Tease your tastebuds with smoky goodness from tender and juicy Smoked Boneless Chicken Thighs. They sizzle with a flavor explosion from herbs and spices with the tang of mustard and lemon juice. Spicy or not, it will surely ignite your senses to a mouthwatering smoking dining experience.
I love how simply smoking in a pellet grilling affects the flavor of every dish. And the waft of savory aroma is enough to make you as hungry as a…, well, you get the idea. These effortless smoked boneless chicken thighs awaken every taste I have as soon as they’re in my Traeger pellet grill.
Talk about an exciting roller coaster of emotions as they challenge my patience waiting for them to finish smoking. So after 90 minutes, I can’t help but take a bite out of one before getting them on the table. Just consider it as a “chicken tax.”🤭
Why Smoke Boneless Chicken Thighs
I prefer boneless chicken thighs because they are juicier and tastier than the breast. Plus, boneless is easier to eat. No more annoying bones to slow you down. But, of course, this recipe also works with all cuts of chicken, whether boneless or bone-in.
The flavor depends on the seasoning and your smoking technique. But there’s no need to go fancy because the chicken is naturally delicious. With your favorite herbs and spices, you’re good to go. That way, the essence of the chicken shines through while smoky goodness takes it over the top. 👌
This homemade marinade perfectly complements the chicken thighs, making them the best-smoked chicken ever. 😉
- Chicken – Go for boneless so you can munch on these smoked chicken fillets mess-free and hassle-free. You can leave the skin on if you want some crusty exterior. Or take the skin out for a healthier option.
- Marinade – Olive oil moistens the chicken while lemon juice and Dijon mustard add some zing—soy sauce for umami, and thyme, garlic, and parsley to season it perfectly.
How to Smoke Boneless Chicken Thighs
Prepare the Chicken Thighs
- Season – Lightly salt and pepper chicken and place in a large bowl or zippered bag. (Photo 1)
- Whisk the olive oil, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, thyme, garlic, chopped parsley, lemon juice, and pepper flakes in a medium mixing bowl. (Photo 2)
- Marinate – Pour marinade over the chicken and thoroughly mix to coat every inch entirely. Seal up the bag or cover the dish with plastic and refrigerate for a couple of hours, ideally overnight. That will allow the flavors to meld and infuse into the chicken. (Photos 3-4)
- Room Temperature – Remove the marinated chicken thighs from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before smoking.
Pellet Grill the Chicken Thighs
- Drain – When ready to cook, remove chicken from the marinade, shake off any excess particles, and discard the remaining marinade.
- Prep – Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 225-250°F (107-121°C). I used a Traeger pellet grill for this recipe.
- Transfer – Place the chicken thighs directly on the smoker grates, leaving some space between them for even airflow and smoke circulation. (Photo 5)
- Smoke – Close the smoker and let the chicken thighs smoke for approximately 1½ hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) when you insert your instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Thighs vary in size. (Photo 6)
- Baste – As the smoking gets close to done, you can baste the chicken thighs during the last 5-10 minutes.
- Remove – Once the chicken thighs reach the desired temperature, carefully remove them from the smoker and transfer them to a cutting board.
- Rest – Allow the chicken thighs to rest for 5-10 minutes to retain their juices and ensure tenderness.
- Serve – Serve with BBQ sauce or your favorite side dishes.
- Chicken Part Swaps – You can use any chicken cuts you like for this recipe. However, the cooking time varies depending on the chicken’s size and cut.
- Marinade Swaps – Add toasted sesame oil for an Asian twist, a spoonful of natural creamy peanut butter for an African flair, and buttermilk for Southern style.
- Grilled – If you have a grill, add some wood pellets in a foil envelope and slow-cook your chicken thighs away from the hottest part of the grill on indirect heat.
- Roasted – Don’t let the weather keep you from enjoying this recipe. Oven-roast your chicken thighs for about 30 minutes at 400℉/205℃. 😉
Tips and Tricks
- When using a pellet grill, apple, cherry, and maple wood pellets complement the chicken thighs perfectly.
- The resting period and basting are crucial to flavorful and juicy chicken thighs. Let them rest after cooking and baste them 5 minutes before removing them from the grill.
- Don’t overcook them. Another advantage of thighs over breasts is that they’re more forgiving. But all the same, check for doneness with a thermometer. They should cook to 165℉/75℃ internal temperature for juicy chicken.
Of course, you can smoke these boneless chicken thighs ahead. Or you can make the marinade in advance and store it in an airtight container for future use. Alternatively, you can marinate your chicken up to 24 hours ahead for penetrating flavor power. Then refrigerate them for two days or freeze them for three months.
Serving and Storage Instructions
- Uncooked – Leftover smoke boneless chicken thighs will stay fresh in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag in the fridge for up to 2 days and up to 4 months in the freezer. Remember to label it.
- Cooked – If stored properly, they will keep in the fridge for up to four days and four months in the freezer.
- Reheat – You can zap leftovers in the microwave or heat them up in the oven. Serve it with rice or salad for a nourishing meal.
The smoking time varies according to what equipment you use. For this smoker pellet grill, you can smoke boneless skinless chicken thighs for 1½ hours or until the thickest part cooks to an internal temperature of 165℉/75℃.
I usually preheat my smoker or pellet grill to 225-250℉/107-120℃. Then I check the internal temperature after an hour to ensure the chicken thighs cook perfectly.
Hmmm. The FDA recommends 165℉/74℃ for a reason. Salmonella from undercooked chicken is not a risk I can recommend with good conscience. That said, if you have sourced your chicken from a guaranteed safe vendor, enjoy it at whatever temperature you like.
What to Serve With Smoked Boneless Chicken Thighs
Complement the delectable smoky flavors of your boneless chicken thighs with an array of delicious side dishes. Smoked baked potatoes, grilled onions, and grilled bread are excellent sides. And Southern potato salad goes with chicken whenever you can.
More Decadent Chicken Recipes to Try
- Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Wing Flats
- Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad
- Southern Fried Chicken
These effortless smoked boneless chicken thighs are undeniably delicious, not to mention kid-friendly. Do you use a regular smoker or a pellet grill? Let me know in the comments.
Smoked Boneless Chicken Thighs
- 6-8 boneless chicken thighs (2-2½ pounds or about 1kg)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons (30-45ml) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30g) Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons (2g) thyme, minced
- 1 tablespoon (7g) minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon (4g) parsley, chopped
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ teaspoon (1g) pepper flakes (optional)
Prep the Chicken
- Lightly salt and pepper chicken and place in a large bowl or zip lock bag.
- In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, thyme, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, and pepper flakes.
- Pour marinade over the chicken and thoroughly mix until every inch is fully coated in marinade. Seal the bag or cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, ideally overnight. This will allow the flavors to meld and infuse into the chicken.
- Remove the marinated chicken thighs from the refrigerator and let them sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before smoking.
Cook the Chicken Thighs
- When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the marinade, drain off the excess, and discard the remaining marinade.
- Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 225-250°F (107-121°C). I used a Traeger pellet grill for this recipe.
- Place the chicken thighs directly on the smoker grates, leaving some space between them for even airflow and smoke circulation.
- Close the smoker and let the chicken thighs smoke for approximately 1½ hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) when measured with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. Thighs vary in size, resulting in varying smoke times.
- During the smoking process, you can baste the chicken thighs during the last 5-10 minutes of smoking.
- Once the chicken thighs reach the desired temperature, carefully remove them from the smoker and transfer them to a cutting board.
- Allow the chicken thighs to rest for 5-10 minutes to retain their juices and ensure tenderness.
- Serve with BBQ sauce and your favorite side dishes.
- When choosing pellets for chicken, fruitwood (apple, cherry, peach) is excellent for smoking chicken. It delivers a mild and slightly sweet flavor that complements the natural taste of the meat without overpowering it. Apple, cherry, and peach wood pellets are widely available and are versatile options for smoking poultry.
- A good meat thermometer ensures your chicken thighs are fully cooked and safe. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. They’re ready when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Consider brining the chicken thighs before smoking them, as it enhances their flavor and moisture, resulting in juicy and flavorful meat.
- If brining the chicken, leave the salt out of the marinade.
- Please remember that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.