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a close-up of a cooked, sauced competition chicken thigh on slate

Competition Chicken Thighs

I've studied the best pitmasters to learn how they cook competition thighs. I've attended BBQ school. And now, I'm sharing what I've learned to help you create winning competition chicken thighs.
Recipe from GirlsCanGrill.com
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 9


  • 9 chicken thighs skin on
  • 1/4 cup Christie Vanover's Chicken Rub
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth for mini method
  • 1/2 cup Moore's Marinade for regular method
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce
  • kosher salt


Trim The Thighs

  • Peel the skin from the top of the thigh, leaving part of it attached. Scrape off any fat that is still stuck on the top of the thigh.
  • Flip the thigh over. Using shears, cut off the knuckle. Square up the ends with a knife.
  • Using scissors and a knife, trim out the fat pocket and vein near the bone, and trim off any extra fat.
  • Using a sharp knife at a 45-degree angle, gently scrape the fat from the underside of the skin.
  • Fold the skin back on top of the thigh. It should wrap around the meat like a present. If there is excess skin, trim it off.


  • Season the chicken on all sides with Chicken Rub, both under and on top of the skin.
  • Fold the skin back around the meat, focusing on appearance.

Mini Loaf Pan Method

  • Heat your smoker to 275-300F degrees.
  • Place two teaspoons of chicken broth into each cavity of the mini loaf pan. Add a thin sliver of butter (about 1 teaspoon) to each cavity.
  • Place the seasoned chicken in the molds, skin-side down. Top with another thin slice of butter.
  • Smoke over indirect heat for 1 hour and 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cook.
  • Using seafood forks, carefully flip the thighs over. Place them in the pan skin-side up. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
  • Smoke 45 minutes, rotating halfway through.

Regular Loaf Pan Method

  • Place 1-2 tablespoons marinade and 2 pats of butter in a 2-pound aluminum loaf pan. Add 3-4 chicken thighs to each pan, skin side up. Repeat with 3-4 pans.
  • Smoke at 275F for 45 minutes.
  • Cover with aluminum foil, and cook for 20 more minutes.

Setting the Sauce

  • Remove the thighs from the pan and set aside.
  • In a shallow bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the pan juices with 1/2 cup barbecue sauce and a pinch of salt.
  • Dunk each thigh into the sauce, and place on a baking rack.
  • Return to the smoker for 10 minutes to set the sauce.
  • Dunk in the sauce again. Box and turn-in.


Calories: 371kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 372mg | Potassium: 288mg | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 490IU | Vitamin C: 0.9mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1.5mg