First Time Smoking Chicken (Legs)

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Its_Raw

Smoke Blower
Original poster
Nov 25, 2023
119
97
I am planning on smoking some chicken legs this weekend. I have read several threads on this forum and watched a number of videos. Appears the cook time hovers around 90-minutes or so. When grilling or cooking chicken on the stove, I go for an internal temperature of 175. Does 90-minutes seem about right at 225-250? How does the skin turn out? I am not a fan of chicken skin unless it is fried. Does the skin stay slimy or more like rotisserie? Can/should the skin be removed? Any and all tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
 
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You aren't going to like the skin cooked at low temps in the range you reference. When you prep the chicken make sure it's super dry , add a light sprinkle of baking powder to then before your rub. Let them sit overnight uncovered to dry. Smoke at a minimum of 275F. When almost done let it cruise up higher to crisp the skin. It would also help if you let us know what type smoker you are using.
 
I apologize, I have an Old Country Brazos.
No worries. I think the tips I gave above will help. Chicken with skin on just isn't a low and slow item in my opinion. I do mine starting at 275 for a bit and cruise to 300F. I think you are on the money pulling around 175ish. Drums, thighs and wings are much better at that temp as opposed to 165/F.
 
Agree with jcam222 jcam222 completely. At 225*, or even 250* cooking temps, the skin on chicken comes out rubbery and soft...not appetizing at all. Poultry doesn't need low and slow - cook 'em hot and fast. If you can get your smoker to 300 or higher, IMO that's not too high. And I doubt it would take 1.5 hrs at temps that high. My guess would be less than an hour.

My favorite way to cook chicken parts is in my Webber kettle charcoal grill around a vortex charcoal cone...now that will make some crispy skin!

Red
 
Agree with jcam222 jcam222 completely. At 225*, or even 250* cooking temps, the skin on chicken comes out rubbery and soft...not appetizing at all. Poultry doesn't need low and slow - cook 'em hot and fast. If you can get your smoker to 300 or higher, IMO that's not too high. And I doubt it would take 1.5 hrs at temps that high. My guess would be less than an hour.

My favorite way to cook chicken parts is in my Webber kettle charcoal grill around a vortex charcoal cone...now that will make some crispy skin!

Red

I second that, a Kettle with a Vortex is the way to cook chicken pieces.
 
I am planning on smoking some chicken legs this weekend. I have read several threads on this forum and watched a number of videos. Appears the cook time hovers around 90-minutes or so. When grilling or cooking chicken on the stove, I go for an internal temperature of 175. Does 90-minutes seem about right at 225-250? How does the skin turn out? I am not a fan of chicken skin unless it is fried. Does the skin stay slimy or more like rotisserie? Can/should the skin be removed? Any and all tips and suggestions are greatly appreciated!
I'm with jcam222 jcam222 on this.
There are a few smoking quirks when dealing with chicken and one of them concerns the skin (same situation with Turkey).
If you don't cook skin on chicken at a hot enough temp the skin will be leathery and rubbery.
I personally go 325F smoker temp for skin on chicken. This solves the problem BUT will be a fast cook on just legs.

Another decent approach I use is to smoke at a lower temp to where the chicken doesn't really cook too much and then throw on a screaming hot grill to get that skin to cooperate. Not fool proof but also an option. My preference is just to smoke at a high enough temp to begin with.

You ask if skin can be removed, YES!!!!
If this is an option then you don't have to worry about your smoker temp at all because there is no skin to fight with lol. You just smoke to your desired Internal Temp (IT) of the meat and boom done! Dark meat is good to go like this and will be juicy. White meat or whole chickens... that's a different story with a whole different set of quirks. I brine chicken breast and whole birds to deal with dryness and then 325F on them if skin is on it :D

I hope this info helps!
 
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Ok.... I think I get it 100%. Legs took 90-minutes to cook, which was not the issue. The issue is they were rubbery, the texture deeper in the meat was off-putting, and the smoke was bitter. The fire burned clean and I did not expect any kind of odd taste, but it was there. I do not even think having the skin on would have saved these... I might try some skin-on thighs down the road, but it was unanimous, we all would have preferred to have them cooked on the gas grill.
 
Ok.... I think I get it 100%. Legs took 90-minutes to cook, which was not the issue. The issue is they were rubbery, the texture deeper in the meat was off-putting, and the smoke was bitter. The fire burned clean and I did not expect any kind of odd taste, but it was there. I do not even think having the skin on would have saved these... I might try some skin-on thighs down the road, but it was unanimous, we all would have preferred to have them cooked on the gas grill.
That sucks that they came out poorly.
Just a question here. You mention the fire burned clean but was there any time you were producing heavy or thick smoke that is white?
If not I'm wondering if it was just too much smoke at 90 minutes with your stick burner.

I mean stick burner grilling them might give you the best of both worlds. Some smoke flavor and grilled flavor/texture without having them on for nearly as long.

Anyhow, nothing wrong with grilled legs. I had really good grilled drums this weekend :D
 
No sustained periods of white or heavy smoke. If there was any unclean smoke, I opened the lid and made sure it escaped as more wood was added - but this was rare.

I ate a couple more legs the next day for lunch. It wasn’t that the smoke flavor was bad, it was just too much of it. The texture was off, like I was trying to make it into jerky, and I also had way too much pepper on them as well. Just over all a not-so-good result.
 
As you have seen there really is no foolproof way. Me I fire up my Webber 22" throw a couple chunks of apple wood on the coals, and I'm done.

Warren
 
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No sustained periods of white or heavy smoke. If there was any unclean smoke, I opened the lid and made sure it escaped as more wood was added - but this was rare.

I ate a couple more legs the next day for lunch. It wasn’t that the smoke flavor was bad, it was just too much of it. The texture was off, like I was trying to make it into jerky, and I also had way too much pepper on them as well. Just over all a not-so-good result.
Ah, it seems everything just went too long. Mystery solved!
Well chicken is the least expensive to experiment with and if you have some dogs they may love some chicken leg jerky :D
 
IMO poultry needs only a kiss of smoke. Think wood fired grill. I did gasser + tube like schlotz schlotz said a long time and is much better than the smoker. I eventually caved on a pellet grill. Below is dry brined a few days, 350F until 160F white/180F0 dark (nothing exact), done in like an hour . For legs you MUST try run the Cornell recipe. OG recipe says to baste but this is how I would run them. Steve H Steve H .
https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/honey-make-some-fireman-chicken-this-weekend.322535/

20230716_192037_resized(2).jpg
 
Never been a fan of smoked chicken unless you can get the skin nice and crispy which is hard to do when using a electric smoker. Most times it comes out like rubber boots.
 
Yup, like zwiller zwiller said, poultry takes on smoke very fast and it only needs a kiss of it. I have two outdoor tools, a smoker and a grill. There are bunches of recipes for each but when it comes to chicken it's strictly the grill and I'll add a smoker tube on occasion. For me, it comes down to the right tool for the task.
 
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