posted December 13, 2021
Bourbon Glazed Smoked Chicken Quarters
These smoky, juicy chicken quarters are seasoned with my Signature Sweet Rub, slow-smoked, and then basted in a bourbon glaze that is simple to make but packs a flavor punch.
What are Chicken Quarters?
Let’s have a quick chicken anatomy lesson before we begin, shall we? A chicken quarter is comprised of the drumstick, thigh, and part of the back of the chicken all in one piece. It’s everything you love in a kid-friendly drumstick combined with the tender and juicy chicken thigh.
Chicken quarters are a great dinner option if you’re looking for a cheap, yet filling meal. You can often find chicken quarters at a reasonable price at the store because it’s less work for the butcher to keep the drumstick and thigh together (less processing means less cost for you!).
Once you have your amazingly affordable chicken quarters purchased and ready to go, this recipe will help you smoke them to perfection and add lots of good BBQ flavor.
Smoked Chicken Quarters
There are plenty of ways you can cook chicken quarters, but my favorite way to prepare them is in the smoker slathered in a perfect BBQ glaze. Lighter woods like apple, cherry, or pecan work well with this chicken (and most chicken recipes, in my opinion), as they do not overpower the flavor of the meat and lend a nice smoky hint of flavor.
The final touch to making these chicken quarters better than all the rest is in the bourbon glaze. Bourbon was practically made for smoked chicken, and with layers of bourbon whiskey, citrus, and spice, you’ll be using this glaze on more than just these chicken quarters.
How to Smoke Chicken Quarters
It doesn’t get much easier than these quarters, so let’s walk through the process of how to smoke chicken quarters with little fuss. For a detailed recipe card, including ingredients amounts and nutritional information, scroll to the bottom of this post.
- Prep. Turn on the smoker and allow it to preheat to 275 degrees. Trim excess fat and gristle off the chicken quarters. Drizzle with olive oil, and season liberally with Sweet Rub. This rub can be made from scratch using my recipe for Best Sweet Rub, or you can save yourself the prep time and order a bottle or 2-pound bag of Sweet Rub from the Hey Grill Hey Store.
- Smoke. Place the seasoned chicken quarters directly on the grill grates of the smoker, close the lid, and smoke until the meat reaches 165 degrees F.
- Glaze. While the chicken is smoking, make the glaze (detailed instructions in the recipe card below). Brush the glaze on the chicken once it hits 165 degrees F.
- Finish Smoking. Allow the glazed chicken to smoke until the internal temperature taken in the thickest part of the meat reads 175 degrees F.
- Serve. Allow the meat to rest and cool for a few minutes before serving with extra glaze.
These chicken quarters make the perfect stress-free weekday dinner. They’re easy and kid-friendly too!
How Long to Smoke Chicken Quarters
The time it takes to smoke chicken quarters will likely vary a bit depending on the consistency of your grill temperature, and the size of the chicken quarters. Plan on anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to smoke your quarters.
This recipe calls for an initial smoke time, then a bit of additional time in the smoker after they have been glazed to tighten up the sauce and bring the temperature of the meat up to 175 degrees F. Rather than focusing on the clock to cook this chicken, use a meat thermometer and remove the chicken when it has reached the target temperature.
Tips for Making Smoked Chicken Quarters
Here are some tips for ensuring your chicken comes off the smoker full of flavor.
- Cook quarters to 175 degrees F. For white meat, like breasts and tenderloins, you don’t want to cook over 165, but for dark meat, like quarters, 175 is ideal for juicy chicken that has a great mouthfeel and pulls away from the bone. Make sure you have a quality instant-read thermometer so you’re not guessing at temperatures.
- Make the glaze ahead of time. If you’re trying to plan ahead, the glaze can be made several days in advance. Once finished, the glaze should last at least a week in the fridge for you to pull out and use on the chicken quarters. It would also work delightfully drizzled on a pulled pork sandwich, wings, pork belly, and more!
- Keep your eyes peeled at the butcher counter. Chicken quarters are often one of the most affordable cuts of meat you can buy. Since they are very simple for your meat cutter to prep and less in demand than breasts, you can often score a sweet deal on quarters. However, because they are less in demand, they aren’t always available. I check for quarters every time I walk through the meat department and snag a pack to freeze when they are on sale.
More Smoked Chicken Recipes
When it comes to cooking chicken, I’m of the opinion that smoked chicken reigns supreme. Add in a good glaze or BBQ sauce, and you have a meal that is simple, yet completely satisfying. For more delicious smoked chicken recipes from Hey Grill Hey, check out these popular suggestions below.
Best Smoked Chicken Quarters Recipe
Now, is it fair to say that this is the best smoked chicken quarters recipe out there? I think yes. They’re everything you could ever want from a recipe. They’re inexpensive, easy, juicy, and flavorful to boot. What more are you waiting for? Get on this recipe right now!
Bourbon Glazed Smoked Chicken Quarters
- 3 pounds chicken quarters
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 Tablespoons Hey Grill Hey Sweet Rub (recipe in notes section)
- 1 ½ cups bourbon whiskey
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup fig preserves
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup orange juice
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon garlic (grated)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons Franks' RedHot Sauce
- ¼ cup cold butter (cubed into small pieces)
- salt (to taste)
- Preheat. Preheat your smoker to 275 degrees F. Apple, cherry, pecan, or maple wood would all work well with this recipe.
- Prep and season. Trim any excess pieces of fat, gristle, or overhanging meat from the chicken quarters. Drizzle with olive oil and season on all sides with the Sweet Rub.
- Smoke. Place the chicken quarters on the smoker and close the lid. Smoke until the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. This can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken quarters.
- Make the glaze. While the chicken quarters smoke, prepare your glaze. Put the whisky in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat and simmer until the whiskey is reduced by half (about 5 minutes). Add all other glaze ingredients, except the butter, to the pan and whisk often, and reduce it until it reached your desired thickness. The glaze should be slightly thicker than syrup, but thinner than BBQ sauce.
- Add the butter. Pour the glaze into a blender and begin blending on slow. Add the cubed butter to the glaze a few pieces at a time and blend until smooth. Divide the glaze so you've got about 1 cup for basting and the rest for serving alongside your chicken.
- Finish smoking. Baste your chicken quarters in the bourbon glaze and continue smoking until the chicken reaches 175 degrees F.
- Serve. Remove the chicken quarters to a serving dish. Rest for 5 minutes and serve with the reserved bourbon glaze.
join the grill squad
Looking to up your BBQ game and become the ultimate backyard BBQ hero? Join my members-only group, The Grill Squad, for full access to my master classes, podcasts, and so much more! For a one-time payment of $89.99, you’ll join an amazing community of grillers that will help support you as you feed the people you love.
Join the Grill Squad