Smoking chicken legs on a Pit Boss smoker is easy. But it can be hard to know where to start, which rack position should you use? Do you need any special racks for smoking chicken legs? What type of wood chips should you use? How long do I cook them for? This guide will answer all these questions and more.
Can You Smoke Chicken Legs On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
The Pit Boss pellet grill makes it easy to smoke, cook, rotisserie, or reheat both chicken legs. This is what makes chicken one of the most popular foods to cook in an outdoor bbq.
Smoking both the legs adds a flavorful taste you just can’t get from a traditional charcoal or gas grill.
In this article, I’ll walk you through step by step how to smoke mouth-watering chicken legs that will fall off the bone without a lot of effort.
Once you realize how easy it is to cook them, they’ll be your new favorite thing to smoke!
Smoking Chicken Legs On A Pit Boss
Some people prefer smoking white meat rather than dark meat, however, my family loves eating dark meat. Plus the legs and wings are less expensive than breasts and tend to cook more quickly. Dark meat is more forgiving than white chicken and won’t dry out as fast if overcooked.
Here’s everything you’ll need to cook your own chicken legs in the comfort of your own backyard:
- Pit Boss pellet grill (or any other brand)
- Chicken legs (at least a pound)
- Seasoning (use your favorite)
- Handheld thermometer
- Wood pellets for fuel and flavor
- Your favorite sides
How Many Chicken Legs to Buy?
How many you need will depend on how many people will be eating. Whenever I smoke chicken legs, I always buy 1-2 pounds. If you’re lucky, you can sometimes find these cuts on sale.
If so, then pick up as many as possible. Raw chicken can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, I try to cook mine in 2 days. Freeze any chicken that won’t be cooked right away. It can be stored in the store packaging if used in two months, anything longer will require you to vacuum seal it.
How to Clean and Prep The Legs
Should you wash your chicken before cooking it? We used to do it, but now the U.S Department of Agriculture recommends not washing it. The reason is that washing the chicken can cause diseases to spread further and contaminate other surfaces such as countertops, increasing the potential for foodborne illness. The cooking process will kill the bacteria, as long as it is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165° Fahrenheit.
Start by cleaning the countertops, cutting boards, and hands before handling the chicken. Every griller should have cutting boards they use for raw meat only, as it prevents cross-contamination.
Use a knife or kitchen shears to open the packaging. Remember to clean your knife after cutting raw chicken.
Remove the chicken legs and place them on a cooking sheet, cutting board, or plate. Use some paper towels and pat the chicken until it is as dry as possible before seasoning or cooking.
Do You Leave The Bone In?
Chicken legs are generally cooked with the bone in them, which makes them easier to handle while grilling. The skin, bones, and gristle all contribute to overall cook time, but as mentioned above, chicken legs are very forgiving and won’t dry out when overcooked.
How To Smoke Chicken Legs On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill
Once the chicken is prepped, dried, and seasoned, it’s time to get the pellet grill ready.
Smoking The Chicken
The secret to smoking the perfect chicken legs is to smoke them drizzle them with olive oil and season them with your favorite rub. Set the temperature to 250-275° degrees F, which will prevent the skin from turning leathery.
Indirect or Direct Heat?
Cook the chicken legs or quarters over indirect heat, as you don’t want them to burn over an open flame. Some people, myself included will open the flame broiler for the last minute on the grill.
Finishing the chicken over direct heat will add the famous grill marks on the chicken, steaks, and burgers. It’s not necessary, but if you decide to open the flame broiler, make sure you leave the chicken over the open flame for a short period, with the lid open.
Leave the P-setting the factory default, which is P-4 on the Pit Boss. If you’re cooking in cold weather and have trouble keeping the temperature keeps fluctuating, you can use the P-Setting for cold temperatures.
Place The Legs On The Rack
Put the chicken directly on the grill grates, making sure the chicken doesn’t touch each other. I always put my chicken legs on the main cooking grates and hardly ever use the top grates.
Turn The Temperature Up
If you don’t want to smoke the chicken the full time, you can always turn the grill up halfway through the cook. I’ve done this if I don’t have time to wait for the chicken to smoke to a safe internal temperature.
You can turn the temperature up to 300-350° Fahrenheit.
Should I Flip The Chicken?
While not necessary, I like to flip mine to ensure both sides cook evenly and have nice grill marks. Just open the lid and use some tongs to flip them halfway through the cook.
Monitor The Internal Temperature
Use a handheld thermometer to ensure the legs cook thoroughly. Insert the thermometer into the meatiest part of the meat, ensuring it doesn’t touch the bone. The chicken is safe to eat when it has reached an internal temperature of at least 165°Farenheit.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Legs On A Pit Boss?
It’ll take about 90 minutes (one and half hours) to smoke the chicken legs to a safe internal temperature. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken legs, cooking temperature, outside temperature, and how often you open and close the lid.
It’s best to have a handheld thermometer to ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165-185°F. If you’re cooking the chicken legs without sauce, pull them off the grill when they reach an internal temp of 170°.
Mix them in your favorite sauce and then put them back on the grill until they reach an internal temperature of 180°F. Those last 10 degrees on the smoker will help tighten and caramelize the sauce making every bite delicious.
You can also use a basting brush and lather them with sauce while on the grill. The downside of doing this is it will cause the grill to cool down too much and will take longer for the chicken to finish cooking.
Plus cooking them to an internal temperature of 180°F will prevent you from having any bloody meat around the bone.
Best Pellets to Use for Cooking Chicken Legs On A Pit Boss?
Chicken is not strong meat, therefore, you’ll want to use light flavored pellets such as Cherry, Pecan, or Apple. That said, the chicken won’t be on the grill very long, so it’s fine to use what you have in your hopper.
I hardly ever change the pellets before my cook. The last time I cooked chicken I used Lumberjack pellets because I was doing an experiment, which you can read about here.
However, most of the time, I use the Pit Boss Competition Blend as that’s what I usually have the most of.
When it comes to choosing the right pellets, it all comes to testing out different flavors to see which ones you prefer. So don’t be scared to experiment, it’s the only way you’ll know what you like.
Once the chicken has reached a safe internal temperature, remove them from the grill. Place them on a cooling rack or plate with tented aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes.
The resting period allows the juices to redistribute themselves back into the meat, making every bite juicy and flavorful.
It’s so easy to smoke chicken legs on the Pit Boss pellet grill. In fact, it’s one of the easiest cuts to smoke and is perfect for beginners. Unlike white meat, dark meat is more forgiving and won’t be dry if overcooked.
So the next time you see some on sale, throw them on the smoker. It’s a great dish to cook anytime and chicken goes with so many different sides!