Everyone loves smoked chicken. The smoky flavor and crispy skin is irresistible to many people, but not so much the long hours it takes to smoke a whole bird. That’s why we’re going to show you how easy it is to smoke chicken quarters on a Pit Boss pellet grill.
Can You Smoke Chicken Quarters On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
The Pit Boss pellet grill makes it easy to smoke, grill, reheat or cook bone-in chicken quarters. The Pit Boss pellet grill offers unique airflow and precision temperature control, making it easy to smoke the quarters to a safe internal temperature of at least 165°F, although I prefer cooking mine to 180°F so it doesn’t have reddish-pink meat at the bone.
Smoking the quarters adds a great smoky flavor you won’t get from a traditional gas or charcoal grill.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the complete steps of how to smoke the perfect chicken quarters everyone will enjoy eating.
Once you see how easy it is to cook, they’ll be your favorite cut of chicken to smoke.
Smoking Chicken Quarters On A Pit Boss
If you’re planning on smoking chicken quarters, you’ll need to have the following items to make them in your backyard.
- Pit Boss pellet grill (Traeger, or any other brand)
- A pound or more of chicken quarters
- Your favorite chicken seasoning
- Handheld thermometer
- Wood pellets (apple, cherry, pecan, etc)
Smoking chicken quarters is extremely easy because the pellet grill does most of the work.
What Does It Mean to Smoke Chicken Quarters?
Smoking chicken quarters means you’re cooking the chicken over indirect heat at a lower temperature. The flavor of the wood pellets is infused into the smoked meat, giving it a smokey flavor.
Pellet grills are popular for smoking meat because they give you more control over the temperature than traditional gas and charcoal grills.
Cooking chicken quarters means you’re cooking them on higher heat like you would in the oven. Here’s a video that walks you through how to cook chicken quarters on high heat.
How Many Chicken Quarters to Buy?
Most people, myself included will smoke at least one pound of chicken quarters or any other type of meat. After all, if you’re going to do the work of prepping the chicken, cleaning the grill, etc, you should cook more than enough, even if you have leftovers.
After all, leftovers can be used in many other dishes. If you don’t plan on using the leftovers immediately, you can debone the chicken and vacuum pack them to keep them in the freezer when you don’t have time to cook.
How to Clean and Prep the Chicken Quarters
If you just bought the chicken from the supermarket, take them out of the package and place them on the cutting board. Avoid running cold water over poultry as it will only increase the chances of bacteria spreading to your kitchen counters, sink, and other places in your kitchen.
Instead, grab some paper towels and pat dry every section of the chicken quarter. The most important step is to make sure the chicken pieces are completely dry before they go on the grill.
If you found frozen chicken quarters in the freezer, you’ll want to make sure they are completely thawed out before cooking. While it’s possible to cook frozen chicken, understand that it will increase your cooking time by at least 50%. In addition, you won’t be able to season them before putting them on the grill.
This is why I always prefer to thaw out my chicken before putting it on the grill.
Seasoning the Chicken
When it comes to seasoning chicken, you can use any of your favorite seasonings. Some people will use a dry rub, marinade, brine, or sauce of some type to add more flavor.
For the best flavor and texture, you should marinate the chicken for 5-8 hours and no more than 24 hours. If you’re in a rush, letting the marinade sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking will add flavor to the outside of the chicken.
Rub chicken all over with salt, pepper, and any spices you enjoy. The best seasonings for chicken is subjective as it comes down to a person’s taste buds and what they like.
Do You Have to Separate The Thighs and Drumsticks?
Some people will buy the quarters instead of buying legs and thighs. Chicken leg quarters are the thigh and drumstick of the chicken.
You can cook the legs whole or cut and separate the thighs and drumsticks.
Most people, myself included will cook and serve them as quarters, because it’s easier.
That said separating chicken quarters is not hard to do, especially if you have a sharp knife.
Here’s how to do it.
- Using a sharp knife slice towards the V center of the chicken until you reach the hard joints with bones.
- Grab the quicken quarter with both hands and push away from you until the joint pops. releasing the drumstick and thigh.
- Grab your sharp knife and cut through the hanging skin and meat to separate the drumstick and thigh.
- Repeat the process for every chicken quarter you have.
If you don’t feel comfortable separating the chicken quarters at home, you can ask the butcher to do it for you.
How to Smoke Chicken Quarters On A Pit Boss Pellet Grill?
Once the chicken is dry and seasoned, you’ll want to go outside and preheat the grill or smoker for 10 minutes to the ‘smoke’ setting on the grill. Once the grill reaches the set temperature, it’s time to put the chicken on the grill.
Smoking The Chicken
Place the chicken quarters on the bottom rack over with the flame broiler closed. You’ll be cooking them over indirect heat to ensure they don’t burn. Direct heat is most commonly used for foods that take less than 25 minutes to cook such as vegetables, kabobs, steaks, etc.
Once the chickens are positioned on the rack, insert the Pit Boss meat probe to help you monitor the internal temperature without continually opening the lid.
Smoke the chicken quarters for about an hour then increase the temperature to 350°F and cook for another 30-60 minutes.
The default P4 setting is the recommended setting for cooking most of the meals. Unless you’re cooking in colder weather, then you’ll have to try different settings to see which one works best for maintaining a consistent temperature.
Should I Flip the Chicken?
While not necessary, I always flip the chicken halfway through the cook. This ensures the chicken cooks evenly on both sides. Plus, I have found that the skin becomes crunchier when I flip the chicken and cook it on the skin side down over moderately low heat.
Monitoring the Internal Temperature
The Pit Boss probe makes it easy to monitor the temperature without opening the lid, especially, if you have the Smoke IT WiFi control board. That said, don’t rely on the probe alone. I always use a handheld thermometer to check the internal temperature.
According to the U.S., Food & Drug Administration (FDA) poultry should be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). This ensures the food has no harmful bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
I always cook my dark meat to an internal temperature of 180°-185°F. The reason being is dark meat has high amounts of myoglobin and when not cooked correctly, you’ll see pink/reddish meat around the bones.
How Long Does It Take To Smoke Chicken Quarters On A Pit Boss?
Smoking the chicken quarters at 180 -200°F then increasing the heat to 350°F will take a total of 1.5 to 2 hours to cook completely. The cook time will vary depending on how well the grill maintains the proper temperature, the size of the quarters, and the outside temperature.
Regardless of how long it takes to cook, it’s important not to rush the process. Pulling the chicken off the grill before they reach a safe internal temperature will increase the chances of getting sick.
Best Pellets to Use for Cooking Chicken Quarters?
Pellets come in different flavors and my favorite is apple pellets. I like to use these for backyard cooking when I plan on smoking or grilling chicken quarters. They add a great sweetness to the flavor and aroma of the food.
The second best type of pellets to use is cherry pellets. These add a rich, rosy touch to food and add a hint of smokiness without adding too much heat.
Once the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of a minimum of 165°F, remove them from the grill and place them on a deep pan over paper towels or cooling rack about 15 minutes before serving to allow the juices to settle down.
This allows the juices to flow back into the meat. If you cut into the meat right away, all of its juices will run out and make your meal dry and less delicious!
If you’re looking for a delicious way to cook chicken quarters, consider smoking them on the Pit Boss pellet grill. Cooking meat over indirect heat means the temperature is lower and there are fewer flare-ups or grill flares that can make it difficult to control your cooking times.
Additionally, the smoke that’s released as you cook will give your chicken an intensely delicious flavor everyone will love!