Here is a winning technique for trimming chicken legs for competition barbecue. This method will save you time on your chicken prep.

Trimmed competition chicken legs.

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Chicken legs vs. thighs

For years now, teams have cooked chicken thighs in barbecue competitions because the dark meat is forgiving and stays juicy. But other chicken cuts like legs and wings have started to make a strong appearance.

Some teams switched from thighs because they were tired of trimming them and scraping the skins. The process is rather time consuming.

Other teams switched simply because they like the bite better.

On the West Coast, there is a group of pitmasters who cook legs regularly. They call themselves #teamsexylegs. And they get calls a lot!

So today, I’m going to show you one way to trim competition chicken legs in case you want to try them at your next competition.

This trimming method is a combination of techniques I learned from Reagan Broesche from La Pasadita BBQ and Sterling “Smitty” Smith from Loot N’ Booty BBQ. Both pitmasters have over 80 top ten calls in chicken.


How to trim competition chicken legs

  1. STEP ONE: To start, look for chicken legs that are medium in size. The whiter the skin, the better. Reagan recommends cooking organic, air-chilled legs.
Raw chicken leg.
  1. STEP TWO: Using a sharp pair of poultry shears, remove the top knuckle. If there are any bone shards, be sure to wipe them away with a paper towel.
Remove the top knuckle.
  1. STEP THREE: Next, flip the leg over and slide down the skin. You’ll notice a layer of silver skin and a tendon. Use a filet knife or boning knife to remove that.
PRO TIP: Removing the tendon will help prevent blow outs. 
  1. STEP FOUR: Look at the skin. If it has a thick build up of fat on the end, place your knife at a 45-degree angle and scrape the fat off and away from the skin.
Scrape the tip of the skin to remove excess fat.
  1. STEP FIVE: Pull the skin up and over the chicken leg. Now it’s ready for the brine and smoke.
Trimmed competition chicken leg.

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Hey BBQ Family

I’m Christie, the head cook and award-winning competitive pitmaster for Team Girls Can Grill. I have won multiple grand championships and top 10 category finishes. I’m an expert grill reviewer for BBQ Guys, and I have appeared on the Food Network and Ninja Woodfire Grill infomercials. I established this website in 2015 to share my BBQ tips and recipes.

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