Craving something meaty and delicious, but that won’t break the bank? Smoking turkey thighs is the answer! Full of amazing flavor, one good size turkey thigh is enough for 2-3 people, and it’s so easy to create this flavorful dish!
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If you’ve ever been to a fair, you may have seen people walking around with giant smoked turkey legs. Sure, they’re fun to eat, but flavor-to-flavor, I challenge those legs to one of these smoked turkey thighs. Infused with flavor, the meat is so tender and juicy and delicious that they’re hands-down, my new favorite.
And, smoking turkey thighs isn’t difficult! I use my Traeger pellet smoker to make these delish thighs, and it’s practically set-it-and-forget it cooking.
What You Need To Make Smoked Turkey Thighs
- Traeger pellet smoker or your favorite smoker
- Hardwood pellets
- Turkey thighs – one thigh will feed about 2 people
- Chicken rub – I use Montreal Chicken Spice but you can use your own
A Word On Turkey Thighs
Turkey thighs are an economical cut of turkey. Everyone seems to want the breast or the legs, and the poor thighs get neglected. That’s OK because it keeps the cost down on this meaty cut of poultry.
Look for turkey thighs that are “unseasoned.” Often, chicken and turkey is injected with a brine solution to a) keep the meat tender and juicy and b) to pump up the weight so they can sell it for more money.
This solution often contains sugar, and I’ve even seen some with trace starches in them. So, look at the ingredient label and make sure that your turkey thighs are 100% turkey.
How To Smoke Turkey Thighs
This smoked turkey thigh recipe couldn’t be any easier!
- Preheat your Traeger pellet smoker as per the manufacturer’s instructions, or heat your smoker up to about 180-F.
- Put the turkey thighs into a large bowl and sprinkle them liberally with the Montreal Chicken Seasoning or your favorite rub. Rub it all over, then flip the thighs over and season the other side.
- Put the thighs skin side up on the smoker and set the temperature to 180-F (if you haven’t already). Let the thighs cook low and slow. They’ll take about 2 hours, depending on how cold they were when they went onto the smoker, and how big they are.
- Let the thighs cook until they reach 165-F. Use a digital thermometer or your probe right next to the thigh bone to test the temperature.
- Remove them from the smoker and let them rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
Chef Jenn’s Tips
- Use up the extra room on the smoker with recipes that cook at a similar temperature, like this Smoked Asparagus.
- Make extra! Smoked turkey meat makes excellent quesadillas, turkey salad, and more.
- Turkey thighs can have a lot of fat on them – trim some of the excess off but make sure you leave a good bit of skin over the top.
- Hardwood or a hardwood blend is my choice of pellet for this recipe. Turkey’s stronger flavor can take a more aggressive smoke flavor.
- Don’t be afraid to really season the thighs well. Some of it will drip off in the smoker.
What To Serve With This Traeger Smoked Turkey Thigh Recipe
This meaty turkey thigh recipe can hold up to some equally flavorful side dishes. I’d pair it with a colorful Mexican Street Corn Salad, refreshing Shirazi Salad, or this Creamy Orzo with Tomatoes and Spinach. And for dessert, this Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble is a perfect choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Actual smoking time can depend on the size of the thighs and how cold they were when they went into the smoker. Mine usually take about 2 hours if I’ve got the heat set to 180-F.
Turkey thighs are delicious smoked, but they can also be baked in the oven, cooked in stews in the slow cooker, and even done in the air fryer.
Most large supermarkets should carry turkey thighs, but if not, you can ask your local butcher.
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sTep By Step Process
Smoked Turkey Thighs
- 2 turkey thighs about 3 pounds
- 1/4 cup Montreal Chicken Seasoning
- Trim the excess fat from the turkey thighs and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- Coat both sides of the turkey thighs evenly with the Montreal Chicken Seasoning or your favorite rub.
- Preheat the smoker as per the manufacturer's instructions, to 180-F. Smoke the turkey thighs for about 2 hours or until the internal temperature comes to 165-F on a digital thermometer.
- Let the thighs rest for 5 minutes before serving.
A Note on Nutritional Information
Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.