It's time you met some summertime eats that are easy on your budget and your tastebuds. That's right, this easy Smoked Chicken Legs recipe is guaranteed to wow your guests, yet won't leave you pinching pennies for the weeks to come. It's a win any way you look at it!
This chicken is tender, juicy, and full of those deliciously complex smoky flavors. Plus, this method is going to give you some seriously crispy skin that will have your mouth watering just looking at it. Those recipes claiming you need to pan-sear are just adding extra steps for no good reason. If you smoke them long enough at the right temperature, you'll find it isn't necessary at all.
Okay, this secret rub recipe keeps our guests swooning for this chicken time and time again. In fact, our marinade/rub is so delicious, it'll have you second-guessing whether or not the bbq sauce is truly necessary. And you know that's a big deal for all of us in the Lone Star State!
You can use a pellet grill or an offset smoker for this recipe. Smoking drumsticks is beyond simple. You might just find yourself falling back on this one as a go-to staple this Summer and you can be sure no one would be mad about it. For more savory goodness, check out our crockpot chicken legs, smoked pork chops, smoked turkey breast, and smoked brisket as well. Now on to the recipe!
Oh, and one more thing! This recipe honestly works great for just about any cut of dark meat. Chicken thighs, chicken wings... it all takes on that smoke flavor beautifully and the wet rub keeps you from ending up with a tough, dry protein. You'll get moist and juicy meat every single time.
ABOUT THE RUB
The rub is really what sets our Smoked Chicken Legs apart from the rest. Most chicken rubs consist of brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and so on. However, rather than hitting our chicken legs with a dry rub, we like to bring in something called a wet rub.
Wet rubs are very similar to dry rubs -- they are packed with spice and excellent for adding flavor to smoked and grilled meats -- the only difference is, there is a wet component added. For example, a wet rub might contain a liquid such as beer, bourbon, vinegar, or even olive oil.
The bonus of using a wet rub, as opposed to your standard dry rub, is it actually doubles up as a marinade. The juices and acids from marinades are what help to break down meat, which in turn, helps the meat absorb all those delicious flavors.
In this case, the wet component in our rub/marinade is actually mustard. At first glance, mustard might seem like a strange ingredient in a smoked chicken legs recipe, but rest assured -- in the smoker, that crisp, vinegary mustard flavor you get straight out of the bottle mellows out and leaves behind a perfectly subtle note of tangy goodness, that contrasts perfectly with the savory, smoky flavor that penetrates the chicken as it cooks.
The mustard also acts as a glue for the spices, keeping them intact throughout the duration of the cook.
And, if you still have any hesitations about using mustard in your smoked chicken drumsticks, keep in mind, people have raved over this recipe in our house for years, and we're finally sharing it! It's a win; guaranteed!
In addition to the yellow mustard, you'll also need Kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika for your wet spice rub.
HOW TO MAKE SMOKED CHICKEN LEGS
Once you've got your rub ingredients combined in a large bowl, add your chicken legs directly to the bowl and rub all over with the mustard and spices. At this point, you can either begin preheating your smoker, or you can transfer your drumsticks to a gallon-sized, zip-top bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
Once your smoker is preheated to 275°F with your wood of choice, place your chicken legs on the smoker, close the cooker, and cook for about 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, flip the chicken legs and rotate their placement around your smoker. Rotating the chicken legs will promote even cooking.
Once you have your chicken legs in place, close the smoker and continue cooking for another 45 minutes. As soon as your cook time is up, use an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the drumstick to determine the doneness of your chicken.
Note, depending on your smoker, cook times can vary! We recommend taking the temperature of your chicken legs starting at the 1 hour and 15-minute mark. This ensures that your chicken legs do not overcook!
We highly recommend investing in an instant-read thermometer. This is by far the best way to gauge the doneness of your chicken! Smoked chicken can have a pink tinge to the meat; it's the same reaction that causes the pink smoke ring on brisket and ribs. This coloring may be caused by the natural smoke constantly circulating throughout the smoker and which can be misleading if you are judging the chicken's doneness based on looks alone.
Once the Smoked Chicken Legs reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit, you're ready to enjoy your new favorite chicken recipe!
6 SIDES YOU’LL LOVE WITH SMOKED CHICKEN LEGS
- Homemade Baked Beans
- 7 Layer Salad
- Fried Okra
- Green Beans With Tomatoes
- Creamed Corn
- Yellow Squash Casserole
Here at The Anthony Kitchen, we love a good, classic side dish done right. Anything from creamed corn to baked beans would work great with this smoked chicken recipe.
That being said, we also love to spice things up a little by serving this one with some cool and refreshing sides. Something about the contrast of the hearty and smokey flavors of the meat versus the lighter, more crisp, and fresh elements of say, a chopped salad just really brings the whole meal together and makes it feel very complete. Try out some of the side options we've gathered for you and let us know which you prefer!
Making Smoked Chicken Legs does not have to be complicated or intimidating. This recipe is simple, yet the outcome is to die for!
- ½ cup yellow mustard
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 8-12 chicken legs
In a large bowl, whisk together mustard, Kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika.
Add the chicken legs to the bowl, and rub them all over with the mustard and spices. If desired, transfer to a gallon-sized zip-top bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Although, the chicken can be added to the smoker as soon as it has finished preheating.
Preheat your smoker to 275° with your wood of choice.
Remove the chicken legs from the bag, place them directly on the smoker, and close the lid. Cook for about 45 minutes, then flip and rotate the placement of the chicken legs. Cook for about 45 minutes more.
When your chicken legs have reached an internal temperature of 165°F, remove them from the smoker and tent with aluminum foil for about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.