Smoked Chicken Thighs With Whiskey Peach Glaze

smoked chicken thighs

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Marinate: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
  • Yields: 6 to 8 thighs

These smoked chicken thighs with a whiskey peach glaze are incredibly juicy and more exciting than the same old grilled chicken breasts. You can make this tasty main dish in your smoker, charcoal grill, pellet grill, or gas grill. 

Chicken cooks faster than most smoked meats and doesn’t need to be tenderized through the “low and slow” method. It’s cooked at a lower temperature at first, then the heat is cranked up to achieve a crispy skin. 

You don’t need to brine the chicken thighs since they are already extremely juicy when cooked. If you are using breasts instead of thighs, you may want to brine the pieces first. Just place it in a bowl of salty water, cover, and allow to brine in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Ingredients

  • For the Rub:
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • For the Peach Whiskey Glaze:
  • 3/4 cup peach or apricot jam (or preserves)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh or frozen and thawed peaches (or apricots)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for smoked chicken
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  2. Stir together the brown sugar, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

    ingredients for a spice rub mixed in a bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  3. Trim the extra fat or any loose skin off of the chicken thighs.

    trimmed chicken thighs on a sheet pan
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  4. Rub the chicken with the rub mixture. Make sure to get the rub under the skin, on top of the skin and on the underside of the chicken. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

    chicken thighs rubbed with spices
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney 
  5. Preheat the grill or smoker to 180 F. Prepare your wood chips. If you are using a regular grill, place a pan of damp wood chips in a disposable pan under one side of the grill rack. Place the chicken, skin side up on the opposite side of the grill. This will “smoke” the meat for you without having a smoker. 

    If using a smoker, place the chicken inside skin side up and close the lid or door. Cook for 15 minutes.

    chicken cooking on a smoker
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  6. While the chicken is cooking for the first 15 minutes, prepare the glaze. Add the jam, ketchup, peaches, brown sugar, molasses, whiskey, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and hoison sauce into a small saucepan. Stir to combine.

    whiskey peach glaze in a saucepan
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  7. Cook on medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently until the sauce is thickened. It should be quite thick and sticky. 

  8. Increase the grill or smoker temperature to 375 F. If you are using a grill or pellet grill, you can flip the chicken to sear the skin as well. This will make it extra crispy.

  9. When the chicken is at about 160 F internally, you can brush the glaze over the top of the chicken skin. Finish cooking until the chicken reaches the internal temperature of 165 F, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately or enjoy cold!

    glazed smoked chicken thighs on a smoker
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Recipe Variations

  • If you are going to use breasts instead of thighs, it's a great idea to brine them first. Place them in a cold bath of salt water. About 8 cups of water and a 1/4 cup of salt. Brine for at least an hour or up to 12 hours, then follow the rest of the instructions. The cook time for each step will need to be increased by about 5 minutes. If you are using bone-in chicken breasts it will take about 10 extra minutes for the initial cook and about 5 extra after you add the glaze.

Tips

  • Applewood or hickory wood chips work great for this recipe.
  • You don’t have to use all the glaze when smoking the chicken. You can serve some on the side after it has finished cooking. Just be careful not to cross-contaminate with the chicken as it is still cooking.