Cheesy Smoked Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

These smoked chicken thighs are stuffed with lots of white cheddar and jalapeños, seasoned with Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) and wrapped in bacon to hold it all together.

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My original rub is the absolute best seasoning you will find for these smoked chicken thighs. It's low on salt and really big on flavor!

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Helpful Information
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Brine Time: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 250°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Apple
What You'll Need
  • 8-12 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
  • Buttermilk brine (recipe below)
  • Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here)
  • White cheddar, cut into 2″ sticks
  • Jalapeños, diced (fresh or pickled work great)
  • Bacon, thin sliced
Step 1: Brining with Buttermilk

Soaking chicken in buttermilk is a great way to tenderize chicken and it adds some nice flavor to the meat as well.

In this version of bacon wrapped chicken thighs, I decided to combine the brining process into the buttermilk soak.

Remove the boneless chicken thighs from the package, trim off the extra fat with a pair of kitchen shears then place them in a medium sized bowl.

(As you can see, I got in a hurry and forgot to trim the fat before the soak. I took care of this afterwards.)

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In a gallon sized pitcher, combine ½ gallon of buttermilk with ½ cup of coarse kosher salt. Stir for about 2 minutes to make sure the salt is dissolved.

Pour enough buttermilk brine over the meat to cover, put a lid on it and place the bowl in the fridge for about 3-4 hours.

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After 3-4 hours, remove the chicken from the fridge and take the thigh meat out of the buttermilk, rinsing each piece well to remove any residual salt.

Discard the buttermilk brine.

Step 2: Season the Meat

There are 2 ways to season the meat:

The Better Way

Place the brined chicken thighs into a lidded container one layer at a time. Add Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) to the first layer then add the 2nd layer of thighs and apply rub to those and so on.

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Place the chicken back into the fridge for about 2 hours.

Here's what they look like when they come out of the fridge. The rub mixes with the meat juices and creates a sort of marinade. Because the rub is low in salt, it does not make them too salty even though they've been brined in buttermilk.

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The Quick Way

The buttermilk brine tenderized them and gave them a lot of flavor so if you have to do the faster version of the seasoning process, it's ok.

Lay them out flat

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Season the inside liberally with Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here).

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Let them sit for about 5-7 minutes or until the rub starts looking “wet”.

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The chicken thighs are now ready to stuff with cheese and jalapeños.

Step 3: Add Cheese and Jalapeños

Cut a block of white cheddar cheese into ½ inch strips that are about 2 inches long.

You can also buy cheese sticks that already about the right size in diameter. Just cut them in half and they are perfect.

Add a teaspoon of diced jalapeño on top of the cheese.

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Fold the chicken thighs back over to finish the stuffing process.

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Step 4: Wrap with Bacon

Stretch the bacon to make sure it is as long and thin as possible. This will help it to cook up faster and to have a better bite through.

Note: the bacon is not the main attraction in the recipe. It does a great job of holding the chicken thighs together and not letting the stuffing fall out during the cooking process.

It doesn't taste bad either so that's a plus 😉

Wrap a single piece of bacon around the chicken thigh starting at one end and going around it a couple of times to finish at the other end.

Pull the bacon tight as you wrap.

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Now use a 2nd piece of bacon to wrap around the ends of the stuffed chicken thighs. This will keep the hot bubbly cheese from running out freely.

Some will ooze out but most of it will stay in.

Stretch the bacon to make it longer and thinner.

Pull it tight as you wrap to make sure it holds well.

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Give the outside of the chicken thighs another sprinkle of Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here) to finish them up.

Step 5: Into the Smoker

Set up your smoker for cooking at about 250°F if possible.

I recommend apple wood or a fruit wood if you have it. If not, any good smoking wood will work great.

Once the smoker is preheated and ready, place the chicken thighs on the rack or you can use a Bradley rack or other wire mesh cooling rack for easy transporting to and from the smoker.

Tip: set the bradley rack or something similar on top of a disposable pan to keep the bacon grease and cheese from dripping down into your smoker.

Let the chicken thighs cook for about 1.5 hours or until they reach around 165°F in the center.

Step 6: Finished

The cheese is just oozing out a little from under the bacon and they are delicious and ready to serve. Serve to your guests right away while they are still piping hot.

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Printable Recipe

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Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

4.5 from 8 reviews

These smoked chicken thighs are stuffed with lots of white cheddar and jalapeños, seasoned with Jeff's original rub and wrapped in bacon to hold it all together.

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 4 hours 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 6 hours 10 mins
  • Yield: 4-6
  • Category: Entree
  • Cuisine: Hot Smoking

Ingredients

  • 8-12 chicken thighs, skinless and boneless
  • Buttermilk brine (recipe below)
  • Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here)
  • White cheddar, cut into 2″ sticks
  • Jalapeños, diced (fresh or pickled work great)
  • Bacon, thin sliced

Instructions

  1. Make buttermilk brine by combining ½ gallon buttermilk with ½ cup coarse kosher salt. Stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved.
  2. Place chicken into brine-safe lidded container.
  3. Pour buttermilk brine over chicken to cover.
  4. Place container with chicken into fridge for 4 hours during brining.
  5. Rinse chicken well to remove any residual salt and discard brine.
  6. Lay chicken thighs flat on cutting board.
  7. Season liberally with Jeff's original rub.
  8. Place ½ white cheddar cheese stick and 1 teaspoon of diced jalapeño onto chicken thigh
  9. Fold chicken thigh over.
  10. Wrap stretched piece of bacon around chicken thigh to hold it closed.
  11. Wrap another piece of bacon from end to end to keep the cheese from coming out once it melts.
  12. Smoke chicken thighs for about 1.5 hours at 250°F using apple or other smoking wood.
  13. Serve immediately.

 

About the Author

Long time Industrial Engineer turned self-proclaimed fire poker, pitmaster and smoke whisperer and loving every minute of it!

21 Comments on this article. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Keith September 16, 2017 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    where can i get the Bradley racks at, do you sell them.

  2. Kevin Monday March 3, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    I trying it tomorrow the cheesy smoked bacon wrap

  3. Mark June 11, 2016 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Jeff is this an indirect cook or direct? I have a green egg

    • Jeff Phillips June 12, 2016 at 12:01 am - Reply

      I recommend indirect cooking method using the plate setter on the BGE.

      • Steve Largent June 26, 2016 at 2:11 pm - Reply

        Jeff,

        I couldn’t decide between these and the chicken breasts stuffed with cream cheese and jalepeno’s so I smoked them both.

        Also my first time using the rub.

        It got RAVE reviews from my family along with requests to cook them again. My wife doesn’t like that many smoked foods and she went on and on about how amazing the flavors were.

        Thanks, I can’t wait to try something else!!!

  4. Will Clay May 22, 2016 at 11:12 am - Reply

    Awesome recipe jeff. Anything with cheese and jalapenos always gets my thumbs up!

  5. Colleen C Talbot March 13, 2016 at 12:18 am - Reply

    Did this recipe tonight and it was delish… Next time though I will gently pound the chicken thighs so they are easier to wrap and I will let the bacon warm to room temp before wrapping around the thighs. I had to resort to soaked wooden skewers to make it work. Otherwise the recipe would have beeb 5 stars!

  6. JDFTwrth February 19, 2016 at 10:19 am - Reply

    How in the heck do you get the bacon to cook before the chicken gets all dried out???

  7. Jeff February 6, 2016 at 8:25 am - Reply

    The cheesy bacon wrapped chicken thighs were a huge hit with my friends and family last weekend. They could not stop talking about it and, in fact, I have been asked to make it again for the Super Bowl Party tomorrow!

  8. Gary Brown February 1, 2016 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Jeff, thighs are dark meat and I prefer white. Would this recipe work on boneless skinless breast? Thank you! Keep em coming!

    • Jeff Phillips February 1, 2016 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      You can certainly use chicken breast.. I would buy the breast tenders and flatten them out a little with a meat mallet so the thickness is consistent.

      You can then stuff them, roll them up and wrap with bacon just like the boneless thighs.

      The time should be about the same.. around 1.5 hours but you will want to watch them very carefully and take them off the smoker when they reach 165°F so they don’t dry out. It will also be very important to brine the meat for this same purpose.

  9. Lee January 31, 2016 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Made this today. I think the rub + apple smoke ended up a little on the sweet side. If I did this again I might try the Texas rib (not tried it yet) and maybe pecan smoke.

    Still, I liked it a lot as did the family. It’s on the “do again” list.

  10. Frank January 28, 2016 at 9:04 am - Reply

    Sounds real good but in the original write up you say use a teaspoon of jalapeno and in the printable version it says 1/2 teaspoon. I know it would come down to personal preference, but it’s still an inconsistency that some might question.

    • Jeff Phillips January 28, 2016 at 9:58 am - Reply

      Frank,

      This has been corrected… Thank you for letting me know about that typo.

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