“Hey, is that the next master smoker I see there? I think it is…
Welcome to my guide on how long to smoke chicken quarters. Smoking chicken quarters can be intimidating, but if you follow the right steps and use the right tools, you’ll be smoking like a pro in no time!
In this step-by-step guide, I’ll cover:
The pros and cons of different types of smokers
What type of wood chips or pellets to choose for the best flavor
How temperature affects cook times
Tips for keeping your smoker going all day long
A breakdown of how long each part should be smoked
And some yummy recipes to try out once your bird is cooked up!
Ready? Let’s get smokin’!
Understanding Chicken Quarters
Chicken leg quarters are a popular choice for many food enthusiasts, especially those who love barbecuing or smoking meat.
A chicken leg quarter is essentially a whole chicken leg, with a portion of the back attached.
This cut of meat is incredibly tasty thanks to the perfect balance of bone, skin, and meat.
The skin crisps up beautifully when baked, providing a flavorful crust that encases the juicy meat underneath.
Also, it is a much more economical option compared to other cuts of chicken.
Choosing the Perfect Chicken Quarters
When it comes to smoking chicken quarters, freshness matters.
You have several options available when purchasing chicken.
Some folks prefer buying from their local butcher or supermarket, while others opt to order online.
Online marketplaces like Crowd Cow, Thrive Market, Cooks Venture, and FreshDirect have reputations for delivering fresh, quality poultry.
Other reliable options include D’Artagnan, Rastelli’s, Butcher Box, FarmFoods, Harry & David Fine Meats, and Omaha Steaks.
Besides providing fresh chicken, these platforms also offer options like organic, free-range, and pasture-raised chicken, so you can choose according to your preference.
Should You Brine Chicken Before Smoking?
Brining is a fantastic way to amplify the flavor and juiciness of your chicken quarters.
In essence, brining involves soaking the chicken in a solution of salt and water, allowing the meat to absorb extra moisture.
This not only enhances the taste but also helps keep your chicken juicy and tender during the smoking process.
How to Brine Chicken Quarters
Making a brine is easy.
A common ratio is 4 quarts of hot water to 1 cup of kosher salt.
To this, you can add other flavors like sugar, spices, or herbs.
Once your brine is ready, immerse your chicken quarters in it for a minimum of 30 minutes to 3-4 hours.
If you prefer dry brining, use about half a teaspoon of salt per pound of chicken.
Recipe Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Quarters
Now, let’s talk about the seasoning.
Besides salt, your chicken quarters can be seasoned with a rub before being slow-smoked.
Some of the key ingredients for a flavorful rub include smoked paprika, thyme, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.
You can also experiment with turbinado sugar, roasted red pepper, ground mustard seed, and even ground coffee for a unique flavor profile.
Setting Up Your Smoker
Preparing The Smoker
Once your chicken is seasoned, it’s time to fire up the smoker.
You would want to preheat your smoker to about 250℉ (121℃).
If you’re using a charcoal smoker, make sure your coals are white-hot before adding your chicken.
For gas or electric smokers, preheating typically takes about 15-20 minutes.
Which Smoker Is Best?
The type of smoker you use can significantly affect the flavor of your chicken.
While any smoker can get the job done, popular options like the Smokey Mountain Cooker Smoker by Weber or the Woodwind WIFI by Camp Chef are loved for their consistent temperature control and ease of use.
Choosing the Right Flavors
Use a Good BBQ Rub
The BBQ rub will essentially define the flavor of your smoked chicken quarters.
As mentioned earlier, elements like smoked paprika, thyme, and chili powder can create a delightful taste.
However, feel free to experiment and even create your own BBQ rub recipe.
The key is to ensure that the rub complements the natural flavor of the chicken and does not overpower it.
What Wood is Best for Smoked Chicken Quarters?
The type of wood you use for smoking can also make a significant difference in flavor.
Fruitwoods like apple or cherry are excellent choices for chicken due to their mild, sweet smoke.
Hickory or mesquite can also be used for a stronger, more robust flavor.
The Smoking Process
How to Smoke Chicken Leg Quarters
Place your brined and seasoned chicken quarters on the smoker, skin side up.
Make sure they are evenly spaced to allow for good smoke circulation.
Close the lid and let the smoking begin!
How Long to Smoke Chicken Quarters
Patience is key when smoking chicken quarters.
On average, it takes about 2 to 2.5 hours for chicken quarters to smoke at 250℉.
However, remember that the exact time can vary based on the size of the chicken quarters and the exact temperature of the smoker.
Tips and Tricks for Smoking Chicken Quarters
A handy tip while smoking chicken quarters is to maintain a consistent temperature.
Also, resist the temptation to frequently open the smoker to check the chicken – each time you do, you lose heat and smoke, which can extend the cooking time.
Checking the Chicken’s Doneness
Internal Temperature for Chicken Quarters
To ensure that your chicken quarters are cooked to perfection, aim for an internal temperature of 175°F.
This ensures that the chicken is thoroughly cooked, without being overly dry or tough.
How to Check Internal Temp of Chicken Pieces
The most reliable way to check the internal temperature is by using a meat thermometer.
Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, ensuring that it doesn’t touch the bone.
If the thermometer reads 175°F, your chicken is done.
Serving Smoked Chicken Quarters
Serving Suggestions for Smoked Chicken Quarters
Smoked chicken quarters can be served as a main course paired with sides like coleslaw, roasted vegetables, or a simple salad.
You can also shred the meat and use it in sandwiches, wraps, or tacos.
Dips for Your Smoked Chicken
While the smoked chicken quarters are flavorful on their own, serving them with a dip can add an extra layer of flavor.
Some popular options include BBQ sauce, honey mustard sauce, or a spicy salsa.
Storing and Reheating Smoked Chicken Quarters
Storing Instructions for Smoked Chicken Quarters
Leftover smoked chicken quarters can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
For longer storage, you can freeze the chicken in freezer-safe bags for up to 3 months.
Experts recommend using a water pan in your smoker to maintain the moisture levels during cooking.
Also, avoid smoking in windy conditions as it can lead to uneven cooking.
More Smoking Recipes
Once you’ve perfected smoking chicken quarters, why not try other smoking recipes? Smoked salmon, smoked brisket, and smoked ribs are popular favorites among BBQ enthusiasts.
Bonus: Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions for Smoked Chicken Quarters
1. Brine your chicken quarters.
2. Rinse and pat dry, then apply your favorite BBQ rub.
3. Preheat your smoker to 250℉.
4. Place chicken quarters on the smoker, skin side up.
5. Smoke for 2-2.5 hours, maintaining a consistent temperature.
6. Check for an internal temperature of 175°F.
7. Rest, serve, and enjoy!
How do you prepare smoked chicken quarters?
To prepare smoked chicken quarters, start by rinsing and patting dry the chicken legs. Next, apply a BBQ rub made of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, and salt to all sides of each quarter. Place the chicken quarters on the smoker at 275°F for 3-4 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Allow the cooked chicken to rest for 15 minutes before enjoying!
What is dark meat?
Dark meat refers to poultry cuts that have more fat than light meat (breast) due to their location in or around the thigh area. Dark meat is also known as leg quarters and includes both drumsticks and thighs with skin attached. These darker meats are typically juicier than white meat which makes them especially ideal for smoking.
How long should I smoke my chicken leg quarters?
Smoked chicken leg quarters should be smoked in your smoker at 275°F for 3-4 hours or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F. For a lighter smoke flavor, keep an eye on how much wood you are using; you don’t want it too heavy as this will cause a bitter taste in finished product.
What ingredients do I need to make a BBQ rub for smoking my chicken leg quarters?
Making a BBQ rub for smoking your chicken leg quarters requires smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, sugar, and salt. This combination creates a flavorful crust that helps seal in moisture while adding depth of flavor throughout the cooking process. Be sure to adjust amounts depending on preference or desired coloration – required fields are marked!
How do you ensure crispy skin on smoked chicken quarters?
To ensure crispy skin on smoked chicken quarters, use wood chips and a dry rub that includes brown sugar. Make sure to use enough of the dry rub to cover all sides of the chicken quarter and allow it to sit for at least an hour before smoking. Avoid putting BBQ sauce directly on the skin as this can make it soggy.
What is the best way to smoke chicken pieces?
The best way to smoke chicken pieces is by first coating them with olive oil and a seasoning mix such as a dry rub or marinade. Place each piece separately onto the smoker rack and cook it until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once cooked, brush each piece with your favorite BBQ sauce before serving.
Do different types of chicken require different cooking times?
Yes, different types of chicken require different cooking times. For example, whole chickens take longer than leg quarters while bone-in thighs take longer than boneless breasts. Additionally, larger cuts such as turkey legs also need more time than smaller pieces like wings or tenders. Make sure to check the internal temperature regularly when grilling or smoking any type of poultry for optimal results.
How many nutrition calories does a typical smoked leg quarter have?
A typical smoked leg quarter has about 590 calories per serving according to USDA estimates, making it lower in calories than some other popular grilled or smoked recipes such as fried chicken (750 calories). However, depending on ingredients used in the recipe such as oil and seasonings, caloric content may vary greatly from one smoker recipe to another so be sure to check nutritional facts whenever available!