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.
- 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
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.)
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.
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.
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* to the first layer then add the 2nd layer of thighs and apply rub to those and so on.
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.
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
Season the inside liberally with Jeff's original rub*.
Let them sit for about 5-7 minutes or until the rub starts looking “wet”.
The chicken thighs are now ready to stuff with 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.
Fold the chicken thighs back over to finish the stuffing process.
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.
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.
Give the outside of the chicken thighs another sprinkle of Jeff's original rub* to finish them up.
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.
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.
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
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I recently purchased both recipes. The files did not come thru right but Jeff was prompt to get it fixed. I tried them both last weekend and they were a huge hit. I followed his burnt ends recipe to the letter and my neighbors thought I was some master chef! Thanks Jeff! -Susan T.
Thank you for the great advice. Followed your rib recipe and everyone loved them. Used your rub and sauce. On point! -Charles W.
Love the sauce and rub recipes. So far I have used them on beef ribs, pork ribs, and different chicken parts. Can't wait to do a beef brisket. Texas rub is great as well! -Peter S.
Love the original rib rub and sauce! We have an annual rib fest competition at the lake every 4th of July. I will say we have won a great percent of the time over the past 15 years so we are not novices by any means. However, we didn't win last year and had to step up our game! We used Jeff's rub and sauce (sauce on the side) and it was a landslide win for us this year! Thanks Jeff for the great recipes. I'm looking forward to trying the Texas style rub in the near future! -Michelle M.
I tried the rub on a beef brisket and some beef ribs the other day and our entire family enjoyed it tremendously. I also made a batch of the barbeque sauce that we used on the brisket as well as some chicken. We all agreed it was the best sauce we have had in a while. -Darwyn B.
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Cheesy Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs
- 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
- Make buttermilk brine by combining ½ gallon buttermilk with ½ cup coarse kosher salt. Stir for 2 minutes or until dissolved.
- Place chicken into brine-safe lidded container.
- Pour buttermilk brine over chicken to cover.
- Place container with chicken into fridge for 4 hours during brining.
- Rinse chicken well to remove any residual salt and discard brine.
- Lay chicken thighs flat on cutting board.
- Season liberally with Jeff's original rub.
- Place ½ white cheddar cheese stick and 1 teaspoon of diced jalapeño onto chicken thigh
- Fold chicken thigh over.
- Wrap stretched piece of bacon around chicken thigh to hold it closed.
- Wrap another piece of bacon from end to end to keep the cheese from coming out once it melts.
- Smoke chicken thighs for about 1.5 hours at 250°F using apple or other smoking wood.
- Serve immediately.