Smoking Chicken Drumsticks

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Smoked chicken drumsticks are one of the most popular things I cook in the smoker. My family goes nuts over them and they get gobbled up so quickly. Smoking chicken drumsticks could not be easier and almost any smoker can hold lots of drumsticks so it is easy to feed a crowd.

I used to wonder how long to smoke chicken drumsticks and I have found that it is good to give plenty of time because you do want to make sure that the drumsticks are tender, and you do not need to worry about the meat drying out like chicken breasts.

If you ever want to do a whole chicken you can check out my post here: How to Smoke a Whole Chicken

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Smoked chicken drumsticks have so much flavour on their own, but it is nice to also put some seasoning on them. There are so many different marinades and rubs that you can use on the chicken drumsticks. The options are endless really.

Here are a few different spice rub recipes that work great on chicken drumsticks: Steve’s Basic BBQ RubCurry in a Hurry RubIsland Spice Rub.

All of these spice rubs above work great, but you can also go on the more simple end and just season with salt and pepper.

For these, all I did was tossed the drumsticks in hot sauce and placed them in the fridge to marinate for an hour or so.

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

Take the chicken drumsticks out of the fridge and place them on the smoker rack. If you want you could add more seasoning or sauce on the chicken.

Preheat the smoker to 250F.

For wood, the nice thing about chicken is that almost any wood works to provide a nice flavoured chicken. Hickory, oak, maple and pecan all are excellent choices of wood, but my favourite wood for chicken are the fruit woods. Apple, cherry and peach are all excellent for smoking chicken and give the meat an awesome sweet smoky taste.

Once the smoker is at 250F place the chicken drumsticks in the smoker.

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks

I smoke the drumsticks for a good 2 1/2 hours. Chicken is fully cooked at 165F, but I find that drumsticks need to be cooked to a higher temperature. Usually, I smoke them until they reach at least 180F.

While the chicken drumsticks are delicious with a perfectly smoky flavour and tender and juicy meat, the one downside of smoking chicken is that the skin does not really crisp up. This is due to the fact that the lower temperature of the smoker does not allow the skin to be crispy.

How long to smoke chicken drumsticks

If you do really want the skin to be crispy, you can finish the chicken drumsticks on the grill. Heat the grill to high and then throw on the drumsticks. Watch them closely, and after a couple minutes turn them to crisp the other side.

If you want, you can also brush them with BBQ sauce or other sauce while they are grilling. Here are a couple of BBQ sauces that work well with smoked chicken: Dr. Pepper BBQ SauceGuinness BBQ Sauce.

Smoked Chicken Drumsticks Recipe - How long to smoke

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Smoked chicken drumsticks could not be easier with these simple instructions. for how long to smoke chicken drumsticks. This recipe works for traditional smokers, Bradley electric smokers and even kamado styles like the Big Green Egg.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 10 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce (Franks or some other brand)
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Mix hot sauce with the garlic powder and salt.
  • In a bowl, pour the mixture over the chicken drumsticks and toss until evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for one hour.
  • Fire up the smoker using wood of choice (I use apple usually). Get the temperature to 250F.
  • Place chicken drumsticks on a rack and place in the smoker. Smoke for about 2 1/2 hours. Smoke until the internal temperature of the chicken is 180F.
  • If desired, sear on a gas grill at high heat to crisp the skin.


Smoking Chicken Drumsticks

Did you try this recipe?

Leave a comment and let me know how it turned out. Or, take a picture to share on Instagram and tag me @theblackpeppercorn.

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  • Smoked chicken drumsticks are one of the most popular things I cook in the smoker. My family goes nuts over them and they get gobbled up so quickly. Smoking chicken drumsticks could not be easier and almost any smoker can hold lots of drumsticks so it is easy to feed a crowd.

  • Thank you Steve. I’m smoking chicken parts right now and stumbled in your site. I appreciate your recipe and the simplicity of your instructions. Like you, I’m a self-taught cook that loves to cook for family and friends. I’m using a dry rub that I made today- it’s basically 4 parts smoked paprika, 4 parts chili powder, 2 parts garlic powder, 1 part onion powder, 2 parts black pepper, 2 parts salt (optional),1 part cumin, 1 part cayenne pepper (adjust to taste), throw in 1 part Rosemary or thyme and or celery seed.

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  • I’m using your recipe now in my Kamado style grill. We are excited to see how this turns out. I also like to add corn on the cob during the last hour. The corn takes on the taste of what you are smoking.

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  • Thanks mate so much for your great advise and tips here. i am very new to this smoking thing, after my son gave me an offset smoker for my birthday nothing fancy just a few heat beads and some wood for smoking makes it work 🙂 ……………… my first attempt was a dismal fail LOL until i worked out the temp sensor on the unit was about 25c out at 100c (reading higher then it was). Today i followed your recipe for drumstick and WOW perfect and so yummy looking forward to moving on to bigger and better things now maybe even ham LOL

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    • So glad you enjoyed this recipe. While smoking does have a learning curve, I am sure that you will pick it up in no time. Good luck and if you ever have any smoking questions, feel free to ask! It is such a great way to cook. Spring is coming and I cannot wait to get back to smoking!!

      • Hey Steve I am going to try your recipe today. I am new to smoking and have been having issues with my smoker getting to hot. I have an Oklahoma Joe offset smoker. I am using a bag of regular charcoal to start it, then have a few logs I am going to add after. I also bought some apple wood chips to throw in once it’s started. Any advice on preference of charcoal/wood? I appreciate the help!

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  • Not a newbie, I been smokin’ fer forty years. The charcoal provides th heat, but the wood provides the taste.
    I prefer fruit woods like apple, cherry, and (believe it or not) maple. I’m not big on oak, pine is an absolute no-no. I’ve had pit smokers, upright, and others, but my best results came outta my offset smoker. U need an offset firebox to control your temp, and timing is up to you, based on internal temp. I have 3 smokers: a pellet smoker, a wood smoker, and an upright. I get my wood from nearby orchards, they typically trim the fruit trees back each spring, and hold the wood for me, at 3lbs. fer $10. I buy 30-40 lbs. at a time. If yer wise about usage you can make it last, sometimes I get two seasons out of it.

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  • Just an FYI, around BBW forums and amongst many experts in the field (Meathead Goldwyn for one) chicken with skin should be cooked at around 325-350F for crisping the skin, with a reverse sear if necessary.

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  • Here is my two cents. Start smoker, add 16 oz honey to a small tin pan, to that add 20 or so shakes of tabasco pepper sauce, then comes the drumsticks. smoke (your choise of wood type) for 30 min, roll each piece of chicken in the honey mix about every 20 min til reaches 180F . Enjoy!

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    • Oh by the way the honey mix is in the smoker too. With the drumsticks.

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