How to smoke chicken legs at home: recipes for salting, pickling, smoking

How to smoke chicken legs at home: recipes for salting, pickling, smoking

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Proper preparation is the key to a quality meal. Marinating chicken legs for smoking will not be difficult even for inexperienced cooks. If you follow fairly simple rules, you can get a great delicacy that will surely please all family members.

Features of smoking chicken legs at home

A distinctive feature of chicken is its culinary versatility. It is used for frying, stewing, baking and many other dishes. One of the most delicious ways to cook chicken meat is smoking. To get a truly delicious delicacy, it is worth remembering some of the features of the raw materials.

Smoked chicken legs are a real delicacy

Since chicken legs are most often used for smoking at home, it is important to remember to preserve the integrity of the skin during preparation and direct cooking. It will protect the meat from overly pungent smoke. Also, the legs in the process of heat treatment emit a fairly large amount of fat. To avoid the ignition of the chips, an additional baking sheet is made, where the fat container is placed.

Methods for smoking chicken legs

The most common method of preparing the delicacy is rapid smoking at high temperatures and prolonged exposure to smoke. In the first case, the legs are placed in a heated smokehouse and heat treated. Long-term cold smoking involves the use of more wood chips and a temperature not higher than 40 degrees.

Important! To smoke chicken legs, chips from fruit trees such as apple or cherry are best.

Common cooking methods can be supplemented to speed up production or improve flavor and appearance. For a brighter crust, you can use onion peels. A small amount of liquid smoke will add smoky flavor. If it is not possible to cook a delicacy in nature, you can try to make it an analogue at home - in a multicooker or airfryer.

Selection and preparation of chicken legs for smoking

The selection of quality ingredients is the key to the perfect meal. In modern supermarkets, chicken is most often sold chilled. Do not pay attention to frozen carcasses - their inspection is more difficult than fresh product.

Important! It is best to purchase several chicken carcasses and cut the legs from them yourself.

When choosing a product, the first thing they look at is its appearance and, if possible, the absence of foreign smell. The skin on the legs should be clean and uniform, without traces of mechanical damage. Particular attention is paid to the cut at the femur - winding gives too long storage. An important point is how well the chicken was plucked - the skin should be smooth without traces of feathers.

Quality chicken is the key to the perfect meal

The legs selected in the store must be prepared before smoking. It is necessary to remove oily nodules in the thighs - they are carefully cut with a knife so as not to damage the skin. If, upon examination, the remains of feathers are found, they are pulled out. The meat is washed in running water, dried with a towel and sent for salting.

How to marinate smoked legs

Preliminary preparation of raw materials necessarily includes salting to improve taste characteristics. Chicken legs can be marinated in a saucepan, barrel or plastic bag before smoking. As in the case of shish kebab, salting of meat is necessary to reveal the taste and improve consumer properties.

Important! The marinating time depends on the recipe used and can range from 30 minutes to 12 hours.

The simplest salting method includes a minimum set of components. Salt, onion, pepper and bay leaf help to reveal the natural chicken flavor. For more aromatic dishes, take various spices, juniper, or garlic. As with kebabs, you can use more gentle marinades - mayonnaise or tomato paste.

A simple recipe for marinating smoked legs

Often there are spontaneous decisions about making a chicken delicacy. In such cases, a fairly simple method of pickling will come to the rescue. You can prepare chicken legs for smoking by having the following ingredients:

  • 2 kg of chicken meat;
  • 1 kg of onions;
  • 2 tbsp. l. salt;
  • 1 tbsp. ground pepper;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 100 ml of table vinegar.

Onions, peppers and vinegar - a classic marinade for smoked legs

Onions are coarsely chopped and lightly crushed with your hands for better juice yield. It is mixed with vinegar, salt and seasonings. Put the meat in a saucepan with marinade, mix it thoroughly and put it in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. After that, it is washed in cold water and wiped dry with a paper towel.

Marinating smoked legs in mayonnaise with spices

Fans of more tender and at the same time spicy dishes will prefer another way of preparing chicken meat. Mayonnaise in combination with a lot of aromatic spices will make the legs incredibly tender and very tasty. The recipe will require:

  • 2 kg of chicken;
  • 300 ml mayonnaise;
  • 2 large onions;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper;
  • 1 tsp ground coriander;
  • 1 tsp suneli hops;
  • 4 tbsp. salt.

Mayonnaise enhances the taste and creates a golden brown crust upon further smoking

Chop the onions in a meat grinder and mix with the rest of the ingredients in a large saucepan. Legs are placed in the resulting mass for 4 hours for pickling. If there is not enough mayonnaise, you can use an ordinary package - a chicken is placed in it and poured with cooked marinade. It is best to store the workpiece in the refrigerator.

How to deliciously marinate chicken legs with juniper for smoking

For a more powerful scent, you can apply a secret ingredient. Juniper has been used for smoking for centuries. Its berries fill any dish with a unique aroma. To create a masterpiece you will need:

  • 5 kg of chicken legs;
  • 100 g of juniper berries;
  • 2 bay leaves;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper;
  • 2 tbsp. Sahara;
  • 1 cup salt
  • cinnamon on the tip of a knife.

Chicken legs with juniper have a unique coniferous aroma

Pour 5 liters of water into a large saucepan and bring it to a boil. Salt, sugar, seasonings and juniper berries are added to the bubbling liquid. The future marinade is boiled for about 10 minutes, then cooled to room temperature. Legs are placed in the liquid and oppression is placed on top. Marinating lasts about 6 hours in a cool place.

How to soak smoked legs in mineral water

Mineral water is often used to make homemade barbecue. In the case of smoking, it allows you to make chicken meat more tender and juicy. For 2 kg of chicken legs you will need:

  • 1 liter of mineral water;
  • 2 onions;
  • 10 peppercorns;
  • 2 tbsp. salt;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper;
  • 3 bay leaves.

Prolonged soaking of legs in mineral water is a guarantee of soft meat when smoking

First you need to make a marinade. Mineral water is boiled along with seasonings and salt for 10 minutes, then cooled. The onion is chopped in a meat grinder and mixed with chicken. The mass is poured with mineral water, oppression is placed on top and put in the refrigerator overnight.

Dry salting of chicken legs with seasonings for smoking

Unlike traditional pickling, using dry spiced salt is a little more difficult, even for an experienced chef. It is important to properly prepare the chicken. Its skin must be intact. It is recommended not to rub the place where the ham is cut with salt, otherwise the consumer characteristics of the meat may deteriorate significantly.

To prepare the mixture you will need:

  • 1 cup coarse salt
  • 5 bay leaves;
  • 30 peas of black pepper;
  • 1 tbsp. coriander;
  • 1 tbsp. hops suneli.

Dry salting of chicken legs is done very carefully.

Pepper and dry coriander are ground in a mortar. They are mixed with suneli hops and salt until smooth. The resulting mass is rubbed with chicken legs and left to marinate for about 4 hours. Immediately after that, the excess salt is scraped off, and the meat is washed in running water.

How to salt smoked chicken legs with garlic and spices

In order to obtain a more aromatic product with the dry method of salting, you can add a few chopped cloves of garlic and ground cloves to the mass. The taste of the finished dish will significantly improve compared to the traditional cooking method. For 100 g of salt you will need:

  • 1 head of garlic;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper;
  • 2 carnation buds;
  • 1 tsp ground coriander;
  • 2 bay leaves.

Garlic significantly improves the flavor of smoked legs

The spices are chopped as needed, mixed with salt and crushed garlic. To achieve maximum effect, the mixture must be uniform. The legs are rubbed with it and left for 4-5 hours before smoking. The mixture is then peeled off by rinsing the chicken in cool water.

Pickle with lemon for smoking chicken legs

Adding lemon juice to meat will make it juicier and softer. However, do not add too much, otherwise the legs will be heavily saturated with the aroma of citrus. The ideal consistency for brine would be:

  • 1 liter of water;
  • juice of one lemon;
  • 50 g of salt;
  • 1 tbsp. Sahara;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper.

Lemon juice adds a fruity flavor to the meat

All ingredients are combined in a small saucepan. If desired, you can add additional spices - coriander or suneli hops. The resulting marinade is poured over the legs and removed for 2 hours for pickling. Before proceeding with direct smoking, the chicken is washed and wiped dry.

How to marinate legs in tomato before smoking

Tomato juice or paste allows you to gently marinate the meat for further heat treatment. With this method of smoking, the legs are incredibly juicy and tasty. For 2 kg of the main product you will need:

  • 200 ml of tomato paste or 500 ml of juice;
  • 2 sprigs of thyme;
  • 50 g of salt;
  • 1 tsp ground pepper;
  • 4 bay leaves.

If tomato paste is used for the chicken legs recipe, it must be diluted with water

Tomato juice is mixed with salt, thyme and seasonings. The resulting mass is thoroughly lubricated with legs and left for 12 hours in the refrigerator. To enhance the aroma, you can add a few cloves of minced garlic.

How to smoke chicken legs

Whichever marinade or salting method is used, before starting smoking, you must thoroughly wash and dry the chicken. Barbecue lovers like to throw the product on the wire rack along with the remaining spices, but when smoked, such particles only spoil the finished dish. Very often they cause skin cracking.

Important! Legs must be completely dry before placing in the smoker. Some recipes allow you to grease them with oil or liquid smoke.

Wood chips are a prerequisite for smoking. It should be abundantly moistened to produce more smoke when smoked. It is not recommended to use softwood. An apple, pear or cherry tree is best suited for these purposes.

How to smoke chicken legs in a smokehouse

Before placing the appliance on the fire, it is necessary to pour several handfuls of soaked wood chips on the bottom. Then place the grate and drip tray. The chicken legs are either laid out on the next baking sheet or hung on special hooks. After that, the lid of the smoker is closed and placed on coals or on an open fire.

To calculate how long it takes to smoke chicken legs in the smokehouse, it is best to use a special temperature probe. One end of it is stuck deep into the leg, and the other is taken out of the smokehouse. As soon as the device shows the temperature inside the ham at 80 degrees, it means that it is completely baked.

Smoking chicken legs in a smokehouse on the grill

The convenience of a barbecue for preparing smoked delicacies can hardly be overestimated. By choosing the appropriate size of the smokehouse for convenient installation over the coals, you can easily control the heat and smoke generation process, thereby completely controlling the cooking of chicken legs. Since the width of barbecues is rarely more than 40, most often you will have to use miniature smokehouses or significantly increase the amount of coal.

Cooked-smoked chicken legs recipe

A wide range of deli meats is available on the shelves of supermarkets and regular stores. Most often, chicken legs in them are boiled and smoked - this technology of manufacturers can significantly reduce the time and labor costs for the final product. Moreover, factories often use liquid smoke, which is not recommended for home smoking.

The meat of boiled-smoked legs is more tender than in the classic recipe

Cooking boiled and smoked legs at home is slightly different from the traditional method. From the name it is easy to guess that the first stage of heat treatment is cooking. It is produced directly in pickling brine. Boiling lasts 5 minutes, then the chicken is taken out, dried and sent to the smokehouse until golden brown.

Smoking chicken legs with liquid smoke at home

It is rather difficult to imagine a situation when, having a smokehouse and a site on which it can be installed, you have to resort to chemical components. Liquid smoke replaces wetted wood chips. Given the rather powerful taste and aroma of the product, it should be used very carefully.

When the legs have been washed and dried after pickling, coat them with a thin layer of liquid smoke. A silicone brush works best for these purposes. The prepared product is placed in a smokehouse, which is put on fire. It takes so long to smoke chicken legs so that the meat inside is completely cooked. On medium heat, this takes 40 to 50 minutes.

Home-smoked chicken legs in mini-smokehouses

If there is no way to get out into nature, you can use modern culinary technologies and prepare a delicacy at home. Mini smokers are placed on a gas stove. A specially installed thermometer will allow you to control the temperature level, and the smoke removal system will not allow you to fill the kitchen with a pungent smell. A little wet chips are poured at the bottom of the device, the legs are hung on special hooks, after which the smokehouse is put on gas.

Recipe for smoking chicken legs in an airfryer

You can also cook a delicious delicacy using your usual kitchen equipment. The airfryer, popular with many housewives, can be easily turned into an impromptu smokehouse. To do this, a little moistened sawdust is poured onto the bottom of the device, after which the legs soaked in advance are loaded into it. The only problem can be a lot of smoke in the apartment, but in this case, you can use the balcony.

How much to smoke chicken legs

There is no clear answer to the question of the duration of the heat treatment in the smokehouse. Too many factors can affect the final smoking result - from the size and method of marinating the legs to the temperature in the appliance itself. The best method for determining whether a food is ready for use is a core temperature probe - it will accurately show the temperature inside the meat.

Important! You can use the traditional barbecue method of checking the condition of the legs - cut one of them with a knife to the bone and look at the color of the flesh.

40-50 minutes of hot smoking is enough for the chicken legs to be cooked

You can also determine the readiness of the chicken by the golden brown crust. At an average level of heat in the smokehouse, chicken legs begin to brown after 15-20 minutes. Therefore, 40-50 minutes of hot smoking will be more than enough time to get a great product and not burn it.

Storage rules

As a rule, the question of preserving smoked legs for future use is not worth it - the product is consumed immediately after preparation. Given the naturalness of the finished dish, its shelf life can rarely exceed 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator. The finished legs are wrapped in waxed paper and tied with a rope. For a longer period of preservation of consumer qualities, you can increase the amount of salt.


Marinating smoked legs is quite simple. With strict adherence to the cooking technology, you can be sure of the perfect final result. Even if it is not possible to install a real smokehouse, modern kitchen appliances will always come to the rescue.

Watch the video: SMOKING FOR THE FIRST TIME #masterbuilt