Sassy Smoked Chicken Legs

  • By: Jack Mancuso

Sassy Smoked Chicken Legs - Cuso Cuts

The saying, “finger-lickin’ good” probably started with sassy smoked chicken legs. Chicken is the most flexible meat in the world, adapting to nearly any flavor you throw at it. Make a rub or marinade, add barbecue sauce, and YUM. In this case you’re getting the smoky taste, layering the flavors. 

Smoked Chicken Legs are next-level meals, which are easy to make. They’re ideal for a picnic, party, or a family meal. Add a few sides, and you’re good to go. 

Tip: I recommend making more than you need. These go quickly. Dig in and bring napkins!

My Smoked Chicken Leg Recipe

This is really a basic recipe, which means you can play around with it. Change up the spices and barbecue sauce to create something perfect for your family’s tastes. Really, the options are only limited to your imagination. 

BONUS: Chicken legs are cheap. So, when you’re having numerous people over, they won’t break your budget. 

Best Smoking Wood

You can use nearly any type of smoking wood for your chicken legs-oak, maple, hickory. BUT my favorite smoking woods are fruity, like peach, cherry, and apple. This type of wood supports the sweet-smoky taste you’re trying to achieve.

Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Leg Rub

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 tsp mild smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • ½ tsp. Cayenne pepper

Instructions for Chicken Rub

If you’re looking for simplicity, this is it. Just mix the ingredients together. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container located in a dark area of your pantry. 

Ingredients for Smoked Chicken Legs 

  • 2 chicken legs per person
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Barbecue rub
  • Barbecue sauce (your choice)


  1. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F.
  2. Drizzle olive oil over the chicken legs so they are lightly coated
  3. Sprinkle your chicken rub on both sides of the meat. Gently rub it in.
  4. Move the drumsticks to the smoker, cooking under a closed lid for about 1 hour to reach 165 F. Larger legs will need about 30 minutes more.
  5. Brush the legs with barbecue sauce, close the lid and wait 10 more minutes.
  6. Remove from the grill and let the legs rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Serve and enjoy.

Factoid: Chicken should be 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the drumstick before you consume it. Digital meat thermometers are perfect for checking. Some people let the temperature go to 175 to ensure there is no pink in the middle.

Pitmaster’s Memo

You can store leftover drumsticks in a food storage bag or airtight container for 3 days. Per the USDA, you can place the cooked legs into the freezer for up to 4 months.

I suggest reheating them in the oven at 400 degrees F, placing them on a wire rack over a cooking sheet for 15 minutes. This helps maintain their crispness. Alternatively, air fry them at 400 degrees for five minutes.

Side Dishes

Fettuccine alfredo

Greek-style garden salad

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Honeyed Carrots

Roasted Cauliflower

Smoked Deviled Eggs

Smoked Seasoned Potatoes

Spinach pasta toss

From the Bar

Pale Ale





Sparkling juice

Ginger Beer

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