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Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Great blend of sweet, smoky, and a bit of heat. These are the perfect entrée for a day by the pool; they won’t heat up your kitchen on a hot day and don’t need much attention. First up, the prep:

About 8-12 chicken drumsticks

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

2 Tbsp poultry seasoning

2 Tbsp cumin

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp cayenne

2 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

Oil for drizzling

Combine all the rub ingredients (everything except chicken and oil) in a bowl. Brush a thin coat of oil on the chicken. I like a silicone pastry brush for this job. Works just as well as traditional bristles but cleans up easier and more sanitary. Now take your rub and, well… rub it on the chicken (someone smarter than I definitely came up with the word rub, it makes too much sense). Don’t be afraid to pack it on there. When you’re done, cover in foil and refrigerate overnight.

Next day, fire up your smoker to 225 degrees and load with wood chips. I like to use applewood for these since it’s a subtle and sweet. You could definitely use cherry or oak though. As for smokers, I use a masterbuilt electric smoker. Electric smokers are easy to use and this one is relatively affordable and has lasted for years (and I’m not easy on it). I do however want to try pellet smokers in the future with a hopper so I don't have to refill during cook time.

Once at temperature throw in the drumsticks and cook at least 4 hours but no more than 8. While this is cooking it’s the perfect time to grab a cold beverage and relax poolside. Your only job now is to refill the wood chips when needed (for my smoker it’s roughly every 2 hours but consult your own). Let rest for 10 minutes or so before serving. I like to serve my smoked Gouda and spinach Mac n cheese on the side along with some grilled veggies. This time I did a rice dish instead for variety.

Optionally, although they are delicious as is, you can add bbq sauce in the last 20 min of cooking for nice caramelization. Dinosaur BBQ‘s “Wango Tango” is the best I have found for this meal with the perfect sweet and spicy combo (although I may be slightly biased growing up so close to Syracuse NY where they started). You can also serve it as a condiment on the table along with the drumsticks instead of adding during cooking. I’ve tried both ways, both are amazing.

What Should We Smoke Next?

  • Brisket

  • Smoked gouda and bacon mac n' cheese

  • Ribs

Other ideas, thoughts, etc

  1. For the real spice lovers out there (ie my wife and step dad) I use cayenne olive oil to brush the chicken with and do 1 Tbsp cayenne in the rub.

  2. Could use chicken quarters or thighs as well, just may need to adjust cook times.

  3. USDA “safe” internal temp is 165 for chicken cooking. In theory you can, however, cook chicken to lower temperatures (even as low as 145, although I don’t think I’d like it that rare) as long as it is maintained there for a significant amount of time. Use this knowledge at your own discretion as you will.

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