Frozen to Fabulous Smoky Grilled Chicken Thighs on the Pellet Grill

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By, Paul Sidoriak

Grilled chicken thighs displayed on a cutting board

I love cooking chicken thighs on the pellet grill, but often forget to defrost them in time for dinner. Here, I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs straight from the freezer and have found a method that makes them flavorful and delicious every time I cook them.

Frozen, raw chicken thigh being dunked in a dressing.


6 boneless skinless frozen chicken thighs

1 cup Olive Garden Salad Dressing or a similar vinegar based dressing

Code3Spices 5-0 rub or your favorite seasoning

Serves 3-4


Preheat your pellet grill to about 275F. Dunk the both sides of the chicken thighs in your favorite vinegar based salad dressing and put them directly on the pellet grill. I seem to have Olive Garden dressing on hand and use it frequently as it works well. Now sprinkle the dunked chicken thighs with your Code3Spices 5-0 rub or your favorite seasoning rub and set a timer for 30 minutes.

Chicken thighs being cooked on a grill.

After the thighs cook for 30 minutes, head back to your grill and give them a second dunk. You will notice the chicken has defrosted and is cooking nicely and picking up some smoke. Set the timer for 30 minutes again and let the thighs slowly continue to cook.

Chicken thighs on the grill with some jalapenos and onions.

When it is time to go back to the pellet grill, raise the temperature to as high as it will go. Give the chicken thighs a third dunk and set your timer for 10-15 minutes depending how quickly your grill’s temperature will climb.

At this point, the chicken is cooked but still a bit mushy. I love dark chicken meat to be firm and even a little crispy on the exterior. Continue cooking for an additional 15-20 minutes checking every 5 minutes or so to make sure they don’t burn.

I have really pushed the envelope with this recipe, cooking at 275 for as long as 90 minutes and then finishing at high heat to my desired doneness. When you dunk the chicken in the salad dressing something magic happens and the chicken stays relatively moist even if you cook it quite well done.

Grilled Chicken Thighs on a platter with grilled onions and jalapenos

You are left with a wonderful blank canvas of options on how to enjoy the chicken thighs. Sometimes I will chop them up into small pieces and make tacos or nachos. Cubed, this chicken is delicious in pasta, but will also make an amazing chicken salad that has a smoky flavor making you want another bite.


Paul Sidoriak runs the website and can most often be found on Instagram at his page @GrillingMontana. He is the author of the cookbook Exclusively Kamado with 50 Innovative Recipes for your Ceramic Grill and Smoker and has a book coming out in May 2018 about outdoor cooking on the griddle grill called The Flippin’ Awesome Backyard Griddle Grill Cookbook.



Susie is the BBQ Brain behind the Hey Grill Hey website. Her passion for smoked meats and developing fun, new recipes have landed her on the Food Network, cooking turkeys with Shaq, and on a couple of Guinness World Records. When she’s not grilling, she is hanging out with Todd and their three kids, preferably outdoors!

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