Skip to Content

BBQ Chicken Thighs

These BBQ Chicken Thighs are a lightened up version of the familiar barbecue dish. Smoked chicken is doused in sugar free barbecue sauce, then smoked a second time for a bold smoky flavor this easy keto recipe.

Love easy chicken dinners? Our chicken salad recipe is not only gluten free, but sugar free too! And quite delicious. Or give our Lemon Garlic chicken recipe a try for dinner this week!

Stack of bbq chicken thighs with parsley on wooden cutting board.

Why This Chicken is Best

I love BBQ sauce on just about everything. But smoked chicken might just be my very favorite way to enjoy my homemade keto BBQ sauce.

Toss a few of these chicken thighs in the smoker, whip up your favorite side dishes and you’re ready to host a keto friendly BBQ dinner that tastes every bit as delicious as the sugar-laden versions.

Smoking the meat on a lower heat for more than two hours makes it moist, tender and as flavorful as can be.

  • Easy to prepare
  • Slow cooked in a smoker
  • Made with sugar free BBQ sauce
  • A healthier option for your next cookout!

Brush a little BBQ sauce on top and it becomes the perfect keto summer meal!

Ingredient Notes

Ingredients needed to make sugar free bbq chicken thighs.

There are 3 essential ingredients for amazing keto BBQ chicken.

  • Chicken thighs – The best part of the bird for smoking and slow cooking due to the higher fat content. Chicken wings and chicken legs will also work!
  • Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce – We use our homemade bbq sauce for best flavor; if you have a preferred store bought version you love, go ahead and use it in this recipe instead!
  • Apple cider vinegar – Thins the BBQ sauce to a glaze-like consistency. If you’re using our homemade sauce, there’s no need to add the apple cider vinegar.

Tips and Tricks

Step by step photos showing how to make bbq chicken thighs on a smoker.

Watch the temperature: The smoker should be set at 225 degrees F for the first hour of this recipe, then raised to 300 degrees F to finish cooking the chicken. It’s this combination of temperatures that results in chicken with a slightly smoky flavor; if you cook too long at the lower temperature your chicken will end up tasting overwhelmingly smoky.

Dunk or brush: Once the chicken thighs are fully cooked, you can use a basting brush to coat them in BBQ sauce or tongs to dip the thighs right into the sauce. Try to coat the chicken as thoroughly as possible.

Second smoke: After coating them with sauce, return the thighs to the smoker for another 30 minutes. The chicken will absorb the flavors of the sauce and develop a lightly charbroiled look on the outside.

Let rest before serving: Give your keto BBQ Chicken Thighs a good 10 minutes to rest after their journey in the smoker! The rest time allows the juices to settle for that irresistible, tender bite.

Serving Suggestions

Chicken thigh with bbq sauce being sliced open.

Serve this chicken hot with extra barbecue sauce on the side—and plenty of napkins. BBQ Chicken pairs well with a huge variety of side dishes, too.

Keep your backyard BBQ keto by serving this chicken with sides like Cucumber Tomato Salad or our Watermelon Feta Salad. Roasted Radishes are always a good choice as a keto swap for high carb potato sides.

Pass around these Sugar Free Yogurt Popsicles or a tray of Berry Crumb Bars and you’ve got all the makings of a perfect BBQ. No one will even miss the sugar. Of course some mason jar ice cream is also a perfect finish!

BBQ sauce slathered chicken thigh on smoker.

Recipe FAQs for Smoking Chicken

Should you use skinless or skin-on chicken for smoking?

You can use either, the key is just watching the internal temperature of the chicken.

How can I tell when chicken thighs are done?

Use an internal meat thermometer to get a reading on the internal temperature of the chicken. For this recipe, the chicken should reach an internal temperature of 185 F before you take it out of the smoker. Keep your thermometer nearby as the chicken cooks and check the meat regularly. The length of time it takes to smoke the chicken thighs will vary depending on your chicken size, your equipment and your environment.

Do you flip chicken thighs when smoking?

There’s no need to flip chicken thighs as they smoke. Unlike grilling or baking, smoking evenly distributes heat throughout the meat so both sides cook at the same time.

Can I make this recipe with an electric smoker?

Yes, this recipe works with both traditional charcoal and electric smokers!

Is Smoked BBQ Chicken keto?

Most BBQ chicken is not keto because barbecue sauce and rubs are often made with lots of sugar. We use a keto BBQ sauce instead to keep this recipe 100% keto approved, low carb and sugar free!

More Low Carb Dinners

These BBQ Chicken Thighs are a lightened up version of the familiar barbecue dish. Smoked chicken is doused in sugar free barbecue sauce, then smoked a second time for a bold smoky flavor this easy keto recipe.

Smoked BBQ Chicken Thighs

Yield: 10 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Additional Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

These BBQ Chicken Thighs are a lightened up version of the familiar barbecue dish. Smoked chicken is doused in sugar free barbecue sauce, then smoked a second time for a bold smoky flavor this easy keto recipe.


  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup sugar free bbq sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar


  1. Preheat smoker to 225 degrees F.
  2. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs. Place chicken on the smoker ad set timer for one hour.
  3. While the chicken is smoking, combine the bbq sauce with apple cider vinegar.
  4. After one hour, increase the temperature to 300 degrees F. Cook chicken for another hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 185 degrees F.
  5. Coat chicken in bbq glaze (dunk or use a brush). Return to the smoker and cook an additional 30 minutes. Remove from smoker and allow to rest 10 minutes.


  • If using our homemade sugar free bbq sauce, you can skip the apple cider vinegar. If using a store bought sugar free bbq sauce, you'll want to add the vinegar to create a thin glaze consistency.
  • Can also use chicken wings and chicken legs. Times will vary, but watch for an internal temperature of 185 degrees F.
  • See blog post for more recipe tips and tricks.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1 chicken thigh
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 362Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 513mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 21gProtein: 31g

Keto or not, you have to try these BBQ Chicken Thighs. Full of tangy, smoky flavor, this satisfying main course makes it easy to eat health—even at a summer barbecue!

Skip to Recipe