Pellet Smoker Smoked Chicken Thighs (Cupcake Chicken Thighs)

Adapted from Myron Mixon's cupcake chicken, these are uniform in shape and size and yield a tender and smoky chicken thigh.

overhead angle looking at a cutting board of smoked chicken thighs with sauce all over them
Prep Time:
30 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs 40 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
6 chicken thighs


  • 6 (8 ounce) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 1 ½ tablespoons smoked paprika

  • 4 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, or to taste

  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder

  • ½ tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 hardwood pellets

  • 1 1 6-cup disposable aluminum jumbo muffin pan

  • 1 cooking spray

  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth

  • 1 1 9x13-inch disposable aluminum baking pan

  • ½ cup barbeque sauce


  1. Using your hands, carefully peel away skin from chicken thighs. Lay skins flat on a cutting board, and use the back of a knife to gently scrape away excess fat from skins. Discard fat, and set scraped skins aside. Carefully remove and discard bones from thighs.

  2. Whisk together smoked paprika, 3 teaspoons salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small bowl until combined.

  3. Sprinkle paprika mixture evenly and liberally over chicken thighs. Fold each chicken thigh in half crosswise and wrap chicken thigh with one skin. Smooth the skin with your hands to remove any wrinkles or folds.

  4. Fill a pellet container with hardwood pellets according to manufacturer's instructions. Set temperature to 225 degrees F (107 degrees C), close lid, and let preheat for 10 to 15 minutes.

  5. Use a wooden dowel or thick skewer to poke 1/4-inch holes in the center of each cup of the disposable muffin pan. Spray each muffin cup lightly with cooking spray. Place one thigh, skin-side down, into each muffin cup.

  6. Pour chicken broth into the disposable aluminum baking pan, then place the muffin tin with the chicken into the baking pan.

  7. Place the baking pan in the preheated smoker. Smoke, maintaining temperature inside smoker at 300 degrees F (149 degrees C), for 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove pan from smoker, pour off chicken broth, and sprinkle chicken thighs with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

  8. Flip chicken thighs in each muffin cup so they are skin-side up and return pan to smoker. Continue smoking chicken thighs until skins start to turn golden brown, about 30 minutes. Brush chicken thighs with barbeque sauce and continue smoking until sauce starts to caramelize and a thermometer inserted into each thigh registers 175 degrees F (80 degrees C), 30 to 45 minutes.

  9. Remove baking pan from smoker. Let rest for 10 minutes before removing thighs from muffin cups and serving.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

425 Calories
24g Fat
10g Carbs
39g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 425
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 7g 34%
Cholesterol 144mg 48%
Sodium 2094mg 91%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 2mg 9%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 448mg 10%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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