Smoked and Fried Buttermilk Chicken Thighs

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What could be better than fried chicken? SMOKED That’s what I’m talking about: fried chicken that’s been bathed in buttermilk first.

The overnight buttermilk brine does its magic on the chicken thighs here with a little prep, resulting in smoky, juicy, moist, crispy, and undoubtedly tasty smoked and fried chicken.

What you’ll need

Smoked and Fried Buttermilk Chicken Thighs

For this recipe, youll need:

  • A smoker or grill capable of low and slow
  • Fruit wood pieces (peach goes well with chicken)
  • A couple of large plastic bowls
  • Your preferred chicken rub (Normally, I make my own rub, but I was short of certain crucial components, so I purchased Lanes Signature rub this time.)
  • A temperature-controlled deep fryer or technique of deep frying

If you enjoy the sound of this method, you should also try smoke fried chicken wings.

So why brine chicken?

Brining your chicken is essential if you want juicy, tender poultry.

I don’t advocate using a traditional salt-based liquid brine for this since I use salt in the rub as well as the flour dredging while frying.

Instead, use buttermilk.

The acidity of buttermilk really opens up and fractures the cell walls in the chicken, making it soft and juicy while also helping to preserve moisture in the protein.

This is particularly useful with lean portions of meat like chicken breast, which may quickly dry up, and will provide the same results as a soft, juicy thigh.

Preparing your buttermilk brine

You’ll need enough buttermilk to cover the chicken in a big plastic bowl for the buttermilk brine. For 8 thighs, I used 2 cups buttermilk.

Fill a large plastic bowl halfway with buttermilk, then add the other brine ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp of black pepper

It is critical to use a plastic dish since the acid in the buttermilk might react with metals, causing your chicken to taste metallic.

Add your chicken thighs (you may use any cut of chicken legs and wings, as well as tenderloins), and make sure the buttermilk fully covers the chicken pieces.

Cover with cling wrap, and place into the fridge.

Keep your thighs in the buttermilk brine overnight (the chicken ones or things get very messy! ), but at least 4-5 hours for the best results.

Setup your smoker

For these thighs, use indirect heat on your grill or a smoker.

We were just partially cooking them on the smoker to provide some smoky flavor, and chicken is a light meat, so avoid using heavier wood tastes like hickory.

Fruit woods provide a nice mild, sweet smoke for the chicken; I like peach wood, but explore a little to find a taste you enjoy.

Set your smoker to roughly 230-260F; we’ll finish them in a fryer, so we only want to infuse them with flavor.

Prepare your chicken pieces

Remove the chicken from the fridge and wipe off any excess buttermilk.

Place a wire rack over an oven tray and place the chicken pieces on it to apply the rub.

Apply a large quantity of your preferred chicken rub (I used Lanes Signature rub for this) but don’t overdo it.

Because the leftover buttermilk brine will work as a binder, apply the massage directly to the thighs.

Smoke your thighs

Keep a watch on your thigh pieces since they will only require 45 minutes or so to take on some color and taste.

You may remove them below the acceptable food temperature of 165F for chicken since we will be completing them in the fryer, so you can remove them as soon as you are satisfied with the color, but try not to let them slide far beyond 135-140F.

Don’t worry if you go a bit over; the buttermilk and additional fat in the thighs will assure a delicious outcome.

Drums will be around the same length or slightly longer. Cook them to the color and internal temperature specified above.In breasts, getting the precise temperature correct is very crucial. If you’re making wings, you’ll need to spend less time in the smoker. Legs

Prepare your flour dredge

Prepare your flour dredging while your thighs are burning (enter lick finger, touch leg, and make tsssss sound here).

You won’t be using breadcrumbs here; instead, you’ll use flour combined with herbs and spices to get a result comparable to that of a renowned Southern Colonel who also enjoys fried chicken.

Not quite 11, but a few!

Prepare two bowls, one with leftover buttermilk (about a cup or two), and the other with your flour mixture.

In a separate big mixing dish, combine the following ingredients for your secret recipe flour dredge:

  • 2 cups of plain or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp of cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried ginger powder

Make sure everything is properly combined, and then start your deep fryer (or start heating a pot of oil) about 10 minutes before the chicken is ready to come off the smoker.

Frying the chicken

When your chicken has finished smoking, you may finish it in the fryer or a big deep pot.

Because there is less chance of your coating burning while the chicken is still uncooked, you may afford to heat your oil at a little higher temperature than you would typically use to fry chicken.

So heat the oil to 300-325F to continue frying the chicken while your coating becomes a gorgeous golden color.

Submerge each thigh in the buttermilk, then toss in the flour mixture until fully coated.

Do another buttermilk dip and flour dredge for extra-crispy results, but you’ll get terrific results with just one round.

GENTLY drop the chicken pieces into the oil, laying them away from you to prevent hot oil spilling on you.

Do not put the chicken immediately into the fryer basket and lower into the oil; this will cause the chicken to cook itself around the basket. Instead, make sure the basket is completely immersed in oil before adding the chicken.

At the higher frying temperature, your chicken thighs should only take a few minutes to complete and develop a wonderful crisp golden coating, so keep an eye on it.

It’s vital not to overcrowd the fryer, so if you’re preparing for a crowd, fried 2-3 thighs at a time and finish them in the oven on a low temperature on a wire rack over a tray.

If you place them immediately on a tray, the bottoms will get wet, and no one wants a soggy bottom, do they?

Serving your smoked and fried chicken thighs

You may then sprinkle them with honey, serve them with fries or potato salad, top them with a spicy buffalo wing sauce, or put them on a burger bun with cheese, home-smoked bacon, and avocado.

This goes well with an ice-cold beer. Just right. Greetings, buddy!

Try these other smoked chicken recipes

  • Nashville chicken sandwich
  • Wings smoked with garlic and parmesan sauce
  • Smoked Chicken Thighs
  • Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce for Smoked Buffalo Wings
  • Easy Chicken Wing Brine (Plus How to Cook Them)


How do you make crispy skin when smoking chicken thighs?

The key to crispy chicken skin is to apply a brown sugar-based dry rub and smoke it at 275o F to prevent the skin from becoming rubbery. If the thighs aren’t crispy when the internal temperature reaches 172o, turn up the grill to 400o or broil them in the oven until golden brown.

Do you need to flip chicken thighs when smoking?

When you smoke chicken thighs, do you flip them? No, don’t turn them over. You may rotate them across the grill grate to better expose all sides to the heat and smoke, but the skin should always be on top. As the fat renders, it will flavor and preserve the thigh meat from drying out.

What does soaking chicken in buttermilk do?

What happens when you marinate chicken in buttermilk? Buttermilk’s moderate acidity allows it to tenderize the chicken without making it tough and chewy. When you dredge the chicken in the dry mix, the buttermilk helps it become flaky.

How to get crispy chicken on smoked chicken?

To prevent rubbery chicken skin in a smoker, forgo the low and slow cooking approach and turn up the heat! Cooking chicken in a smoker at temperatures ranging from 300°F to 350°F causes the fat in the skin to render, drop out, and crisp up the skin.

What is the key to crispy skin on smoked chicken?

Here are some tips for keeping smoked chicken skin from getting rubbery:
The refrigerator trick.
Cook at Higher Temps.
Don’t let the chicken down.
Don’t Soak the Chicken in Brine.
Avoid using a pan.
Spatchcock the bird.
Allow the chicken to rest.

How long to crisp chicken skin after smoking?

Rest for at least 10 minutes.

When your chicken has reached the ideal internal temperature, take it from the oven and set it aside to rest. The chicken will rest for approximately 10 minutes, complete the cooking process and enabling the skin to crisp up.

Should I wrap chicken thighs in foil when smoking?

Do you wrap your smoked chicken with foil? It is not essential since we are utilizing little slices of meat and cooking for a short period of time. If desired, cover the chicken in foil to help seal the liquids within the flesh and speed up the cooking time.

Should chicken thighs be smoked skin side up or down?

Smoke the chicken: Place the chicken skin side up on the smoker. Smoke the chicken for 1 12 – 2 hours, brushing it with the mop every 45 minutes. Mop the chicken every 30 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Should you foil chicken when smoking?

Do you wrap your smoked chicken with foil? You don’t wrap smoked chicken in foil. Once cooked and taken from the smoker, cover the meat in foil and set aside for 20 minutes to rest. This causes the liquids in the chicken to redistribute, making it more delicious.

How long is too long to leave chicken in buttermilk?

Following FDA rules, you may safely marinate chicken in buttermilk for up to 48 hours; however, most recipes do not exceed 24 hours. Marinating chicken in buttermilk for longer than 48 hours is dangerous, as is raw chicken, according to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture).

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