Smoked Chicken Leg & Thigh Quarters Recipe

Smoked chicken leg and thigh quarters with herbs and vegetables on a white plate.

You’ve got to try this simple smoked chicken quarters recipe from John McLemore.

You’ll love how this slow smoking method gives the chicken a great flavor.

Why this recipe works

Brining the chicken quarters then smoking in your Masterbuilt Electric Smoker or other smoker makes for a perfect chicken quarters recipe.

(Not sure what type of smoker grill you should cook this on? Check out my The Best Smoker Grill Guide!)

It’s also a terrific way to learn how to brine and smoke before you try it on a big turkey during the holidays.

Try this with your favorite barbecue sauce and side dishes like Best Instant Pot Baked Beans or Crock-Pot Baked Beans for family dinners.

Smoked chicken quarters on a cutting board with a fork and knife with roasted vegetables.

Ingredients

water

molasses – if you don’t have any, you can use brown sugar or maple syrup

kosher salt

soy sauce – use tamari sauce instead of soy sauce if you’re gluten free

Worcestershire sauce

freshly grated and peeled ginger root

garlic powder

ice water – using cold water helps cool down the brine quickly

chicken quarters

extra virgin olive oil – brushing on the chicken quarters gives them a nice crispy skin during smoking

wood pellets or chips – I recommend making this smoked chicken recipe with apple pellets or wood chips. Another option is cherry wood chips or pellets.

Equipment needed

How to make smoked chicken quarters

Making the brine solution

  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine 2 cups water, molasses, and salt. Bring to a boil until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, and garlic powder.
  3. Set aside and let cool.
  4. When the mixture is cooled, stir in 2 gallons of ice water, mixing well. Place each chicken quarter in a brining bag, oversized plastic bag, or large stockpot.
  5. Pour brining mixture over each chicken quarter and place in a bowl. Refrigerate, turning once, for 6 to 8 hours.

Smoking the chicken quarters

  1. Preheat smoker to 225°F.
  2. Remove chicken from brine after at least 6 hours, and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining salt.
  3. Pat dry with paper towels. Then brush with olive oil.
  4. Place chicken on the middle rack of the smoker. Smoke for up to 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the leg.
  5. Remove the meat from the smoker and enjoy with your favorite BBQ sauce!

Smoked chicken leg quarters with a sprig of thyme on a white plate.

FAQ

Here are some tips to make your smoked chicken quarters turn out perfectly!

What is a chicken quarter?

The leg quarter is made up of the thigh, drumstick, and part of the back of the chicken.

It's named a quarter because it consists of about a quarter of the entire chicken.

It makes an excellent main course and should fill you up along with a side dish or salad.

How long do you smoke chicken quarters at 225 degrees F?

At 225 degrees Fahrenheit, you should smoke your chicken quarters for about 2.5 to 3 hours. You can use higher temperatures, but you may dry out the chicken.

What is the best wood for smoking chicken?

Choose the type of wood chips or pellets that complement the bird. Apple, pecan, mesquite, and cherry are all popular flavors.

Can I use this brine mixture for another smoked chicken recipe?

Sure! If you want to brine chicken breasts, chicken legs, or whole chicken, this recipe smokes up some yummy, juicy chicken!

The only thing you need to make sure is to have enough brine to cover the chicken pieces. So double the recipe if needed.

More smoked grilling recipes

Had fun making this chicken leg quarters recipe? Then try these smoked grilling recipes:

Smoked Meatloaf Recipe

Smoked Beer Can Chicken Recipe

How to prepare & cook a spatchcock or butterflied turkey

How to make a smoked turkey breast brine

Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe with Smoked Turkey Rub

How to Make Smoked Trout

What's your favorite smoking or grilling recipe?

More recipes from John McLemore

Along with this recipe, John McLemore’s book, DADGUM That’s Good, Too! is a valuable addition to any barbecuing cookbook collection.

John’s mission is to make it fun to cook up traditional Southern recipes like brisket, baby back ribs, and Boston butt using Masterbuilt electric smokers, grills, and indoor fryers.

John’s barbecue recipes are simple, straightforward and perfect for those new to smoking, grilling, and deep frying.

If you’re looking for a better for you take on smoking and grilling, John wrote Dadgum That's Good. . . and Healthy!: Lightened-up Favorites for Smoking, Frying and Grilling! that also has rave reviews.

Yield: 4 SERVINGS

Smoked Chicken Leg & Thigh Quarters Recipe

Smoked chicken quarters on a cutting board with a fork and knife with roasted vegetables.

Want to know how to smoke chicken quarters? It’s easy to make this smoked chicken quarters recipe.

Prep Time 1 hour
Additional Time 8 hours
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 12 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups molasses
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated and peeled ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 gallons ice water
  • 4 chicken quarters
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Suggested wood: apple, cherry, pecan, and mesquite

Instructions

Making the brine solution

  1. In a large stockpot over medium heat, combine 2 cups water, molasses, and salt. Bring to a boil until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, and garlic powder.
  3. Set aside and let cool.
  4. When the mixture is cooled, stir in 2 gallons of ice water, mixing well. Place each chicken quarter in a brining bag, oversized plastic bag, or large stockpot.
  5. Pour brining mixture over each chicken quarter and place in a bowl. Refrigerate, turning once, for 6 to 8 hours.

Smoking the chicken quarters

  1. Preheat smoker to 225°F.
  2. Remove chicken from brine after at least 6 hours, and rinse thoroughly to remove any remaining salt.
  3. Pat dry with paper towels. Then brush with olive oil.
  4. Place chicken on the middle rack of the smoker. Smoke for up to 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the leg.
  5. Remove the meat from the smoker and enjoy with your favorite BBQ sauce!

Recommended Products

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1 chicken quarter

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 782Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 80mgSodium: 31646mgCarbohydrates: 136gFiber: 1gSugar: 132gProtein: 22g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Recipe and pictures courtesy of John McLemore and Masterbuilt.

Originally published on October 9, 2012. Updated with new pictures and information.

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Recipe rating: 5 4 3 2 1