating the perfect flavor profile.
  • Smoking techniques and temperature control are key factors in achieving perfectly cooked chicken thighs.
  • Serving suggestions and tips and tricks can help you take your Traeger smoked chicken thighs to the next level.

Choosing the Best Chicken Thighs for Smoking

When it comes to smoking chicken thighs, it is important to choose the best quality meat. Look for chicken thighs that are fresh and have a pinkish color. Avoid thighs that are discolored or have a strong odor, as these may indicate spoilage. Additionally, consider whether you prefer bone-in or boneless chicken thighs. Bone-in thighs tend to have more flavor and moisture, while boneless thighs are easier to eat and cook more quickly.

Preparing the Chicken Thighs for Smoking

Before smoking the chicken thighs, it is important to trim any excess fat and skin. This will help prevent flare-ups and ensure even cooking. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove any excess fat from the thighs. You can also trim off any loose or hanging skin. Once the thighs are trimmed, season them generously with your choice of spices and herbs. This will add flavor to the meat as it smokes.

The Perfect Brine for Smoked Chicken Thighs

Brining chicken thighs before smoking them can greatly enhance their flavor and juiciness. Brining involves soaking the meat in a mixture of salt, sugar, and water for a period of time before cooking. The salt helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor, while the sugar adds a touch of sweetness. To make a simple and flavorful brine for smoked chicken thighs, combine 1/4 cup of salt, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 4 cups of water in a large bowl. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved, then add the chicken thighs. Allow the thighs to brine in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

The Best Rubs for Smoked Chicken Thighs

Rubs are a great way to add flavor to smoked chicken thighs. There are many different types of rubs available, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some popular options include barbecue rubs, Cajun rubs, and herb rubs. Barbecue rubs typically contain a combination of spices such as paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Cajun rubs are known for their spicy kick and often include ingredients like cayenne pepper, thyme, and oregano. Herb rubs are more subtle and can include a variety of herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage. If you prefer to make your own rub, here are a few recipes to try:

– Barbecue Rub: Combine 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme.
– Cajun Rub: Combine 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of onion powder, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
– Herb Rub: Combine 2 tablespoons of dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons of dried thyme, 1 tablespoon of dried sage, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder.

Smoking Techniques for Perfectly Cooked Chicken Thighs

To smoke chicken thighs on a Traeger grill, it is important to properly set up the grill and maintain consistent temperature and smoke levels. Start by preheating the grill to the desired smoking temperature, typically around 225°F to 250°F. Once the grill is preheated, add your choice of wood pellets to the hopper. Popular options for smoking chicken thighs include hickory, apple, and cherry wood pellets. Allow the grill to come back up to temperature and start producing smoke before adding the chicken thighs.

When placing the chicken thighs on the grill, make sure they are evenly spaced and not touching each other. This will allow for even cooking and smoke penetration. Close the lid of the grill and let the chicken thighs smoke for about 1 to 2 hours, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. During the smoking process, it is important to periodically check the temperature of the grill and adjust as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.

The Ideal Temperature for Smoking Chicken Thighs on a Traeger

The ideal temperature range for smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill is between 225°F and 250°F. This low and slow cooking method allows the meat to become tender and juicy while absorbing the smoky flavor from the wood pellets. To ensure that the chicken thighs are cooked to perfection, it is recommended to use a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone. Once the internal temperature reaches 165°F, the chicken thighs are ready to be removed from the grill.

How to Achieve a Crispy Skin on Smoked Chicken Thighs

While smoked chicken thighs are known for their juicy and flavorful meat, achieving a crispy skin can take them to the next level. To achieve a crispy skin, there are a few techniques you can try. One method is to start the chicken thighs on the Traeger grill at a low temperature for the majority of the cooking time, then finish them on high heat. This will help render the fat and crisp up the skin. Another technique is to brush the chicken thighs with oil or melted butter before smoking them. This will help promote browning and crispiness.

Serving Suggestions for Smoked Chicken Thighs

Smoked chicken thighs can be enjoyed as a main dish or used in a variety of recipes. As a main dish, serve the chicken thighs with your favorite barbecue sauce or hot sauce on the side. They pair well with classic barbecue sides such as coleslaw, baked beans, and cornbread. Smoked chicken thighs can also be used in tacos, salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes. Shred the meat and toss it with your favorite sauce or dressing for a flavorful twist.

Tips and Tricks for Making the Best Smoked Chicken Thighs on a Traeger

To ensure the best results when smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill, here are a few additional tips and tricks:

– Use a water pan: Placing a water pan in the grill can help maintain moisture and prevent the chicken thighs from drying out.
– Let the chicken thighs rest: After removing the chicken thighs from the grill, let them rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender final product.
– Avoid opening the lid too often: Opening the lid of the grill too frequently can cause temperature fluctuations and extend the cooking time. Try to resist the temptation to peek too often.
– Experiment with different wood pellets: Different types of wood pellets can impart different flavors to the meat. Don’t be afraid to try out different combinations to find your favorite.
– Practice patience: Smoking chicken thighs is a slow and steady process. It requires patience and attention to detail. Take your time and enjoy the process.

By following these tips and techniques, you can achieve perfectly smoked chicken thighs on your Traeger grill. Whether you’re a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, smoking chicken thighs is a delicious and rewarding experience. So fire up your Traeger grill, grab some chicken thighs, and get ready to enjoy some mouthwatering smoked goodness.

If you’re a fan of grilling and smoking, you’ll love this article on how to use your charcoal grill as a smoker. It’s a great way to add that smoky flavor to your favorite dishes, just like The Best Smoked Chicken Thighs (On The Traeger). Check it out here and take your grilling game to the next level!


What is a Traeger grill?

A Traeger grill is a type of wood pellet grill that uses wood pellets as fuel to cook food. It is known for its ability to smoke, grill, and bake food.

What are the benefits of smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill?

Smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill infuses them with a smoky flavor and creates a crispy skin. The Traeger grill also allows for precise temperature control, ensuring that the chicken thighs are cooked evenly and to the desired level of doneness.

What type of wood pellets should I use to smoke chicken thighs on a Traeger grill?

The type of wood pellets you use will affect the flavor of the chicken thighs. Hickory, apple, and mesquite are popular choices for smoking chicken thighs on a Traeger grill.

How long should I smoke chicken thighs on a Traeger grill?

The cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken thighs and the temperature of the grill. Generally, chicken thighs should be smoked for 1-2 hours at a temperature of 225-250°F.

What should I serve with smoked chicken thighs?

Smoked chicken thighs pair well with a variety of sides, such as roasted vegetables, corn on the cob, or a fresh salad. They also go well with a variety of sauces, such as barbecue sauce or honey mustard.

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