These Smoked Chicken Legs are perfect for summer! The chicken is coated with a homemade dry rub on the outside and then cooked in flavorful smoke until you have juicy, tender chicken on the inside. The crispy, crackly skin is full of fantastic flavor that will have everyone coming back for seconds. So fire up the smoker and enjoy some delicious smoked chicken legs!
One of the best ways to cook chicken legs is on the electric pellet smoker. This is a simple recipe that anyone can make.
I based this recipe on Smoked Pork Loin Roast. It has a fantastic dry rub that adds a unique flavor to the meat. After all, we love a sweet and savory rub with a bit of heat!
Looking for another easy chicken recipe? Try Air Fryer Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs.
More delicious dinners
Why you will love this recipe
Economical: Do you know what is fantastic about chicken legs? They are relatively inexpensive! I buy them when they go on sale, and I can feed my family without breaking the bank. Also, they are economical when having a group of friends over for a barbecue, and everyone loves them!
Juicy meat: Chicken legs are all dark meat that stays super moist and juicy at the end of the smoking process.
Scalable: This recipe is easily scalable, so you can make as many or as few smoked chicken drumsticks as you need.
Quick and Easy: This is another set it and forget it recipe. All that is required is 5 minutes of prep time, and the pellet smoker does the rest of the work.
Perfect party food: Everyone loves chicken legs! They are full of great smoky flavor and feed a lot of people!
Good source of protein: Chicken legs are a great source of protein, and they're low in fat.
You only need a few simple ingredients to make these delicious smoked chicken legs.
- Whole chicken legs (otherwise known as chicken drumsticks). If they are frozen, ensure that you defrost them first before smoking.
- Olive oil. The olive oil helps the dry rub stick to the chicken legs.
- Dry chicken rub. I use what I think is the best dry rub, and you can make it yourself using my Dry Rub for Chicken. It combines eight everyday ingredients (brown sugar, garlic powder, Roasted Garlic and Peppers seasoning, paprika, chili powder, seasoning salt, onion powder, and black pepper). This rub is sweet, savory, and spicy. The rub leaves a beautifully caramelized crusty and crispy skin. Of course, you can also use your favorite spice rub for chicken.
How to smoke chicken legs
Chicken legs are so easy to cook on the smoker. These are perfect for a weeknight dinner or on the weekend with your favorite summer side dishes.
First, preheat the smoker. Our smoker is the Pit Boss 8-in-1 grill and smoker. Set the temperature to 250 degrees F. Top it up with wood pellets. Our favorites are the Competition Blend and Hickory Blend.
Next, pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Apply olive oil to the chicken legs with a brush or your fingers. I like to place them on a sheet pan for ease of carrying them out to the grill. Parchment paper underneath makes cleanup a breeze. 😉
In a small bowl, mix up the ingredients for the homemade spice rub. Apply the rub liberally to the chicken. You can either place a couple of teaspoons on a plate and roll the chicken leg in the rub, or apply with a spoon or an electric salt and pepper grinder filled with the spice rub. Ensure it covers all parts of the chicken leg; top, bottom, and sides. Use your fingers to push the rub into the meat.
Once the smoker comes up to temperature, place drumsticks directly on the grill grate of the preheated grill. Feel free to add a little more rub. Next, put your thermometer probes into the thickest part of the drumstick, horizontally through each side into the thickest part of the meat. Make sure the tip of the probe is not touching the bone.
Close the lid and smoke until the internal temperature of the chicken legs is 175°F. This will take about 2 hours. If desired, brush with your favorite BBQ sauce the last few minutes of smoking.
If you want extra crispy chicken skin, turn up the smoker to a high temperature for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking time.
Remove the smoked chicken legs from the grill and place them on a serving tray. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to reincorporate into the meat. Serve along with your favorite side dishes.
HINT: Clean the smoker rack after cooking so it is clean and ready to use the next time.
Smoker: Our pellet grill is the Pit Boss smoker 8-1. It uses 100% wood pellets as fuel instead of gas and propane. There is nothing better than food cooked on the smoker; we love the smoke flavor!
High-quality temperature probe: This is a must-have item if you own a smoker. We use the ThermoPro Wireless Digital Cooking Food Meat Thermometer with Dual Probes; we love it!
You can make this chicken leg recipe with a variety of different flavors. Some fun ones to try are:
- Spicy: Add chili pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the sweet rub to add heat to the chicken legs.
- Saucy: Add your favorite barbecue sauce during the last few moments of smoking.
- Sweet: Add extra brown sugar to the spice rub for a sweeter taste.
- Less sweet: Reduce the sugar in the spice rub to make it less sweet.
- More seasoning: Feel free to add different spices to the dry rub to make it your own.
Fridge: Leftover chicken legs will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Freezer: Take the meat off the bone, and place it in a Ziploc bag. Place it in the freezer, where it will keep for up to 2 months. It's great for meal prep!
Tips & Tricks
- Anytime you smoke meat on the smoker, cook by temperature, not by time. We use a thermometer meat probe to keep a close watch on the temperature of the meat to ensure it is always cooked to the proper temperature. If the chicken sits on the smoker too long it will be dry and rubbery.
- Check and make sure your wood pellets are topped up before you begin. Then, check periodically while smoking to ensure you don't run out and top up if necessary.
- Make extras! The leftovers are nice to have, and you can use them for quick meals throughout the week.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
It takes about 2 hours at 250 degrees F to smoke drumsticks, or until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F.
Yes, you can. The chicken will end up dry and rubbery. However, if cooked until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F, the chicken will be juicy and tender.
Wood pellets that complement chicken are mesquite, cherry wood, and apple wood. Hickory is one of our favorites as it has a sweet taste that reminds me of bacon. The competition blend has a mixture of maple, cherry, and hickory.
What can I serve with Smoked Chicken Legs?
These smoked chicken legs go perfect with summer sides. Here are some of our favorites:
If you've tried Smoked Chicken Legs or any other recipe, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you liked it. I love hearing from you!
Simple Smoked Chicken Legs Recipe
- ThermPro Wireless Remote Digital Thermometer
- Electric Pellet Grill
- 2 pounds chicken legs
- 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoon Dry Rub for Chicken
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F. Make sure it is topped up with wood pellets.
- Drizzle the chicken legs on all sides with the olive oil.
- Apply the dry rub over the chicken legs and ensure it covers all parts; top, bottom, and sides.
- Once the smoker comes up to temperature, place the chicken legs directly on the preheated grill and put your thermometer probe in, horizontally through each side, into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone.
- Close the lid and smoke until the internal temperature of the chicken legs is 175°F. This will take about 2 hours.
- If you like BBQ sauce, apply your favorite sauce the last few minutes of cooking time.
- Remove the smoked chicken legs from the grill and place them on a serving tray. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes to allow the juices to reincorporate into the meat.