These smoked chicken thighs are juicy, tender and loaded with flavor. The blood orange glaze adds a sweet and spicy kick that everyone will love.
Chicken thighs are really easy to prepare using a pellet grill. The temperature control allows you to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the cooking process
Trimming and Preparing Smoked Chicken Thighs
Since this is just a backyard recipe we don’t need to do anything crazy when it comes to prepping the smoked chicken thighs.
When I compete in KCBS competitions it is a painstaking meticulous process involving a number of steps. Just look for any bone fragments or cartilage that may have been missed by the butcher.
I also like to take off any big pieces of fat that are hanging over the thighs. Flatten out the chicken thighs and square them up so they cook as evenly as possible.
After the chicken thighs have been trimmed let them sit in the fridge uncovered for at least a few hours to dry out the skin.
This will help the skin crisp up when it cooks. About 30 minutes before I am going to cook I will take the thighs out of the fridge and season them generously on both sides with a bbq dry rub of your choosing.
I have been using the Yardbird dry rub from plowboys bbq for my chicken both in competition and at home.
How to Smoke Chicken Thighs on a Pellet Grill.
Pellet grills are my favorite way to smoke meat at home. You don’t have to tend to a fire or constantly add fuel.
I personally have a RT-700 pellet grill from Rectec. It’s not only a great looking grill but it has great temperature control and can be monitored or adjusted from anywhere using the app connected to WiFi.
Chicken thighs absorb smoke quickly and are a much smaller cut than briskets or pork shoulders allowing you to cook at. Higher temperature.
This will give you much crispier skin than if you were to smoke at a lower temperature. Another trick to getting crispy skin is to spray the chicken thighs with Avocado oil pan spray every 30 minutes during the cooking process.
It’s a little more expensive but avocado oil is much cleaner and has a smoke point above 500 degrees F.
Blood Orange Glaze
Blood oranges have been available in my imperfect foods box lately so I’ve been taking advantage of using the beautiful citrus fruit.
Traditionally blood oranges are used in mostly Mediterranean cuisine but I find it also lends itself well to Asian recipes. The flavor of blood oranges has notes of raspberry combined with a sweet & slightly sour finish.
The combination of Orange Blossom honey and Blue Agave Sriracha from Yellowbird balances out the tangy bite of the blood orange. It also gives the glaze a glossy Lacquered finish when brushed on the chicken thighs.
Ingredients List for Blood Orange Glaze
- Blood Oranges
- Orange Blossom Honey
- BBQ Dry Rub I use Yardbird from Plowboys BBQ
- Soy Sauce
- Blue Agave Sriracha Yellowbird
- Chinese Five Spice
What temperature to cook Smoked Chicken Thighs?
Poultry should always be cooked to at least 160 degrees F. to prevent salmonella and other food borne illness.
That being said I prefer to cook my dark meat longer to around 185-190 degrees F. Dark meat has a higher fat content and will remain juicy even when cooked to a higher internal temperature.
Cooking to 185 degrees F. will also give you that fall off the bone tenderness that I prefer from dark meat. I use the same rules when smoking chicken wings.
When preparing chicken breast I only cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. otherwise it drys out very quickly. The probes that come with most pellet grills are ok but I always compare with an instant read thermometer.
They’re also the best way to check for tenderness when probing larger cuts like brisket.
More Chicken Recipes
- Easy Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- Chesapeake Garlic Parmesan Wings
- Bacon Wrapped Chicken Lollipops
- Buffalo Chicken Fatty
Smoked Chicken Thighs w/ Blood Orange Glaze
- Pellet Grill (I used the Rectec RT-700)
- 2 lb Chicken Thighs About 6 chicken thighs
Blood Orange Glaze
- 1 tsp Avocado Oil Spray
- 3 tbsp Butter
- To prepare the glaze simply sqeeze the juice of the blood oranges into a bowl and whisk together the remaining ingredients. the glaze doent need to be cooked but should be kept at room temperature. if making ahead of time just sit the glaze out on the counter when you preheat the smoker and it will be ready by the time you need it.
- Trim chicken thighs, cut any extra pieces of fat or bone fragments. if possible let thighs sit uncovered in the fridge for a few hours to dry out the skin. Once its time to season coat chicken thighs on both sides with bbq rub then let come up to room temperature.
- Pre Heat pellet grill to 375 degrees F. once grill has come to temp smoke the chicken thighs skin up for 1 hour. Spray Chicken thighs with avocado oil spray every 30 minutes.
- After an about one hour move the chicken thighs to a pan with 3 tbsp of butter and cook until chicken has reached an internal temp of 160 degrees F. and skin is crispy.
- Brush chicken thighs with glaze every 15 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.