You don’t have to be a pitmaster to make smoked chicken leg quarters. It’s easier than you think.
Perfectly seasoned with a dry rub and smoked at a low temperature, these are tender, juicy, smoky chicken leg quarters that your whole family will love!
Super moist and tender, you’ll love the sweet, smoky flavor of my chicken quarters. And meal prep couldn’t be easier.
When it comes to my chicken quarters recipe, I prefer using chicken leg quarters. This cut of chicken has dark meat quarters that will be incredibly moist and juicy, whereas the white meat of chicken breast quarters has a tendency to dry out and get tough.
Ingredients to make Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
Let’s start by gathering the ingredients we need to make Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters. In Chef Speak, this is called the “Mise en Place,” which translates to “Everything in its Place.”
Not only does setting up your ingredients ahead of time speed up the cooking process, it also helps ensure you have everything you need to make the dish.
Made with simple ingredients
- chicken leg quarters
- kosher salt
- smoked paprika
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- black pepper
- cayenne pepper (optional)
Can I use other spices in my dry rub?
Yes, you can. The key to making delicious smoked chicken that you and your family will love is to use seasonings that you enjoy eating.
Changing up the spices in this simple chicken rub is easy and definitely something you can do each time you prepare smoked chicken. Other seasonings you could add are cumin, chili powder, dry oregano, ground ginger, turmeric, and coriander.
You can also use your favorite spice blend. Cajun seasoning, Jerk seasoning, Barbecue seasoning, and Old Bay can be used instead of making your own dry rub.
For a sweet rub, add brown sugar to the seasonings. Or, if you like heat, cayenne pepper is usually the best way to kick up the flavor of your smoked chicken legs — but be careful because a little can go a long way.
How to make Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
Start by getting the dry rub for the chicken ready.
- Add the seasonings for the dry rub to a small bowl.
- Mix seasonings thoroughly to combine fully.
- Pat the chicken leg quarters dry with paper towels.
- Spread the dry rub generously over the chicken, making sure to season all sides of the chicken quarters for a well-balanced flavor.
To achieve the best flavor, let the seasoned chicken set for 30 minutes to give the dry rub time to penetrate the chicken and marinate it with the seasonings. This also gives the chicken time to come to room temperature prior to putting it in the smoker.
Preheat the smoker to 250 degrees F. and add the wood chips to the smoker. I used cherry wood chips for this dish, but feel free to use your favorite wood chip.
Place the seasoned chicken in a shallow foil pan and place the pan on a smoker rack in the preheated smoker and cook the chicken leg quarters for 2.5 hours or until an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees is reached.
*Alternatively, you can place the chicken directly on the rack in the smoker, placing a drip pan on the rack below the chicken.
*Use a digital meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken to make sure the internal temperature is at least 165 degrees.
To store leftover chicken leg quarters, place in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What type of smoker should I use?
There are lots of great smokers to choose from, and for the most part, it comes down to a personal choice or where you live.
- Old-fashioned charcoal smokers have been around for ages, and there are many different brands to choose from, ranging from Kettle-style to the Big Green Egg.
- Wood-burning offset smokers are popular with the really serious barbecue aficionados, but they smoke like crazy and may not be popular with your neighbors.
- Pellet smokers are a high-tech combination of an oven and a smoker. They combine the extra smokey flavor of actual combustion with the convenience of an electric smoker.
- Electric smokers are becoming a very popular option with home barbecue enthusiasts. They are a good choice and a much safer option. Depending on where you live, they could be the only style of smoker you’re allowed to use.
Depending on the style of smoker you choose, you could also have the option of using propane instead of charcoal. Cabinet-style smokers also offer this option.
When it comes to creating delicious smoked meat, my electric smoker never fails me. With just a few minutes prep, I load the smoker, set the timer, and just wait for the delicious smoked chicken leg quarters to be ready.
And my easily adaptable chicken rub lets you adjust the flavors to suit your taste, making chicken leg quarters your whole family will love.
While the smoking process adds a lot of flavor to the meat, something magical happens to the chicken when you add a layer of tangy barbecue sauce. If you have the time or inclination, start with your favorite barbecue sauce and add a few ingredients to create your own signature bbq sauce and kick up the flavor of your favorite barbecued meats. I also enjoy a good Alabama White sauce with smoked chicken.
Use a basting brush to coat the chicken leg quarters with bbq sauce and serve with your favorite side dishes. My easy-to-make coleslaw is one of my favorite side dishes with barbecue. Or grab a pack of slaw mix and add my homemade coleslaw dressing.
Yes, it does. For cooked chicken to be considered safe to eat, the minimum internal temperature of the meat must reach at least 165 degrees. That doesn’t mean that you should overcook the chicken. Always use an instant-read thermometer to make sure the chicken has reached the proper temperature.
At 225 degrees Fahrenheit, it will take between 3 – 3.5 hours to smoke chicken quarters. At 275-300 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect to smoke your chicken quarters for 1.5-2 hours. Of course, cooking time can vary based on size.
Both temperatures are acceptable for smoking chicken, and it really comes down to time and your personal preference. 250 is the highest temp I would smoke chicken at. Any higher and the results will not be as good.
Is it better to smoke chicken leg quarters with or without skin?
Chicken leg quarters are best when they still have their skin. If you like crispy chicken skin, be sure to finish them briefly in the oven at a high temperature — 450 degrees Fahrenheit works best.
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I love the ThermoPro wireless meat thermometers. The easy to use app makes it easy to track the temperatures of the meats and seafood your cooking.
You get a great variety of wood chips with this starter pack. You get one bag of apple, cheery, mesquite, and hickory wood chips in each variety pack.