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Quick Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs

The kitchen is my favorite place to be, but even I need some suppers that aren’t time intensive. If you’re needing a delicious meal fast, then you need to try this quick grilled, smoked chicken thighs recipe. My family raved the first time I made these and I have to agree, they are incredible. Which is why I’ve made them every week since then.

Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs on a white plate

Summer is always a great time to keep dinner simple. The oven get a break while the grill takes center stage.

I love summer because I get a wee break while Mark does the “cooking” on his grill. It’s glorious. I prep. He cooks.

The grill keeps the house from being hot and the smell rolling out of the top always makes me treasure summer. It’s a smell I look forward to when I’m growing weary of winter.

There are many ways to cook chicken, but grilling chicken thighs after they’ve been in this marinade produces a tender meat that is out of this world!

Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs with a side salad

Why you’ll love these Chicken Thighs

These chicken thighs will become a staple recipe for your grilling season because they are crazy simple and the flavor is beyond. You, literally, throw them in a ziploc with the marinade, let it sit for a few hours, and grill! Be sure to make more than you think you’ll need because they are THAT good.

Not only are these easy, they also use ingredients you already have on hand… aside from, maybe, the liquid smoke. But, you can get that at any local grocery store.

Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs stacked on a white plate

Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • Avocado Oil– You may use olive oil or coconut oil if you don’t have avocado oil.
  • Liquid Aminos– If you don’t have liquid aminos, you may use any soy sauce in place of it.
  • Lemon juice– This is the acid for this recipe. Acid is really important, so don’t skip this one. I’ve also used lime juice in a pinch.
  • Liquid Smoke– This adds a delicious smokey flavor and you cannot skip this ingredient. Consider it the secret ingredient for this dish.
  • Spicy Mustard– If you don’t have spicy mustard, toss in 2 teaspoons of ground mustard or use regular mustard as a substitute for the spicy mustard.
  • Black pepper– We love pepper in this house and this adds a bit of bite to this chicken
  • Chicken thighs– Yes, you must use chicken thighs. I prefer the skinless, boneless kind, but use what you have access to. If you can’t find thighs, chicken breasts will work, too, they just won’t be as tender and moist.

3 Easy Steps for making Marinated Chicken Thighs

  1. Add marinade ingredients to a gallon size ziploc bag. Seal the bag, mix the ingredients, and then place the chicken thighs in with the marinade.
  2. Allow the chicken to sit in the marinade, turning every hour, for 2-3 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to 450°F, remove the chicken from the marinade, and grill!

How to grill chicken thighs

The best part about using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts is that the thighs are a dark meat and retain their moisture better. They don’t tend to get dry, even when they are a tad overcooked.

For this recipe, the grilling is one of the most important parts of the process. There are a few things to remember when grilling, in order to end up with amazing grilled meats.

  • Using a marinade prior to grilling will help the meat to absorb juice, therefore, making it less likely to be dry once the grilling is finished.
  • Begin with a hot grill. Setting meat on a lukewarm grill will cause the outside to cook slowly, allowing juices to drip out as the meat cooks. You want to put your chicken on a hot grill, 450°F, to sear the outer layer of meat and lock in the moisture. Once you put the chicken on the grill, then you can turn down the heat to ensure you don’t burn your chicken.
  • Don’t flip too early- Each side will cook about 5 minutes on a properly preheated grill. If you go to turn your chicken and it’s “holding onto” the grates of the grill, give in another minute to cook. The meat should pull off of the grate easily when it’s ready to flip.

Can I use bone-in, skin-on thighs?

You certainly can use bone-in, skin-on thighs if that’s what you prefer. Boneless and skinless thighs make eating easier for kids, so that is what this recipe calls for, but use whatever you have!

Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs with a side salad on a wooden table

What to serve with smoked chicken thighs

  • Delicious Side Salad– We like to add hard-boiled eggs and fresh parmesan to our salads. We might even add some homemade croutons, if I have bread on hand!
  • Shredded Brussel Sprouts– Not every family loves brussel sprouts, but we do! I sauté 4 slices of bacon in our cast iron, add shredded brussel sprouts and 1/4 of a diced onion into the pan with the bacon. Season with salt and pepper (lots of both!) and cook until the brussels are tender.
  • Corn on the Cob– Corn is a great side to serve with grilled chicken thighs. Either grill the corn with the chicken or boil it on the stove!
  • Sweet Potato Fries- We are a divided house on this one. I love sweet potato fries and my kids love regular potato fries, either way… they are great with chicken.

Can smoked chicken thighs be made in the oven?

If you don’t have a grill, or you want this recipe when it’s no longer grilling weather, you can make this on your stovetop or oven!

  • Stovetop- Prep the chicken according to the directions. Preheat a cast iron over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and sear on each side for 5 minutes. The chicken might need a bit longer to fully cook on the inside, depending on the thickness. If you see that it needs longer, put a lid over the pan and turn off the heat. Allow the cast iron to finish cooking the chicken.
  • Oven- Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the prepared chicken in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Put the baking dish in the oven and turn the heat down to 350°F. Let the chicken cook for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
Grilled Smoked Chicken Thighs with a blue and white striped towel
How do you grill chicken without it being dry?

1. Use a marinade to soak chicken before grilling.
2. Preheat your grill to 450°F before putting the chicken on the grill.
3. Don’t flip the chicken until it easily releases from the grill grate.

How do you know if chicken is done cooking?

Chicken juices will run clear when the chicken is cooked through. The safe internal temperature for chicken is 165°F.

How long can you store cooked chicken?

Fully cooked chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cast Iron Tips on a Smooth Top Stove

Get all of the tips and best practices on using your cast iron pan on an electric stove. I have used a cast iron for years and will never go back… even though we own a smooth top range.

Plus, I share all there is to know for keeping your cast iron non-stick and rust free. Be sure to check out that post if you decided to make these chicken thighs on your cook top!

Cast iron will change your cook top life… I promise!

My Favorite Kitchen Things

Cooking Pans
chicken thighs on a bed of lettuce with egg

Smoked Grilled Chicken Thighs

Liz Quick
My family raved the first time I made these and I have to agree, they are incredible. Which is why I've made them every week since then. If you need an easy recipe that produces tender chicken, then this is the perfect recipe!
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 12 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 140 kcal


  • gallon ziploc
  • grill


  • 12 boneless chicken thighs
  • cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup liquid aminos, or soy sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder


  • Add all of the marinade ingredients to a large, gallon sized ziploc bag. Seal the bag and mix the ingredients well.
  • Once mixed, open the ziploc and add the chicken thighs to the bag. Seal the bag and allow the chicken to sit for 2-3 hours in the marinade.
  • Flip the chicken and marinade every hour to ensure both sides of the chicken are coated in the delicious marinade.
  • Preheat the grill to 450°F. Remove the chicken from the marinade, dispose of the leftover marinade, and place the chicken on the preheated grill.
  • Turn the grill down to medium low heat and grill each side of the chicken for 5 minutes, or until cooked through.
Keyword marinated chicken thighs, smoked chicken thighs

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  1. Thank you for sharing this recipe in your easy dinner ideas email! I’m excited to try it. We don’t currently have a grill. Have you tried baking this recipe instead and enjoyed the result?

    1. You could, totally, bake this as you would any other chicken thighs. You won’t have the charred bits, but it’ll still be delish!

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