Smoked chicken quarters are tender, juicy, infused with that delicious smokey flavor, and slathered in our favorite barbecue sauce. Smoked meat normally takes a long time to cook, but you can have dinner on the table in just over 1 hour!
The whole family loves a good smoked main course meal. For Thanksgiving last year I made this easy smoked turkey recipe and it flew off the platter! I also perfected my smoked turkey injection recipe so that the bird was super juicy. So I figured it was time to try something else. These juicy smoked chicken quarters were even better, took less time, and are a budget friendly option when feeding a crowd.
Our favorite side dishes to serve with smoked chicken is instant pot corn on the cob, Amish potato salad, and buttery homemade dinner rolls. You can’t smoke meat without having a good beverage! We stay hydrated with peach white wine slushies, limoncello spritz, and strawberry sangria.
- chicken leg quarters – this is the part of the chicken where the leg and thigh are still attached. Dark meat is my favorite since it’s moister and richer than white meat, but you can cook breasts the same way.
- olive oil – keeps the seasoning on the skin and helps to get it crispy.
- smoked paprika, garlic powder, seasoned salt, coarse black pepper, and sea salt.
- barbecue sauce – use your favorite bbq sauce. We like Sweet Baby Ray’s. For a sugar free option, go with G Hughes.
For a full list of ingredients and their measurements, 📋 please view my printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.
This is a great recipe to garnish with extra sauces or have some of your favorite dipping sauces on the side. As for presentation, freshly chopped parsley adds a pop of color!
Substitutions and Variations
- Other cuts of chicken – you can follow this same method for individual chicken legs and chicken thighs. Dark meat is naturally juicy and flavorful compared to white meat, but you can also smoke chicken breasts and chicken wings if thats what you have.
- Use your favorite chicken rub or spice blends in place of our seasoning if desired.
- Spicy – add chili powder or cayenne pepper to the seasoning mixture.
- Smokier flavor – For more smoky flavor, smoke the seasoned chicken quarters at 225 degrees for 2 hours or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees. Follow the remaining instructions for searing the finished chicken.
PREP: Bring the smoker temperature to 275 degrees. Rinse the chicken leg quarters and pat dry with paper towels.
Step 1: Drizzle the chicken with oil and be sure to rub into all of the crevices.
Step 2: Combine the seasoning mix in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the leg quarters and rub to coat the chicken skin.
Step 3: Place the chicken on grill, skin side up, and close the lid. Use thermometer probe or digital meat thermometer to montior the temperature and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. This usually takes about 1 hour.
Step 4: Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, increase the temperature of the smoker to 450 degrees. Baste the bbq sauce on and sear on each side for 1-2 minute. This crisps up the skin and adds a nice char.
Pro Tip: When monitoring the temperature, make sure the thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.
Step 6: Take the chicken off the grill and allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes.
SERVE: Serve with your favorite sides and dipping sauces.
Cooking Tips for Perfect Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- You can use an electric smoker, pellet smoker, or charcoal smoker for this chicken recipe.
- Pellet grills typically produce a lighter smoke flavor regardless of the type of pellets that are used.
- If you don’t have a pellet grill, you can use a charcoal grill. Soak wood chips for 30 minutes in water. Once the grill has preheated, drain the water off the chips and dump them directly on the coals. When using a gas grill, dump the wood chips into aluminum foil. Make a few holes in it then lay it on a grate that is unlit.
- Depending on the type of smoker you have, the length of time may vary.
- Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking. This is the best way to get it to cook evenly.
- Cooking chicken at a lower temperature helps to keep the chicken juicy. Also, be sure you are cooking over indirect heat.
- You can normally find wood chips at your local grocery store on the charcoal aisle.
The most popular day for grilling is July 4th.
Fruit woods such as pecan, apple, cherry, and maple are always a good choice. Hickory is another option you can’t go wrong with. It’s important to choose the right type of wood chips that will give the best flavor to what you are cooking. Other types of meats such as beef and pork are better with oak, mesquite, and pecan, but we like a mild wood with poultry.
Keep leftover chicken for up to 4 days in an airtight container.
If you tried this Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you liked it in the 📝 comments below.
Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters
- 4 chicken leg quarters
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup barbecue sauce
- Heat smoker to 275°F.
- Rinse chicken leg quarters and pat dry.
- Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken leg quarters and rub into all of the crevices.
- Combine paprika, garlic powder, seasoned salt, black pepper, and salt in a small bowl to make a spice rub. Sprinkle the rub over the tops and backs of the chicken pieces and rub into the skin to coat completely.
- Place the chicken on the smoker and close the lid. Use a meat thermometer to monitor the temperature of the chicken and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 1 hour.
- When the chicken is to temperature, increase the temperature of the smoker to 450°F.
- Use a basting brush to apply a generous layer of barbecue sauce to the chicken. Sear on each side for 1-2 minutes to create some char and crisp up the skin (this step is optional, but it makes the chicken taste oh so delicious.)
- Remove the chicken from the smoker/grill and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.