How To Smoke Chicken Quarters: The Art Of Smoking And Grilling

Smoking is quite a sumptuous way of preparing meat, especially chicken. Nobody can deny that this food preparation method is an ideal way to get the authentic flavor of your favorite poultry product. I even had to invest in smokers and barbecue grills so that I could do this myself!

Learning how to smoke chicken quarters should be your first lesson in the world of smoking. This particular recipe is easy to do and teaches you a lot about the basics of this particular cooking process.

Of course, as long as you have got the right tools and ingredients, you can achieve this recipe easily. It doesn’t require you to have a thorough knowledge of cooking. In fact, you need just a little attention to detail and you can convert your chicken quarters into smoke grilled perfection. 


How To Smoke Chicken Quarters

How To Smoke Chicken Quarters

I estimate that you can make this recipe in 1.5 hours. That doesn’t include the preparation time, which should take around 20 minutes or so. Despite these figures, smoking chicken quarters takes less time than drying meat.


  • Chicken quarters (8 pounds).
  • Water.
  • Salt (1 cup).
  • Sugar (1/2 cup).
  • Olive oil (1/4 cup).
  • Onion powder (2 tablespoons).
  • Cayenne pepper (2 tablespoons).
  • Paprika (2 teaspoons).
  • Garlic powder (2 teaspoons).
  • Black pepper (1 1/2 teaspoons).
  • Fruit wood (depending on your choice).



Some would consider this step to be optional. But for me, it is a necessary procedure that needs to be done every time you smoke meat products. The brine will allow the meat to suck up the moisture effectively. As a result, it becomes tender throughout the smoking process.

You can make brine by mixing sugar and salt in a pot of water. Just make sure they get dissolved by boiling, and then let the water cool down a bit. You can submerge your chicken quarters into the pot afterwards and keep the meat into the sweet and salt mixture for 5 to 6 hours to get the most out of it.

You have to brine the meat in a cold temperature (around 33 degrees Fahrenheit to 39 degrees Fahrenheit), so you can do this in your refrigerator. 

Does Brining Make The Meat Salty?

No, this should not be the case. If you have used the proper ratio of ingredients, the brine should give you an equal balance between sweetness and saltiness. The water content should be around 1 gallon. Add to this 1 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of sugar. You also need to rinse the chicken after the brining process to wash off any salt residue.

Seasoning Preparation

In a large bowl, mix all of the remaining ingredients. Make sure that you can stir the mixture thoroughly as it you will rub it on the chicken quarters. If you want your smoked chicken to have an extra spicy flavor, add some red pepper powder into the equation.

Once you are done with the rub, you can use it to coat your chicken quarters. You have to be thorough in this process, and make sure that all of the surface of the meat is covered. If necessary, coat the chicken quarters by hand to achieve the best result.

If the rub doesn’t stick too well on the surface of the meat, brush the olive oil on it first. Moreover, do not forget that you’ll have to put the rub under the skin of the meat as well. This will give your chicken quarters the most desirable taste and flavor. 


As this recipe involves smoking, it is recommended you use a smoker to cook this recipe (both the electric and gas variants are acceptable), rather than an oven. If you don’t have the equipment, you can use a barbecue grill instead. Just make sure that the meat is far from the heat source so as to prevent it from being fried.

Specifically, you should set the smoker to a temperature between 225 degrees and 240 degrees Fahrenheit. This will guarantee the optimal production of smoke and heat to cook your meat. This is also applicable to other types of smoked recipes, such as smoked pork loin


  • There are various kinds of fruit wood that you can use to “flavor” the smoke of the wood. It could be hickory, cherry, apple etc. You could also mix these fruit woods to create new and subtle accents. In my case, I typically use cherry, pecan, or apple wood, as they suit smoking chicken very well. This is because of their light smoke output.
  • When arranging the chicken quarters on the smoker racks, make sure there is an inch of space between them. This gap is necessary so that the smoke can rise up and cover the entire meat. Overlapping the chicken pieces, so that they touch one another, is not really recommended as it can cause uneven results with some of the meat being uncooked.
  • With this temperature, the meat should be smoked for around 1 hour to 1.5 hours. By that time, the temperature will drop down to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But, of course, the exact cooking time is dependent on several factors, such as the temperature that you are maintaining. Moreover, opening the smoker’s door constantly can speed up the smoking process.
  • It is quite difficult to estimate the temperatures here, unless your smoker comes with an internal thermometer. If this component is not present, then I really recommend that you invest in a food thermometer. This device is very helpful as you will no longer need to guess. 

Finishing Touches

After you have finished the smoking, take the chicken quarters out and let them cool down for a bit. Then, after 3 minutes, put them on a grill that is on a high heat so that the meat is directly heated. While you’re doing this, you can apply some barbecue sauce or any other condiment of your choice.

Make sure that the chicken skin does not get burned in this procedure. Once the temperature of the grill reaches between 165 degrees Fahrenheit and 170 degrees Fahrenheit, the grilling is done. Remove the chicken quarters and let them cool down. Now, you are allowed to eat them! Make sure that you eat with your friends and family so that you can fully enjoy this wonderful delicacy!

There are times when the skin of the chicken can feel “rubbery.” It is the bane of many grill food lovers. This is an issue that is quite difficult to tackle. But I can recommend a few things you should do so as to get a crispy bite when you tuck into your chicken. Here they are:

  • Grill the chicken after smoking.
  • Smoke at a very high temperatures (250 degrees Fahrenheit to 275 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Air-dry the meat in the refrigerator for several hours before seasoning it.
  • Submerge the chicken in hot grease.


Smoked chicken is a tasty and desirable recipe, and knowing how to smoke chicken quarters is a pleasurable thing to do. As you can see, the entire process is not that difficult. Once you have your fresh chicken and the right ingredients, creating this food is easy as one-two-three. In the long run, you will be able to smoke other meat types too!

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