These Traeger Chicken Thighs will be the best chicken of your life. Tender bbq chicken thighs made in a pellet smoker are so easy. And every bite from the moist bone-in chicken to the crispy chicken skin tastes amazing.
In life, there are a few different foods that when presented in front of me, I have a strong urge to pick them up with my hands and devour them. These Traeger Chicken Thighs create that feeling in me.
The reason I love chicken thighs, is I feel they deliver the same flavors and textures that we love with wings, but there is substantially more meat on them and they create a better case for being the main course and not just an appetizer. The crispy skin and the moist dark meat of the chicken thigh leave me satisfied.
My wife's favorite part of these is the crispy skin. Crispy is her thing. Occasionally we will order wings from one of our favorite restaurants and she always demands extra crispy. Having the skin on these thighs maybe a few extra calories, but it is worth it for that yummy crunch!
Next time you are trying to figure out what you are cooking, try making this Traeger grilled chicken thighs recipe. They are delicious and will be the best smoked chicken thighs you've ever tasted.
Make sure to try our Traeger Beer Can Chicken next!
Bone-In Chicken Thighs - Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs are moist and tender and hard to overcook. They are also a very economical choice.
Kosher Salt - Salt is a must for cooking as it enhances natural flavors
Black Pepper - Pepper will also compliment the salt and enhance natural flavor
Garlic Powder - We love garlic so we use it a lot! It goes well with smoked meats.
Smoked Paprika - Boosts the smoky flavor a ton.
How to Make Traeger Chicken Thighs
Step One: Season the chicken thighs.
Expert Tip: Be sure to coat the chicken well and then flip them over to coat the other side.
Step Two: Place the seasoned chicken thighs skin side up on your preheated Traeger pellet grill grates at 325°F. Cook them until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. This will take approximately 40 minutes.
Step Three: Remove the grilled chicken from the Traeger grill and let rest for about five minutes. This helps the moisture stay inside the meat when it is sliced. The internal temp may rise to 165 degrees on your meat thermometer but since this is dark meat, the chicken will not dry out.
Step Four: Serve and enjoy!
Use a meat thermometer! Chicken thighs are pretty forgiving if overcooked but it is still possible. Cook until 160 at the thickest part of a chicken thigh and let them rest until they reach 165.
Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs - If you want to make boneless chicken thighs check out our How to Smoke Chicken Thighs guide.
Chicken Breasts - If you want to cook breasts instead of thighs this Smoked Chicken Breast recipe is for you!
Marinade - I you want you can marinade the chicken ahead of time. We like to use an easy recipe like a combination of olive oil or avocado oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, and garlic. Put the chicken and marinade in a ziplock bag. Let rest for an hour or two. Then remove the chicken, discard the extra marinade, and pat the chicken dry before adding to the smoker.
Is preheating the smoker necessary?
YES! Whenever you are looking to cook nice crispy chicken thighs on pellet grill or any other grill or smoker, you must preheat it and bring the Traeger temperature up before you place chicken thighs on the grill.
Additionally, when you are cooking on the pellet grill or smoker, you also want to make sure that it has that good smoking going on. Because these are smaller it will be a quicker smoke at a higher temperature. If we are looking for that bbq chicken, smoked chicken flavor, we need to make sure those wood flavors are in full throttle.
When choosing the wood pellet for the smoke, pick something that you enjoy. I went with a lighter flavor and selected the Traeger cherry wood pellets. It only used about 1-2 lbs of pellets for this recipe.
How do I season smoked chicken thighs?
All you need to season Traeger smoked chicken thighs is a little of my favorite Smoked Paprika Rub. It has just 4 savory ingredients but a ton of flavor.
This rub is also perfect on Traeger Chicken Wings too. For a couple more variations on this dry rub you can add brown sugar or a brown sugar sweetener for a sweet rub, onion powder for an onion flavor, or some cayenne pepper for a spicy rub. Or try this Traeger Coffee Rub Recipe.
What should I serve with Traeger Chicken Thighs?
I served these chicken thighs as the main course with a delicious homemade broccoli slaw alongside some Instant Pot baked potatoes with butter. If you want to cook the whole meal in the Traeger, our smoked mac and cheese will make it pretty easy.
You can serve this as a main course or even as an appetizer. I like to eat these with my hands and I am guilty of cleaning the bone pretty well. If you want to be a little more elegant at dinner, you are free to use a fork and knife. These thighs will not disappoint.
You can serve them with bbq sauce if you would like but we generally find that they don't need anything extra after being smoked. We like the smokey flavor to shine through.
How do I reheat leftovers?
The best way to heat up leftover chicken thighs is to heat them skin-side down in a skillet on your stovetop. This helps the chicken skin to crisp up again.
Alternatively, you can cut up leftover chicken and use it in salads such as a chicken salad or mix it into a chicken casserole before baking.
Traeger Chicken Thighs
- Traeger Grill or other smoker
- 3 lbs bone in chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Mix the dry ingredients. Season the chicken thighs with the seasoning mixture. Be sure to coat both sides of the chicken.
- Preheat grill or smoker to 325°F. Once the grill is hot, place chicken thighs onto the grill and cook until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. It will take approximately 40 minutes.
- Remove smoked chicken thighs from the grill and let them rest for about 5 minutes then serve.
Originally Published September 3, 2021. Revised and Republished January 3. 2024.