Best Wood For Smoking Chicken Thighs

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The best wood for smoking chicken thighs depends on your taste but we love apple, maple, cherry, and hickory. These types of wood work great at home or barbecuing with friends. Furthermore, smoke at 275 to achieve crispy skin chicken legs, quarters, or wings.

In addition to chicken breast, chicken thighs are also rich in lean protein. Thighs cook up quite moist and tender all the time, with their slightly increased fat content.

Many markets sell skinless and boneless chicken thighs, which cook quickly in grills and sauté pans. They're perfect for braising and roasting, making them ideal for feeding a large crowd.

Best Wood For Smoking Chicken Thighs

Why Wood Choice Matters

As an avid barbecue lover, you understand the importance of wood in smoking your meat. The heat source eventually depends on the type of smoker you use, but wood is always the primary source of heat. Different parts of chicken have different compositions, fat content, and meat density. As a result, the wood type that complements them will differ from cut to cut.

Grilling chicken is only possible with the right wood chips. It enhances the taste of your chicken thighs. Some people prefer wood from trees of sweet fruits, while others swing in a different direction. In this guide, I will show you which woods make the best smoke for chicken thighs.

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Best Wood for Smoking Chicken Thighs

Let me tell you up front that your choice will change as you go along. I think it’s best to try all the woods separately or in combination for the best result. You can expect 3-4 tries before you find a wood that suits your chicken thighs. But without further ado, here are the best woods for roasting chicken thighs:

  • Maplewood

Maplewood is often compared to hickory because of its sweetness and capacity to burn at a slower pace compared to other heavy woods. It is perfect for smoking chicken because of its flavor, which is sweeter and not as heavy as applewood and cherry.

It helps in adding a sweet and lightweight aroma to your chicken. The wood doesn’t overpower the natural flavors and taste of your chicken at all.

  • Pecan

If you’re into richer smoked meats, then pecan might be the one for you. We are all aware of its excellent pairing with turkey; however, I have personally used it on my smoked chicken outcome is exceptionally delicious.

Pecan smoked chicken thighs were the star of a barbecue party I once held. They go exceptionally well with a cold beer, alongside some tomato relish.


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  • Applewood

Applewood is undoubtedly one of the most common wood chip types for cooking smoked chicken thighs. This wood is well-sought because of its fruity and subtly sweet flavors. It differs from other fruit-based wood types like pecan, cherry, and maple with its mellower taste.

However, its subtle taste may be too delicate for some pitmasters interested in tasting something more substantial. You might want to try out the excellent chicken BBQ rub recipe if you’re using this wood.

  • Hickory

When it comes to smoking woods for BBQ, Hickory is one of the OGs. Its nutty flavor makes it the perfect wood for people who don't like a lot of sweetness. Hickory can be found just about anywhere and is perfect for beginners. Yes, it is not as hard as other wood types, such as mesquite.

But if you use it too much, it will overpower your chicken thighs. You'll end up with a thick layer of bitter smoke on your thighs, and that's a total no-no. The last thing you want is to poison your guests. Start with 1-2 chunks of the wood and go from there if there is a lack of flavor. You can always continue with more in the future.

  • Cherrywood

Cherrywood obtains the same amount of sweetness as the other fruity wood types on the list. However, one feature separates it from the rest: its ability to color your chicken thighs. After a few hours of cooking over cherrywood, your chicken all end up with a pretty deep red finishing.

This wood is super delicious when you combine it with a deeper and richer hardwood type. I recommend you mix it with some hickory to add a touch of extra smokiness to your chicken thighs. Whenever I work with cherrywood and chicken, I feel like I am plating a professional five-star restaurant entrée.

  • Peach

Peach is all about bringing the old Southern to life again. This wood features a beautiful fruity and light taste, which gives your chicken thighs a strong Southern tang. Peach tends to burn for more extended periods and is quite hot compared to other woods. But if you’re planning to use this wood, then make sure to utilize it when it is fresh. Why? Well, because after some time, the flavor tends to fade away, giving you a bland taste quickly.

The above information is essential for choosing the right wood. Furthermore, such a choice depends on one's taste and experiences. Also, remember that the flavors tend to vary with different meats and cuts. The majority of these woods work just fine for chicken can also combine and try them for your pork recipe.

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