High Heat Smoked Chicken Quarters
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These smoked chicken quarters are first brined then coated with a mayo based glaze to carry some of my original rub, garlic and chives onto the outside of the chicken and hold it there.
These are smoked in a pellet smoker at a hotter than usual temperature to help crisp the skin but if you have a traditional smoker that works better at the lower smoking temperatures, that will work just fine and I’ll give you some tips to help ensure the skin ends up with a good “bite through” texture.
That bacon wrapped corn on the cob you see in the picture above was also an experiment that turned out tremendously well and I’ll give you some information on that below.
- Preparation time: 15 minutes
- Brine time: 4 hours
- Dry Time: 4 hours
- Cook time: 1 to 1.5 hours
- Smoker temperature: 275°F
- Meat finish temperature: 165°F
- Recommended wood: Pecan
- Chicken quarters (1 or more per person)
- Brining solution (below)
- Jeff’s original rub
- Mayo Glaze (recipe below)
- Instant-read thermometer (Thermapen, ThermoPop, etc.)
Make a basic brine by adding 1 cup of coarse kosher salt (Mortons in the blue box) to 1 gallon of cold water.
Stir until the salt is dissolved and the water returns to clear.
Add about ¾ cup of brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved into the liquid.
Place the chicken quarters into a large zip top bag or other plastic, glass or stainless steel container.
Pour the cold brine solution over the chicken, put a lid or clear plastic over the top and put it in the fridge for about 4 hours.
When the brining time is complete, rinse the chicken really well to remove any residual salt.
Optional for better chicken skin
Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and put the chicken back into the fridge on a cooling rack or Bradley rack over a large baking sheet (to catch any drips).
Let the chicken skin air dry for at least a couple of hours but the longer you leave them, the more tight that skin will become as it dries. I like to leave it overnight for maximum result.
Mayo Glaze for Chicken
- ½ cup Mayonnaise
- 2 TBS Jeff’s original rub
- 1 TBS garlic, minced
- 2 TBS chives, chopped
Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Cover and store in the fridge until ready to use.
(I made several batches of this until I came up with the perfect ratios of ingredients. I have to admit the stuff is very tasty and I look forward to trying it on other types of meat as well.)
Put the chicken quarters into a pan to reduce the mess.
Place a dollop (a heaping TBS) of the mayo glaze onto each chicken quarter
Use your hands to massage the glaze all over the chicken trying to even get some down under the skin wherever possible.
I transferred them to a Bradley rack for easy transporting to and from the smoker.
Set up your smoker for cooking at 275°F if possible.
Please note: Some of you may have smokers that cannot cook this hot and if that is the case, no problem. Just set up for 225°F knowing that it will take slightly longer than mine did.
Place the chicken quarters directly on the smoker grate and let them smoke away for about 1.5 hours or until they reach 165°F in the thickest part as measured by a digital meat thermometer.
The only way to know for sure that the chicken is safely done to the proper temperature is to use a thermometer. I recommend the one and only Thermapen Mk4 for this.
It is a fast, high quality, temperature measuring device that you will use for years to come. It reads in 2 to 3 seconds, has an intelligent backlight that only comes on when the ambient light is low, senses motion for wake and sleep and is waterproof to IP67 so you can clean it without fear of water ingress.
This is the thermometer that I use in all of my cooking and I recommend you do the same.
The skin definitely gets a nice bite through when you cook it at 275°F but to enhance this, you can crank up the heat during the last 30 minutes or you can remove them 10-15 degrees early and place them on a very hot grill or under the oven broiler for a super high-heat finish.
The mayo glaze was phenomenal on the chicken and one that I will be using again very soon.
I used pecan wood for smoke and as most of you know, pecan is one of my favorites and I use it often regardless of what smoker I am cooking in.
If you have to add wood chips or chunks for smoke, I recommend keeping the smoke going for the entire time on these or for at least 1 hour.
When the chicken reaches 165°F in the thickest part, it is done and ready to eat.
Serve immediately for best results.
What if I don’t have a smoker yet?
As many of you have asked recently, yes, you can do these in the house oven using the same instructions at 275-300°F. This process is going to get you some really good tasting chicken but it won’t be as good as it could be with the natural smoke flavor. Get a smoker soon and you’ll quickly discover what you’ve been missing.
Can these be prepped ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to smoke?
Yes, brine, rinse, dry and apply the glaze then place them in a covered container and into the fridge until ready to cook but no more than 2 days (per the USDA).
What about the bacon wrapped corn on the cob in the picture?
I knew you’d ask so I wrote a post on how to do that at https://www.smoking-meat.com/bacon-wrapped-corn-on-the-cob
High Heat Smoked Chicken Quarters
Smoked chicken quarters coated with my new mayo glaze and then cooked on a pellet smoker at 275°F for chicken skin with a perfect bite through.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 -6
- Category: Entree
- Cuisine: Hot Smoking
- Chicken quarters ((1 or more per person))
- Brining solution ((below))
- Jeff’s original rub
- Mayo Glaze ((recipe below))
Step 1: Brine the Chicken
- Add 1 cup of coarse kosher salt to 1 gallon of cold water. Stir until water returns to clear and salt is dissolved.
- Add ¾ cup brown sugar and stir until dissolved into brine.
- Place chicken pieces into zip top bag and pour brine solution over chicken to cover.
- Seal bag or cover brining container and put into the fridge for about 4 hours.
- Remove brined chicken from fridge and rinse well under cold water to remove residual salt.
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel
- For better skin, place the chicken back into the fridge on a cooling rack, bradley rack, etc. over a baking sheet (to catch drips) for about 4 hours to dry and tighten the skin before applying glaze.
Step 2: Make the Mayo Glaze
- Make the glaze while the chicken is brining
- Into a small mixing bowl combine ½ cup of real mayonnaise, 2 TBS of Jeff’s original rub, 1 TBS minced garlic and 2 TBS chopped chives
Step 3: Apply the Glaze to the Chicken
- Place a heaping TBS of the mayo glaze onto each chicken quarter.
- Use your hands to massage the glaze all over the chicken getting it under the skin wherever possible.
- Chicken is now ready for the smoker.
Step 4: Into the Smoker
- Set up the smoker for cooking at 275°F using pecan or other smoking wood.
- Once the smoker is ready, place the chicken directly on the smoker grate.
- Let the chicken cook for 1 to 1.5 hours or until it reaches 165°F in the thickest part.
- For extra good chicken skin, remove the chicken before it is completely done (about 145-150°F) and place it on a very hot grill or under the oven broiler for a few minutes.
- Be sure it reaches a final temperature of 165°F before calling it done.
Step 5: Serve It Up
- Serve immediately.
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Thanks Jeff, this turned out awesome. Family loved it, big hit. Don’t normally smoke chicken, but this will be a new favorite.
Rubber disappointingly finish
Hey Jeff, would hickory wood work for this, too?
Yes, hickory works well with chicken in my opinion.
Did you turn the chicken?
I did not turn these. However, if you want more crispy skin, one method is to get your grill screaming hot and then place the chicken skin side down when it reaches about 145°F. You have to watch it really careful but it will render the fat in the skin and crisp it up. I recommend doing this before you add sauce at the end.
I am avoiding sugar… can I brine the chicken without adding the brown sugar? I have made the sugar free rub so that part is fine. Thanks. This sounds so good and keto friendly (minus the corn). :)
Jennifer, you can definitely brine without the sugar. It adds some color and flavor to the surface but you can easily leave it out for dietary needs.
I’ve been a long proponent of ur rub. Fabulous! However, the mayonaise glaze on this recipe is spot on and has a tremendous flavor value. Completely complimentary to the chicken. This is definitely a keeper!