Traeger smoked chicken thighs marinaded in teriyaki sauce are killer! Tender meat with tons of flavor in less than an hour on your pellet grill and smoker.
We made Traeger smoked chicken thighs marinaded in teriyaki sauce the other night and they were amazing! So great that I thought we should share this easy smoker recipe with all of you. (originally published 6/20, affiliate links present)
Smoked Chicken Thighs
We started this journey creating a lot of electric smoker recipes. I kid you not, everything tastes better on the grate of this or a Traeger pellet grill I tell you.
Those will work too if you’re looking for more ideas.
Smoked Chicken Marinade
Let’s start with a step by step rundown of how we made these beauties. Of course you can use a different chicken marinade, but the one from our baked chicken teriyaki is our favorite and what was used here.
These need defrosted or fresh meat. If you wake up and realize you forgot to do that, follow our air fryer frozen chicken thighs recipe instead. 😉
Traeger chicken thighs
Here are a few questions you might have before you go any further:
We think 300 degrees F is just about right. Higher than that won’t make them as tender, and lower than that just takes a lot longer and doesn’t seem to make a huge difference.
Yes, we do. Initially the skin side is facing down to get a nice grill on them a bit. Then halfway through I flip them over so the top gets a bit more of a glaze on it (if you use a marinade).
Time will vary depending on their size, I recommend always choosing medium size pieces. In general, 60 minutes is perfect. 50 minutes is perfect for us to come to a safe internal temp of 165 degrees F.
I personally love thighs, over and above chicken breasts. They are one of the cheapest cuts, and brown meat is so much more tender and juicy than white.
What is the best teriyaki sauce?
How do you make homemade teriyaki sauce from scratch?
Use our homemade teriyaki sauce recipe here. You can adjust the heat level that way too. Add more Sriracha for sweet and spicy, or omit for a mild YUM.
How long to smoke chicken thighs
Count on 1 hour 30 minutes total. This will account for the time it will take for your smoker to come to temp. We set it higher at the beginning since when you open the lid a lot of heat escapes. Then once they’re in we set it for 300 F for 50 min.
How to Smoke Chicken Thighs
Quick step by step is here but we have a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post as well:
Time needed: 50 minutes.
Traeger Smoked Chicken
- Marinade chicken
Put chicken in gallon freezer bag with jar of teriyaki sauce and lay flat in your fridge for at least 3 hours. Alternatively you could just coat with a dry rub as well.
- Preheat smoker
Add desired Traeger wood pellets and set your smoker to 350 degrees F.
- Cook chicken
Put thighs directly on the grate with the skin side down (or bone side up if they’re skinless. Slow smoke it for 25 minutes, then flip it over for another 25 minutes.
Cook time for this Traeger chicken will vary within 5 – 15 minutes if pieces are very thick.
Remove and check to ensure middle of thighs are 165 degrees F, and then allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Electric smoker chicken thighs
Can you follow these same instructions if you have an electric smoker too? Of course. Those models typically use wood chips instead of pellets but work similarly.
I love the fact that ours has WiFi so we can check the temperature right on our phones. If you haven’t chosen one, or looking to upgrade yours I would highly recommend this upgrade.
- I like this electric thermometer too if yours doesn’t have one built in.
- It makes it really easy to check the internal temp for everything including beef and chicken wings on the grill.
Why is my smoked chicken skin rubbery?
When smoking skin-on chicken, the fat in the skin doesn’t get hot enough to for golden brown crispy chicken skin. Unlike grilled chicken, or when you make air fryer chicken thighs the skins will look much different.
With that said these will have an amazing smoke flavor and is some of the most delicious chicken you’ll ever taste.
Ways to solve this problem are: to put them on a sheet pan and under the broiler, throw them into the air fryer at 400 for a few minutes, or sear the outsides in a pan.
- We don’t bother with any of these steps because none of us eat chicken skin. Whether it is crispy or softer like this it gets stripped off either way before consuming.
- Many times I will use skinless bone-in thighs for this reason. That way the meat soaks up more of the marinade, and we aren’t skin lovers to begin with.
Looking for other smoked meats?
- If you haven’t made a smoked turkey yet it is incredible.
- Beer can chicken on the smoker is super flavorful and a new way to try a whole bird.
- Then give bacon wrapped pork chops a whirl at home.
If you want to make oven baked teriyaki chicken thighs you can follow this recipe instead.
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Traeger Smoked Chicken Thighs
- Empty jar of teriyaki sauce into a gallon freezer bag with chicken thighs. Zip closed, move around so all are coated and lay flat in your fridge for a good 3 hours or more.
- Preheat your smoker to 350 degrees F.
- Once it is up to temp. use tongs to place thighs with bones facing up (or skin side down if they have skin) directly on the grate.
- Close lid and then adjust temp. down to 300 degrees F. for 25 minutes.
- Open and flip each piece over. Close lid and continue cooking for another 25 minutes or until internal temp when removed from the grate reaches 165 degrees F.
- Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes once removed before cutting to maintain juiciness.