This simple Smoked Chicken Quarters recipe is a Summertime staple for all of our cookouts, barbecues, parties and family dinners!
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For this smoker recipe, chicken pieces are dry brined in our Brown Sugar Spice Rub and smoked for just a few hours until juicy and delicious! This tasty recipe creates juicy chicken legs with great smoky flavor! Try it glazed with our Tangy Apricot BBQ Sauce!
Ingredients For This Recipe
The perfect Smoked Chicken Leg Quarters only require a few ingredients and a few hours of your time! Here's what you'll need:
- Chicken Quarters - For the juiciest smoked chicken that is bursting with great flavor, we prefer dark meat chicken quarters. However, if you prefer, this recipe can also be made with bone-in split chicken breasts. If using white meat, this chicken recipe will cook up even faster!
- Cayenne - Cayenne pepper is an optional ingredient for the dry rub. Add it if you'd like to flavor the chicken with a little spicy kick!
Brown Sugar Spice Rub
This easy chicken rub can be used for flavoring all sorts of delicious smoked meats. This rub recipe calls for brown sugar and a combination of chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, dried mustard, salt and an optional dash of cayenne pepper. We like to make a big batch of this Brown Sugar Spice Rub in the beginning of the season and use it for our grilling and smoking needs, all Summer long! That being said, feel free to use whatever spice blend you like for this recipe. A lemon pepper, Cajun-style or smoky chipotle style rub would all be delicious for this recipe.
For the best results, let the seasoned chicken quarters soak up that flavor (while refrigerated) for 12 - 24 hours before smoking. After smoking, you can glaze the Smoked Chicken Quarters skin with your favorite barbecue sauce! (Our favorite is our recipe for homemade Apricot BBQ Sauce - it's tangy, delicious and compliments the great flavor of smoked chicken very well!)
Tips for Perfectly Smoked Chicken
This chicken quarters recipe can be made in whatever style of smoker you typically use. Personally, we have a simple bullet smoker that Scott adopted during the 2020 quarantine. (We ate a LOT of smoked meat that year!) However, this recipe works great with Traeger pellet grills, offset smokers or even an electric smoker. Whichever smoker you use, we recommend following these simple tips:
- Choose wood chips with a light, fruity flavor. The type of wood chips you smoke with will have a big impact on the chicken's smoky flavor. Our personal preference is to use applewood or cherry wood chips. We find these are the best wood chips to impart a slightly fruity, lighter smoke flavor. Hickory and mesquite wood chips can be used, but have very intense flavor that tend to overpower the chicken, in our opinion.
- Preheat the smoker to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees celsius). Smoking the chicken at this lower temperature will ensure the bird will stay juicy and full of flavor throughout the cooking process.
- Allow chicken quarters to come up to room temperature before smoking. Room temperature proteins cook faster and more evenly. For the juiciest results, allow the chicken to sit out of the refrigerator for one hour, while you prepare your smoker.
More tips below!
Tips for Perfectly Smoked Chicken, Continued....
- Use a leave-in digital probe meat thermometer or instant read thermometer to determine your chicken's doneness. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the leg to ensure the chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat. The length of time needed to smoke your chicken quarters will depend on the bird's size and constantly maintained temperature of your smoker. The cooking time could range anywhere from 2 - 3 hours. For the best results, take out the guess work by temping the chicken thighs.
- Smoke chicken until internal temperature reaches 170 - 175 degrees Fahrenheit (77 - 80 degrees celsius). While chicken is technically cooked at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, we recommend smoking this chicken quarter recipe to a slightly higher temperature. Since proteins cook differently when smoked, this temperature will ensure juicy, easily shreddable chicken that practically falls off the bone.
- Rest the Smoked Chicken Quarters before serving. Fifteen to twenty minutes of resting allows the juices to be reabsorbed and keep your chicken delicious!
- Serve the smoked chicken with BBQ sauce and lots of sides! All the best barbecues are loaded up with all the fixin's! Some of our favorite serving suggestions can be found below.
What To Serve with BBQ Smoked Chicken
This Smoked Chicken Quarters recipe makes the perfect main course for all of your Summer shindigs. Here are our suggestions for our favorite sides and dessert to serve at your next barbecue:
- Barbecue Sauce - Finish this recipe with a thick swoosh of your favorite BBQ sauce. We use our Tangy Apricot BBQ Sauce and it's delish!
- Cornbread - Nothing says a top-notch cookout like a big slice of fresh-baked cornbread!
- Pasta Salad - This dish is an easy-to- make side that the whole family will devour. Check out our recipe for Halloumi Pasta Salad!
- Mac and Cheese - Cheesy pasta is always a cookout crowd pleaser!
- Potato Salad - This classic barbecue side dish is always a hit! Try our recipe for Fried Potato Salad with Bacon & Homemade Aioli.
- Grilled Veggies - While the smoked chicken rests, grill up some fresh Summer veggies for a healthy meal packed with seasonal flavor!
- Sweet Tooth? - Finish your BBQ with a dessert like Strawberry Lavender Shortcake, Peach Mango Pie, Apricot Tart or a cold scoop of Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream.
More Recipes for Your Summer BBQ!
Smoked Chicken Quarters (with Easy BBQ Rub)
Smoked Chicken Quarters
- 6 chicken leg quarters
- 1 recipe Brown Sugar Spice Rub
- Wood Smoking Chips as needed, We recommend using applewood or cherry wood.
Brown Sugar Spice Rub
- ¼ Cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ Tablespoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon fine kosher salt*
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
Smoked Chicken Quarters
- Gather, measure and prepare the Smoked Chicken Quarters ingredients as listed. To view metric measurements, toggle the US Customary/Metric switch at the top of this recipe card.
- Rub each chicken leg in Brown Sugar Spice Rub until coated on all sides. For the best results, refrigerate seasoned chicken quarters for 12 - 24 hours.
- Preheat smoker using wood smoking chips to 225° Fahrenheit (107° celsius) according to smoker manufacturer's instructions.
- Smoke chicken leg quarters for 2 - 3 hours or until the thickest part of the chicken leg reaches an internal temperature of 170° - 175° Fahrenheit (77° - 79° celsius) on an instant read thermometer. (See Note: a.)
- Allow the Smoked Chicken Quarters to rest for 15 - 20 minutes before serving. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce and sides! Enjoy!
Brown Sugar Spice Rub
- Gather, measure and prepare the Brown Sugar Spice Rub ingredients as listed.
- Combine all ingredients (brown sugar, chili powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dried oregano, mustard powder, salt and cayenne, if using). Use immediately or store in a cool dry place.
*Unless otherwise noted, foodworthfeed recipes are developed using Diamond Crystal brand kosher salt. If using iodized or table salt, reduce quantities by about half.