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  • Writer's pictureS. Lemon

Love is in the air! No wait, it's BBQ, never mind.

Updated: Feb 18, 2022

The juiciest Hickory BBQ Chicken Thighs that you will ever eat!

Are you used to chicken that is dry or just boring? Do you have a Traeger smoker and want to bring you "A" game for friends and family? Well if so, these hickory smoked bone-in chicken thighs are a great way to show your friends and family that you care. In fact, these bone-in chicken thighs will probably be the juiciest you have ever eaten.

Ever since I was a child, I rarely ever found chicken that was worth eating. Most of the time, the meat was dry and the flavor was dull. The more I learned about cooking, the more I strived to bring the tastiest and healthiest versions of foods to my kitchen table. At this point, I have become the focal point for cooking for my family and friends. This is one of those healthy recipes that people cannot get enough of. In fact, most don't realize that I am using a BBQ sauce with no added sugar and is super low in calories.

I firmly believe in a minimalist cooking style that uses plenty of spices and low calorie marinades to reduce calories without sacrificing flavor. The dry rub for this recipe is super simple, follows my minimal approach and most people will have all of these ingredients in their kitchen. Even better, these Traegar smoked chicken thighs are such a big hit, they can even be made for special occasions

I have used this recipe several times, mainly for weekend family dinners. But, a few times last year, a few of my friends started asking for them after seeing them posted on my Instagram. From that point, these hickory smoked chicken thighs have been the go-to request for special occasions, including a food train after a recent birth of my good friends son. Now if the Lemon Kitchen is hosting a special occasion, then hickory smoked chicken thighs are at the top of the list.

What makes chicken juicy?

The first and the key to getting chicken super juicy is using the right cut of chicken. Chicken thighs are naturally fattier, which means flavor. And as I always say, "fat is flavor". With chicken thighs, you the meat itself is fattier but you can also get additional fat from the skin. And if you are anything like my wife, the skin is the best part!

When purchasing chicken thighs, I recommend purchasing bone-in chicken thighs with skin on. Why you ask? Well there are two reason. First, the skin will help retain the moisture and two it's a lot cheaper. After you grill, smoke or bake the chicken thighs, you can discard the bone and the skin to help reduce calories. This is a trick I have been using to help manage my weight over the past several years.

Additionally, the benefit from skin-on chicken thighs is they soak up the flavor. Smoking the meat will enhance that flavor over a short period of time. If you have extra time and want to play with the flavor profile, you can try techniques such as brine, dredge or marinades. This is the best thing about cooking. There are dozens of methods to enhance and adjust your flavor profiles.

What temperature should you cook your chicken?

A good chicken recipe will require you to check the internal temperature to ensure you do not dry them out. The USDA recommends cooking chicken to at least 165°F. I have found through experimentation that this recipe will be good anywhere between 165° and 185°. I would make sure you have a good thermometer to ensure you can get an accurate internal temperature reading.

How to make chicken thighs even better

At this point, you might be asking if there are even more tricks to make your chicken taste better? Don't worry, there is! The key to a good crispy chicken thigh skin is making sure the chicken skin is dry before cooking it. If there is moisture in the skin, it will be soggy. The hack for a crispy skin is rather simple. About 4 to 6 hours prior to cooking, remove the chicken thighs from their package, place them on a wire rack, thoroughly pat them dry with a paper towel, lightly salt them, and put them back in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.

What smoker temperature should I cook my chicken thighs

Low and slow is the saying. Smoking at a lower temperature allows more time for the flavor to build. I would recommend starting your Traegar or other smoke at 225°F if you are trying to impress your family or friends.

So instead of belaboring this, let's get smokin'!

Hickory smoked BBQ Thighs Ingredients:

4 lbs of bone in/skin on chicken thighs 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp paprika

1 tsp Lawry seasoned salt

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp ground black pepper

¼ tsp ancho chili powder

1 Tbsp Olive or Avocado oil.

Traeger hickory pellets

BBQ 4 tbsp ghughessugarfree hickory BBQ Sauce

1-2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

Dry Rub: Mix brown sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder. and thoroughly season the chicken. Let sit for about 30-60 minutes to get up to room temperature.

Sauce: Mix until smooth and running. I would recommend doing this step about 5-10 minutes prior to being done cooking. Tip: internal temp should be around 180

Take the chicken out about 4 to 6 hours before cooking. Pat the chicken dry and add to a bowl. Pour 1 tbsp of oil on top and then the seasoning. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. Set the smoker at 225°. Once it comes to temp, add chicken. Cook for 1 hr 30 -1 hr 45 min until the chicken hits 157-160° inside. Increase the temp of the smoker to 375°. Cook for about 10 minutes until the internal temperature is 180°. Mix BBQ sauce and apple cider vinegar until it’s a little watery. Brush onto chicken. Cook for another 10 minutes. The BBQ should be sticky by then. Remove from the grill and let sit for 10 minutes. Serve with your favorite side.

Nutrition - 8 Servings:

Calories: 694

Protein: 48.1g

Fats: 53

Carbs: 1.7g

Fiber: 0g

Net Carb: 1.7g

Tip: If you want to crisp up the skin, you can pull the chicken out 4 hours before you cook. Thoroughly pat dry, liberally salt, put it on a wire rack and then put in the frig. This will help draw out the moisture from skin.

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