In my humble opinion, the best part of the chicken is the thigh. There is plenty of fat to keep it moist and of course the fat is where the flavor is. Unfortunately it is not the healthiest part so this should be a treat, not an everyday staple;-) These smoked chicken thighs are seasoned front and back with my original rub (purchase recipes here) then stuffed with strips of fresh jalapeño and a good sized dollop of cream cheese.
To hold everything together, we wrap a single slice of thin bacon around the chicken thigh and smoke them until done. If you like, they can be glazed with my thick, tasty barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) to take them to the next level of delicious.
I'm not even going to tell you how many of these I ate.. they were SO good!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Smoker Temp: 275°F
- Meat Finish Temp: 170-175°F
- Recommended Wood: Hickory or Pecan
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Jeff's original rub recipe (purchase recipes here)
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 4 fresh jalapenos, cleaned, deseeded
- 8 slices of thin bacon
- ½ to ¾ stick of butter
- Muffin pan with at least 8 holes. Large rectangles are best.
- Jeff's original barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here)
Clean and deseed the jalapeño peppers. Then cut them into strips that are about ¼ inch wide.
I got (6) strips out of each pepper.
Open the 8 ounce box of cream cheese and lay it on a cutting board. Use a knife to cut it in half, then cut the 2 pieces in half, then cut the 4 pieces in half. You'll end up with (8) pieces that are equal in size.
Set the peppers and cream cheese aside.
The thighs I purchased had a considerable amount of fat on them so I used some kitchen shears in tandem with a sharp knife to remove most of this.
With the seasoned thighs laying out flat, lay a piece of the cream cheese and 2-3 strips of the jalapeno pepper in the center.
Fold the thighs over the top of the “stuffing” and they are ready to wrap in bacon.
You will need a single slice of thin bacon for each chicken thigh. Stretch the bacon a little if you can to make it longer and this will give you more wrapping capability.
Hold the stuffed thigh in your hand and wrap a piece of stretched bacon around the thigh to hold it together.
As you finish wrapping the thighs with bacon, place each one in a hole in the muffin pan. This will help to hold it together and give it great shape.
If you do not have a muffin pan, carefully lay them on a Weber grill pan for easy transport to and from the smoker.
If you like, you can purchase this pan on Amazon.
Most who make these place a pat of butter on top of each one for flavor and moisture.. I rarely say no to butter 😉
I just happened to have ¾ stick of butter in the fridge and I cut it into 8 equally sized pieces.
Setup your smoker for cooking at about 275°F with indirect heat. If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
I recommend letting any smoker preheat for 30-60 minutes before using it as this allows all of the metal to heat up and that helps to maintain heat and to recover faster when you open the door or lid.
I used the Camp Chef Woodwind (now called Woodwind SG) pellet grill for chicken thighs but any smoker will work great as long as it can maintain the temperature adequately. You can definitely cook these at lower temperatures if you need to but it will take longer.
About the Camp Chef Woodwind SG
Pellet smoking is an ALL WOOD method of smoking.. like a big stick burner, the heat comes from burning real wood and the smoke is just something that naturally happens when you burn wood. There is nothing more “real” than using real wood to cook and smoke your food.
Among pellet grills, the Camp Chef Woodwind is one of the best due to how well it works and all of the great features that it has.. many that are not found on the other brands and models:
- An ash cup on the bottom of the unit to catch the ashes and make cleanup a lot easier. I am pretty particular and still vacuum out the smoker but you certainly don't have to do that often with this added feature.
- A chute opens on the bottom side of the hopper so you can dump the pellets into a container and replace them with a different flavor (nice!).
- A 2nd full-size cooking shelf comes standard. You just can't have too much shelf space in my opinion.
- A propane powered sear box capable of 900°F that attaches to the right side of the unit. This allows you to sear burgers, steaks, chicken, etc. once they are done cooking. You could also just use it to cook steaks or other meats at very high heat.
- 3 year warranty and free shipping ain't a bad feature either!
- Did I mention that the fire pot where the pellets burn is made from stainless steel.. it will probably outlast me!
- Last but certainly not least, there's a knob on the outside that allows you to slide the heat deflector to the side which lets some of the flames and direct heat come straight up, through cutouts in the drip pan, and to the food you are cooking. This “direct heat” means you can put a sizzle on things like hot dogs, burgers, chicken, etc although I still like the searbox much better for this purpose.
Many of you have let me know that you purchased this pellet grill due to my recommendations and that you are having the time of your life using it. I love hearing how you are having fun with your smoker! I only recommend smokers that I love to use and if I love to use it, I just naturally think that you will too.
If you are looking for an easy to use smoker that burns REAL WOOD for heat and smoke, that's versatile enough to smoke, bake, barbecue, grill and even sear, then look no further. This grill is for YOU!
Back to Setting Up the Smoker..
Once the smoker is preheated and ready to go, it's time to smoke!
If you want to see all of my recommended smokers.. check them out HERE.
The cooking instructions include (2) sub steps.. cooking them for about 40 minutes at 275 °F then foiling them to tenderize and finish.
Place the muffin pan of wrapped chicken thighs on the smoker grate and leave them for about 40 minutes. This is to get them to about 145-150°F and to get some smoke on them.
After this, cover the muffin pan with a piece of foil to let the thighs tenderize and finish cooking. I recommend using a leave in thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks to monitor them. This process will only take about 20-25 minutes tops for them to reach 170-175°F.
Once they finish, use a instant read thermometer to check each one and make sure they have reached at least 165°F with an optimum temperature of 170-175°F for tenderness.
Make a batch of my barbecue sauce or your favorite sauce and coat each piece of chicken liberally using a basting brush. You can also dip the thighs in the sauce if you like.
Place the thighs back in the smoker at 275°F for about 10-15 minutes to set the sauce.
Bring them in the house and serve them up immediately.
***Note: you get the Texas style rub recipe free with your order!
If I could give these recipes away, I would do that. I really want you to have them! But, then, this is how I support the newsletter, the website and all of the other stuff that we do here to promote the art of smoking meat.
Read these recent testimonies:
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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Jalapeño Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Thighs
- Clean and deseed the jalapenos then cut them into ¼ inch strips. Cut the block of cream cheese into 8 equally sized pieces. Set aside.
- Lay a piece of the cream cheese and 2-3 pieces of the jalapeno strips in the center of each thigh and fold over to close.
- Wrap a piece of stretched bacon around each chicken thigh to hold it closed. Place the stuffed and wrapped thighs into the holes of a muffin pan to help them hold their shape while they cook.
- Preheat the smoker to 275°F using indirect heat and hickory or pecan for smoke.
- Once the smoker is ready, place the pan of chicken onto the grate of the smoker and let them cook for about 40 minutes.
- After 35-40 minutes, cover the pan with a piece of foil to tenderize the chicken and let them continue cooking for about 20-25 minutes or until they reach 170-175°F.
- Remove from the smoker and serve immediately.