What could be better than a smoked chicken leg doused in a generous portion of fresh, herby chimichurri? These Traeger smoked chicken legs are the perfect crispy chicken drumsticks. They are made right on your pellet grill and are fresh, healthy, and full of flavor.
I love smoked chicken legs for a cheap & easy healthy dinner on our Traeger. I don’t always want to go the typical BBQ or Buffalo route, though–sometimes I want something different–something fresh and full of flavor.
Chimichurri is one of my favorite condiments. Now, I love to serve it with many different kinds of smoked or grilled proteins because of the brightness it brings to them. Made with a heap of fresh herbs, veggies, extra virgin olive oil, and some vinegar, it’s very easy and cheap to make this delicious condiment.
While traditional chimichurri does not usually contain cilantro, my version does. I add cilantro to mine because the first recipe I ever made for chimichurri also included it. That is the flavor I have grown to love, and I create my recipes to my tastes. I’m not trying to say I have created anything authentic here! 😉 But if you’re a cilantro lover like me, you’re going to love this.
This recipe involves very little hands-on time, and the cooking process on the pellet smoker imparts so much flavor and makes for tender, juicy meat!
Now let’s get to cooking!
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To make these Traeger smoked chicken legs, you need:
- Chicken Drumsticks – Get the best quality you can afford, and look for really meaty ones!
- Olive Oil – We will use some on our chicken legs, but also in the chimichurri.
- Dry Rub of Choice – This recipe is super simple using a premade rub of choice. I used Kinder’s buttery steakhouse, and we also love Kinder’s woodfired garlic. But you can use whatever you have!
- Herbs – Flat leaf parsley & cilantro. I use both for optimal flavor.
- Red Onion – Red onion gives a delicious bite. If you don’t like a strong onion, you can substitute a shallot.
- Jalapeno – You can omit if you don’t like spice.
- Red Wine Vinegar – This is the traditional vinegar used in chimichurri.
- Lime Juice – I like to add a bit of vibrant citrus flavor to my chimichurri sauce, and lime juice is perfect for that!
- Spices – Salt, black pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes
Follow the simple steps below to make tender, crispy Traeger smoked chicken legs.
1. Clean & Dry Chicken
Clean the chicken legs and pat the drumsticks dry with paper towels. Set each leg on a wire rack situated over a baking sheet and place in the fridge uncovered for 2 hours. This will give us crispy chicken skin.
2. Prep Herbs
While the chicken legs are drying in the fridge, prepare the chimichurri. Wash and dry the cilantro and parsley, then finely chop the herbs by hand with a knife (I do not recommend the food processor–my experience is the food processor makes the herbs bitter). Place chopped herbs in a small mixing bowl.
3. Dice Vegetables
De-seed the jalapeno and finely dice it along with the red onion into very small pieces. Mince the garlic cloves and add all of these things to the bowl of herbs. An easy way to do this is with a veggie chopper, but you can do it all with a sharp knife, too.
4. Prep Oil & Vinegar Mixture
Add the red wine vinegar, lime juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the bowl. Stir to combine. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until the chicken legs are done.
5. Preheat Traeger
Preheat your Traeger or other wood pellet grill temperature to 180 degrees F.
6. Season Chicken
While your Traeger preheats, remove chicken legs from the fridge and place on a cutting board or large platter. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the chicken legs and rub in evenly. Sprinkle the poultry rub seasoning over the legs and rub it in.
7. Put on Smoker
Put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of a drumstick. Place the chicken legs directly on the Traeger grill grates. Cook at 180F for 30 minutes.
8. Adjust Heat
Increase the Traeger temperature to a higher temperature of 350F. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the drumsticks reach an internal temperature of 175F.
These tender, juicy Traeger chicken legs have delicious golden brown crispy skin. Serve the Traeger smoked chicken legs with a generous portion of chimichurri for extra flavor. These are so smokey, yet fresh tasting. I just love this recipe!
Tips & Variations
There are all kinds of ways that you can adapt these to suit your preferences.
- Feel free to use chicken wings.
- Chicken breasts or thighs are also a great option. However, they have a different cooking time than chicken legs, so you shouldn’t try to use the same smoking instructions for them.
- For both chicken breasts and thighs, start with 30 minutes at 180F for a smokey flavor, then finish them at high heat (especially the breasts) to prevent them from drying out. You can go as high as 450 degrees F for 6-8 minutes, flipping once halfway through, and cook to an internal temp of 165F for breasts, 175F for dark meat, like thighs.
- Exchange the cilantro for more parsley if you’re not a cilantro fan.
- Tame down the spice by omitting the jalapeno and red pepper flakes.
- For milder onion flavor, use a shallot instead of a red onion.
I have an easy recipe for a smoked whole chicken, too, that would also go great with chimichurri!
This is a great recipe for a busy weekend. Get the chicken legs in the refrigerator to dry in the morning and whip up the chimichurri, then whenever you’re ready to eat you can just get them on the Traeger without too much fuss and have an easy meal ready in no time.
Check out my Traeger Pellet Grill recipe section for more Traeger recipes and inspiration!
This recipe makes about 5 servings. For one serving of this recipe, the nutritional info is as follows:
- Calories: 634 (this can be reduced by eating less than 1/5 of the batch of chimichurri)
- Protein: 44 grams
- Fat: 47 grams (can be reduced with less chimichurri)
- Carbs: 9 grams
Store leftover chicken legs in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The chicken legs reheat best in the air fryer for about 10 minutes at 350. The skin crisps right back up!
The chimichurri will last in a covered, refrigerated container for 3-4 days.
If you want another use for leftover chicken leg meat, try making my Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad! It’s a healthy & low-calorie way to eat leftover chicken.
The exact amount of time it takes for drumsticks to cook on the Traeger varies depending on temperature. For this recipe, we do 30 minutes at 180F to get some smokey flavor, and then 30 minutes at 350F to crisp up the skin.
You’ll Love these Smoked Chicken Legs!
I’d love to hear what you think of this recipe. Please leave a comment and review! It means the world!
Traeger Smoked Chicken Legs with Chimchurri
- 4 lbs chicken drumsticks
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp favorite poultry rub
- 1/2 bunch cilantro
- 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 jalapeno de-seeded
- 1/2 small red onion
- 5-6 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil more to taste
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- Clean the chicken drumsticks and pat dry with a paper towel. Set on a wire rack on a baking sheet and place in the fridge uncovered for 2 hours. This will help dry the skin for crispiness.
- Prepare the chimichurri. Wash and dry the cilantro and parsley, then finely chop the herbs by hand with a knife (I do not recommend the food processor). Place chopped herbs in a small mixing bowl.
- Finely dice the jalapeno pepper and the red onion into very small pieces. Mince the garlic cloves and add all the vegetables to the bowl of herbs.
- Add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lime juice, oregano, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the bowl. Stir to combine. Cover and store in the refrigerator until it's serving time.
- A little more than an hour before you're ready to eat, preheat your Traeger or other pellet grill to 180 degrees F.
- Remove chicken legs from the fridge and place on a cutting board or large platter. Drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil over the chicken legs and rub in evenly. Sprinkle the poultry rub seasoning over the legs and rub it in.
- Put a meat thermometer in your thickest drumstick. Place the chicken legs directly on the Traeger grill grates. Cook at 180F for 30 minutes.
- Increase the heat on the grill to 350F. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the drumsticks reach an internal temperature of 175F.
- Serve the chicken legs with a generous portion of chimichurri.