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Confused about smoked chicken leg quarters

Discussion in 'Poultry' started by ssmoke, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    I want to smoke chicken leg quarters for the first time but am actually confused due to all the information on this forum =)

    So from what I gather:

    1) I should definitely brine, which I like to do anyway, and the slaughter house brine from the wiki sounds really good

    2) I should smoke somewhere between 250 and 300, but then I will want to finish a grill for 10-15 minutes to crisp the skin


    3) Smoke above 300 (generally listed as 325 by most commenters) will crisp the skin so then I wouldn't have to finish on the grill

    4) I want to smoke until the center of the leg is at 170

    Am I missing anything?

    What are peoples experience with smoking at say 250/275 & grill vs 325 and no grill? I really would like the skin crispy at the end.

    And finally, what about of time smoking should I expect using the two different temperature ranges?
  2. bkleinsmid

    bkleinsmid Smoking Fanatic

    ssmoke..........I love smoked leg 1/4's. I think you have all the info right.....thats pretty much how I do mine.

    I like to do mine at 300 to 325 just so I don't have to mess with the grill after the smoke.

  3. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    so you get crispy skin that range? About how long does it take usually?
  4. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I cook my chicken raised direct on the Egg - in the 325 range because for me there is nothing worse then rubbery chicken skin.. I get the smoke flavor I want, and the skin texture I like. Time.. about an hour or so maybe,
  5. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    thanks! I will try this way and hopefully get nice crispy skin.

    What type of wood do you all use? Most comments I saw indicated apple
  6. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    One more question if people are still checking this thread... I have been reading more about it and several people indicated they didn't use any water in the pan when smoking at the higher (300+) temps. Is this something I should consider or is water in the pan still needed?
  7. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    The water pan helps moderate temps cause water boils at 212.  At least at sea level?

    Chix on the smoker is tricky because of the rubber skin problem.

    Usually smoked at high temps or finished with a flash on a hot grill?  The water pan can get in the way of hot smoking temps. Then the grill comes in handy.

    I usually grill mine, but it works either way with some practice.

    Having said that, the whole leg is a great piece to work with.

    Good luck and good smoking.
  8. ssmoke

    ssmoke Newbie

    I have a weber 22 inch smoker. I think I am now convinced of the no-water way, but should I still keep the pan there right to catch drips? Otherwise seems like quite a bit of ash would come up onto the meat and also generally mess with the stability of the fire.
  9. ellymae

    ellymae Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Not sure when you are cooking your chicken - no real reason to put anything in between the coals and your chicken -

    With Chicken I am all over the place when it comes to wood - I like cherry, oak, apple, and hickory - chicken will take on smoke pretty fast so be careful, you want the smoke thin and blue so your chicken doesn't taste like an ash tray.
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    If it were me I'd fill the water pan with sand, cover with foil and not look back. If you smoke in any type of windy wet cold weather this will help greatly with the temp swings.

    For chicken I smoke mine in a 325* smoker to get the crispy skin. I do not brine my chicken, I do inject quarters sometimes just for a different flavor profile. Apple is fine for chicken however my current favorite is a 50/50 mix of pecan and cherry.

    For your IT you want to probe the thigh not the leg and need to go to 165*
  11. hambone1950

    hambone1950 Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I smoke on a WSM and my experience has been if you put water or sand in the pan , you won't get up to 300 degrees. When I do chicken , I go no water pan at all. Chicken on the top rack. Hits 300 easy and crisps up the skin nicely....sometimes I drop the chicken onto the lower rack at the end , just to make sure it's nice and crisp. Not sure what you are cooking on ,, it i hope this is helpful

    Ok , I just read a bit more and it seems you have a 22 inch WSM , right? Ok def no water pan...trust me....no issues with ash from drippings or temp swings.that chicken juice hits the coals and turns into nice flavorful smoke....and it does not damp the fire....quite the opposite.
    cook on the top rack. Don't worry be happy. . :grilling_smilie:
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  12. I agree, dirtsailor. Temp the thigh (always temp the thickest part of any meat you're cooking).

    I am probably wrong, but 165 is what I pull mine at IF I've cooked them low and plan on putting them under the broiler. I thought dark meat had to go higher (170-175 finished temp)?
  13. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I think it is a matter of taste?

    For a chicken breast, I like 165 because the breast dries out so easily.

    For a thigh, I like 175 because the fattier thigh will have the texture I like at that temp.

    The whole leg is a great piece to work with because if the drum gets a little more cooking than the thigh?  Being connected, it doesn't seem to be a problem to my taster.

    Good luck and good smoking.
    asfastasitgets likes this.
  14. They're perfectly done when the skin draws back from the ankle. <--don't try this at home!!! Unless...you've cooked for most of your life. Otherwise, use a temperature measuring device, and aim for 170-175, in the thigh (away from the bone!!!). lol
  15. bigr314

    bigr314 Meat Mopper

    I smoke my chicken at 300-325 on a UDS. Direct heat with no water pan. Plenty of smoke,plus the drippings on the coals add more smoke and flavor.Comes out fantastic.
  16. brother ed

    brother ed Newbie

    Wrap your water soaked chips in foil and poke holes in top to allow smoke to escape. Ash remains in the foil.
  17. edward36

    edward36 Meat Mopper


    I'll give you a bit different view at this... I smoke chicken quarters (that is, leg & thigh) on my WSM 22.5" without brining, on 250F, until internal temperature of 165F, and during the last 15 minutes I glaze them with an apricot glaze: 1/2 cup your favorite BBQ sauce (I make my own - check out my post here), 4 tbsp honey, 4 tbsp apricot jam. Here's the result.

  18. I absolutely agree with this method.  I do not brine my chicken quarters or thighs due to the short cooking time and they come out just as moist as brined grilled chicken breasts.  Glazing takes chicken to a whole different level!  Good lookin chicken here!
    edward36 likes this.
  19. edward36

    edward36 Meat Mopper


    Which reminds me to go get some chicken quarters for the weekend :)

  20. I smoke my chicken legs for 4=6 hours and my ribs till the meat fills off the bone.