Smoky and savory, these Smoked Teriyaki Chicken Legs are so delicious!
After an overnight marinade (or shorter) in soy sauce, honey and garlic these drumsticks are smoked on a wood pellet grill to pick up even more amazing flavor.
They are sweet and smoky and oh so juicy!
I am notorious for buying appliances for cooking and then never using them - I'm talking to you pasta attachment that I just had to have.
Determined to not let our Traeger wood pellet smoker be another one of those appliances, I have made a commitment to try and use it weekly.
Well, let me tell you, if everything turns out as amazing as these Teriyaki Smoked Chicken Legs, using it weekly is going to be easy and delicious!
So, thrilled my success with these Traeger chicken legs, that I'm making beer can chicken next week - stay tuned for the recipe.
Ingredients for teriyaki marinade.
I decided to go for a simple teriyaki marinade for the drumsticks.
Teriyaki marinades run from very simple to those with lots of other ingredients. Some include garlic, some ginger.
Reading through some Japanese cookbooks, I settled on the very basic, very simple formula of equal parts soy sauce, sake and mirin with sugar to taste.
I was able to find sake at our local liquor store and mirin at the grocery store, if you have an Asian market, that's even better!
If you're wondering where my usual ingredients photo is, I wasn't planning on blogging these, since it was the first time making them. I did start to take photos after mixing up the marinade because I thought, what if they come out amazing? Good thing, because they were amazing!
Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag, I did 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup sake, 1/2 cup mirin and 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Add the drumsticks to the bag and turn the bag to get them all coated. I used 10 chicken legs, but you could probably go as high as 14 with this amount of marinade.
Place in a glass casserole dish (in case of leaks) and refrigerate overnight if possible. I flipped them over once in the morning. If you can't marinate overnight at least try for a few hours in the fridge.
About an hour before you are ready to smoke your chicken legs, take them out of the fridge to come to room temperature.
Preheat your Traeger (or whatever wood pellet grill you have) to 180 degrees.
Choosing wood pellets for smoking.
Note - I usually use whatever wood pellets I have on hand. This article by Traeger - Wood Pellet Flavor Guide - gives a good explanation of the flavor of the pellets and what proteins they go good with.
When the grill is ready, remove the chicken legs from the marinade and either place them directly on the grill or in a leg/thigh grill rack. This was my first time using this rack and I loved it (link in recipe card!)
Smoke the chicken for 1 hour.
After an hour, raise the temperature to 350 degrees and cook for 30-45 more minutes or until the chicken is 165 degrees. Mine took 30 minutes.
Take them off the smoker and let them rest for 15 minutes before serving.
These were the best thing I've ever grilled/smoked! Just look at that even color!
My husband scoffed when he saw the chicken leg/wing rack when I bought it, but it made the best chicken legs! No turning, not flare ups, perfectly, even cooked.
These were sweet, smoky and juicy. The best smoked chicken legs!
I'm going to try a few different marinades, so check back for more recipes!
**As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Smoked Teriyaki Chicken Legs
- 10 chicken legs
- Combine the soy sauce, sake, mirin and sugar in a large ziplock bag. Smoosh it around to dissolve the sugar.
- Place the chicken legs in the bag and marinate in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.
- About 30 minutes before you are ready to smoke, preheat your smoker to 180 and remove the legs from the refrigerator.
- If using a rack, place legs on it. Otherwise place the legs directly on the grill rack.
- Smoke for 1 hour. If legs are directly on the grill, turn them over after 30 minutes.
- Turn grill up to 350 and grill for 30-45 more minutes or until legs reach 165 degrees. Turning them once if they are directly on the grill rack.
- Let rest for 15 minutes.