A must-have for any cookout or barbecue, these delicious smoked chicken legs are juicy, tender, and packed with flavor. The drumsticks are smothered in a simple dry rub then smoked to perfection and finished off in the oven for the crispiest chicken skin possible. This method is so easy and foolproof, it’s great recipe for anyone new to grilling or smoking.
🍗 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- Smoking chicken legs will give you the most flavorful and juicy chicken! Seasoned with spices, then cooked low and slow, the smoked flavor isn’t overwhelming, it’s simply just perfect. Quickly finished in the oven to crisp up the skin.
- It’s seriously super easy to make! And very affordable. Chicken drumsticks are not very expensive for how delicious they are. And the simple, but very tasty dry rub is full of delicious spices you most likely already have in your pantry, including smoked paprika, garlic and onion powders.
- They’re perfect for any summer cookouts and barbecues! You can fit a lot of drumsticks on your smoker, and I guarantee you that everyone will absolutely love them! Smoking chicken legs is very straight forward, and you don’t have to worry about a cooking stall at all, they’ll be ready before the 2 hour mark.
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- The cooking time when smoking chicken legs can greatly vary by different factors. First the size of the drumsticks, you can find tiny ones, regular medium and huge too. Then your smoker; every smoker is different, and the smoking process can be quicker or slower depending on the model. Finally the weather; the outside temperature, wind can sometimes alter the smoker set temperature and slow down the cooking process. Therefore, while a good rule of thumb is between 1 1/2 to 2 hours of smoking at 275℉, the only way to be sure the chicken is well cooked, is by using an meat thermometer. While chicken is safe once 165℉ is reached, drumsticks are fattier than breasts and are very forgiving, and won’t easily dry out. So if the temperature goes into the 170’s, it’s totally fine, even better in my opinion, as you don’t want to bite into an undercooked chicken drumstick.
- While technically you don’t need to finish them in the oven, I highly recommend broiling them quickly for a few minutes after the smoking process. It’ll really crisp up that skin to perfection. If you prefer, you can also quickly sear them on your grill set at a high temperature.
- We’re keeping this recipe simple, using only a dry rub, but if you wanted to finish your chicken legs with some barbecue sauce, go for it. Just add the sauce after they’re already cooked.
- The rest time is non-negotiable for this recipe! The smoked chicken legs will only need 5 to 10 minutes, but it’s crucial to let all those juices lock in, to ensure they’re super moist and juicy.
🐓 More Delicious Chicken Recipes
- Perfect Pan Seared Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Milanese
- Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
- Chicken Spiedini
- Chicken Almondine
For the Dry Rub
For the Chicken Legs
- 12 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks approximately 4 ½ to 5 pounds
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or other neutral-flavored oil
- smoker filled with pellets
- small mixing bowl
- small whisk or spoon
- Cutting board
- Paper towels
- Basting Brush or clean paper towels
- internal meat thermometer
- large baking sheet
- Preheat smoker to 275° Fahrenheit.
- Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, and ½ teaspoon chili powder to small bowl. Stir until spices are well-blended. Set bowl aside.
- Place 12 medium bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks on cutting board. Pat each drumstick completely dry on all sides with paper towels.
- Use basting brush (or clean paper towel) to brush olive oil on all sides of each drumstick, covering each drumstick completely. Return drumsticks to cutting board.
- Sprinkle spice mixture over drumsticks, coating all sides of each drumstick fully. Gently massage spice mixture into skin of drumsticks with hands, being careful not to tear skins. Mix together additional spice rub as needed depending on size of chicken legs.
- When all drumsticks have been seasoned fully, transfer drumsticks to preheated smoker. Place chicken legs directly onto smoker grate and close lid.
- Smoke chicken legs 1 hour 15 minutes, then begin checking internal temperature of chicken legs. Continue smoking drumsticks until internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit according to internal meat thermometer.
- When chicken reaches desired internal temperature, preheat broiler to low. Position oven rack so that baking sheet sits approximately 10 inches beneath broiler.
- Carefully transfer chicken legs to large baking sheet, making sure to place chicken legs in one even layer without stacking or overlapping. Note: for even crispier skins, fit baking sheet with wire rack first, then place drumsticks on wire rack.
- Place baking sheet beneath preheated broiler. Broil drumsticks 4 to 5 minutes or until skins have crisped, then carefully remove baking sheet from oven and set aside.
- Allow chicken to rest until internal temperature reaches 170° Fahrenheit, no more than 10 minutes. Serve chicken legs warm with desired sides.
- Cook times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the drumsticks you use. I highly recommend relying on internal temperature rather than cook times to ensure the chicken legs aren’t under- or over-cooked.
- Make it Keto: Use Brown Swerve instead of brown sugar.
- Make it Paleo: Replace the brown sugar with coconut sugar.
- Make it Whole30: Omit the sweetener entirely.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.