Deboned Chicken Thighs

Personally I love red chicken meat (the legs) over white (breast). One of my favourite recipes on the smoker is deboned chicken thighs. Sometimes I’ll carve up a whole chicken, order whole legs or just the thighs, depending on how many I want to make and how much preparation time I got. Because although they are not large pieces of meat, they do take some time to prep. This recipe is a (simplified) version of what I use for my #KCBS competition chicken.


So first of all you’ll have to debone the thighs. If you have bought the whole legs, you can keep the drumsticks for chicken lollipops! Here’s the way I debone a thigh:

  • cut the drumstick – wiggle it a little to find the perfect joint cut šŸ˜‰
  • remove the skin (we ‘ll reapply it later)
  • make a lateral cut through the meat on the backside of the bone
  • carve the meat gently from around it
  • carve the rest from theĀ spine

Depending on how much time you want to spend you can now trim unnecessary fat and tendons. For competition you would now square the meat to its final size but for personal use you don’t care about the extra meat and not having exact even pieces.


Brining your chicken will not only help with boosting some flavours, but will also add moist so you don’t end up with dried out chicken. The only thing worse than dried out chicken is undercooked chicken (which is an act of crime!). Here’s a simple poultry brine:

  • 1 gallon (3.5L) of water
  • 1 cup of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of white sugar
  • 1 TB Cayenne

I preheat the brine and let it cool down again so all salt & sugars are well dissolved. I let the meat brine for about 2 to 4 hours.

The skin, the horror …

Bite through or crispy? At the low temperatures that we will beĀ smoking, it’s almost impossible to get a crispy skin. And for a bite through skin you’ll need some extra prepping namely removing the fat from the inside. Not only is this a boring piece of work, you’ll need some skill to do it properly as well. See how much fat that comes off?


Preheat your smoker to 275-300F (135-150C), which is a little higher than for pork or beef. Now pat your thighs dry and apply a little dry rub before putting the skin back on. Try to square the thighs next to each other in a large aluminium/stainless steel pan and soak them halfway in liquid butter.

Put the pan on the smoker for about 2hrs.

The only thing worse than dried out chicken is undercooked chicken!


By that time, preheat some glaze (try not to put cold glaze on hot meat). Take the pan off and put all the pieces on a fine maze grill and start glazing. Put back on the smoker as fast as possible and glaze once more after 15 minutes. Keep the meat glazing for a total of about 30 minutes. DONE!

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