Nashville Smoked Chicken Legs

It’s time to spice up some yard bird and throw him on the smoker. What I love about them chicken legs is that they come with a handle which makes for easy eating!

Brine the Chicken

I’m sure many of you have used a brine to tenderize birds before, and this isn’t any different.

Add those legs to cold water and a mix of spices including salt, cloves and dried rosemary. Let this set in the icebox for at least 6 hours, but you can even go overnight.

When you remove the legs from the bath, be sure to pat them dry. This will help the seasoning stick better and help that skin cook.

Smoke Flavor

I’m doing this recipe on our Pit Barrel Cooker, but you can do it on any type of grill or smoker. If you are using a grill, be sure to move all the coals to one side and place the legs on the indirect side of the heat.

I’m starting off with good oak hardwood lump charcoal. When those get good and white, I like to toss in some alder wood and mesquite wood chips. However, feel free to add any wood combination you’d like for some good smoke flavor.


Spicy Marinade

While those legs are smoking, let’s go ahead and mix up the marinade. The base of this is your favorite hot sauce, but I do like some Crystal’s if you can find it. Let is come to a low boil for a few minutes, stirring constantly

After the legs have smoked for about 30 minutes, give them a flip. Continue smoking for an additional 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. But be sure to flip and baste about every 4 minutes while it finishes.

After you remove them from the smoker, be sure to cover with tinfoil and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving which will raise that internal temperature.



Nashville Hot Smoked Chicken Legs - Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 50 minutes
Servings 8 legs


  • 8 cups iced water
  • ½ tablespoon cloves
  • ½ tablespoon allspice
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 ½ tablespoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Red River Ranch Mesquite Seasoning or seasoning of your suiting
  • 8 chicken legs
  • ½ cup hot sauce
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 teaspoons dry yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dark corn syrup
  • 4 garlic cloves minced


  1. Add the water to a large bowl. Stir in the cloves, allspice, rosemary, salt and cayenne. Add the legs, cover and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the grill or smoker to about 240 to 250 degrees F. I started with oak hardwood lump charcoal. Then, I added a heaping handful of alder wood chunks and a couple handfuls of mesquite chips. Feel free to use any wood combination you prefer. If you’re using a grill place the coals to one side for indirect heat.

  3. Remove the chicken from the brine and set on a wire rack. Pat dry with a paper towel which will help make for a crispier crust. Season generously with the Mesquite seasoning (, or your favorite all-purpose seasoning.

  4. Place the legs on the grill/smoker. If using a grill, place the legs on the indirect side of the heat. Close the lid and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, onion powder, brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a low boil for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic cloves.
  6. Flip the legs and baste with the sauce. Continue cooking for 20 more minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F. Be sure and baste and flip the legs about every 4 minutes.

  7. Remove from the smoker and cover with tin foil and let rest for about 10 minutes. Serve warm.

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