Poor Man’s Cupcake BBQ Chicken Thighs

I love to watch BBQ shows.  I watch them whenever I can.  Heck, I think I have 5 different BBQ shows set to record on my Tivo.  My wife doesn’t watch them with me but it’s cool, she isn’t a BBQ ninja like me.  One of the best things I love about BBQ shows are the different ways that competitors cook their BBQ.  I have to say the most intriguing to me, was watching Diva Q on BBQ Crawl.  She made these amazing shaped chicken thighs but the clip was so short, I couldn’t see how she did it.  Then she called it cupcake chicken so I had to do some research.  Let me tell you, that research paid off………….

This is one easy way to smoked chicken thighs that everyone will love.  If they don’t love them, then you have permission to unfriend them on facebook, divorce them if you are married, or fart in their face if they are anything else.  A sneaky ninja will give them a crop dust for not loving cupcake chicken.

Step 1.

Heat your smoker to 275 degrees.

Step 2.

Take an old cupcake pan and drill a single hole (about a quarter of inch) in the center of each cupcake mold.  I used an old one I had laying in the cabinet.  Doesn’t it look pretty?


Step 3.

Remove your chicken from the brine (you did brine your chicken right?)  If you need a brine, use mine!


Step 4.

I wasn’t able to take pictures of the next step due to my hands being messy and I am a one ninja team at the moment.  You want to use poultry shears or if you are cheap like me, I have a pair of tin snips that I use for chicken, and cut the knuckles off the thigh.  There will be one on each end of the bone.  Take your time and remove any bone fragments from the meat.  Then trim the excess fat off the skin and meat of each thigh until the pieces are 3 to 4 inches wide, leaving about 1/4 inch of excess skin at the edges of the meat.  I like to remove the skin completely and put rub on the top of the chicken thigh.  Then I put the skin back on and wrap it around the thigh.

Here is how they look all trimmed and wrapped up.


Step 5.

In the cupcake mold, place each thigh, skin side down, in an individual cup. Sit the mold in a baking pan, and pour the chicken broth into the pan, being careful not to pour it directly on top of the chicken. Top the thighs with a dab of butter.  Place the pan in the smoker and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.


Here they are on my smoker.  I also brined and smoked some chicken legs to take to work for lunch this week.


After the hour and a half, this is how they will look.


Step 6.

Remove the baking pan from the smoker. Gently flip the thighs onto the baking sheet. Season the tops of the thighs with BBQ rub. Return the thighs to the mold cups, skin side up, and put the baking pan back in the smoker. Cook for 45 minutes.  This is how they look after you flip them over.  They were about 140 degrees at this point.  Not much color yet.


Step 7.

Remove the pan from the smoker, and unmold the chicken thighs onto the baking sheet, skin side up. Brush the thighs lightly with your favorite BBQ sauce. Place the baking sheet in the smoker and cook for 30 minutes to allow the sauce to caramelize into the chicken skin.


After 30 minutes, they should look like this.


Serve immediately.   I won’t win a place on chopped for plating but this was my dinner.


Cupcake BBQ Chicken Thighs

What you need!!!!

Poultry shears
1 silicone cupcake mold, with holes punched through each cup (or an aluminum cupcake pan, also with holes punched through each cup)
1 13 x 9-inch aluminum baking pan
1 aluminum baking sheet

Chicken Thighs
Chicken Broth
BBQ Sauce


Chicken Brine

When you BBQ, you are always striving to get the most flavor that you can out of your meat.  One way to accomplish this is by using a brine.  Brine is a salt water solution that will add moisture to your meat.  No one likes a dry piece of chicken, and I mean no one likes a dry piece of chicken.  So say to yourself, I brine my meat!  I brine my meat!  I briiiiiiinnnnneeee my meeeeaaaattt!  Rawr!  Most brine recipes will use a gallon of water.  When I make my brine, I am usually forgetful and have to make it last minute which quite frankly, sucks balls.  So lets move to making the ultimate and easy chicken brine.

Take eight cups of water (half a gallon) and put it in your pot and get it to almost boil.  Add 1 cup of kosher salt, 1/2 half cup of sugar, and my secret all in one brine ingredient……..1/4 cup of Tony’s Cajun seasoning.  Yes, Cajun seasoning and guess what, this is all you ever need for chicken.  Right before the water starts to boil, all of these ingredients should have dissolved.  Take the pot off the stove and add eight cups (half a gallon) of cold water to your brine and then stir.  If you are in a hurry like I am most of the time, you can use 6 or 7 cups and fill the pot with ice so it quickly cools.

Once your brine is cold, you can add your chicken.  I wouldn’t brine more than 24 hours or it will be too salty.  The minimum I try to brine for is 2 hours but overnight is best.


That’s my brine right after I took it off the heat.  Bask in it’s chicken moisturizing glory!


Chicken Brine
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Tony’s Cajun Seasoning
1 gallon of water

Mix all together and bring almost to a boil and stir till it dissolves.  Let it cool and brine your chicken for at least 2 hours up to 24 hours.

Weekly Menu 7/13 – 7/19

This week is going to be a good week.  I will be using the grill on Sunday and Friday, then for next Sunday I was able to score a 8lb pork shoulder for .99 cents a pound.  We’ll be having pulled pork next Sunday and pork sloppy joes for Monday and who knows what else I can make from this one cut of meat.  Rawr.



Cupcake Chicken Thighs
Baked Potatoes
Green Beans


Tacos and Rice


Pasta Carbonara
Garlic Bread




Baked Pork Loin
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Brussel Sprouts


Grilled Chili Cheese Dogs
Baked Fries
Baked Green Bean Fries


Pizza on the Blackstone Pizza Oven

Weekly Menu 7/6 – 7/12

My daughter is visiting for the summer so I have been pretty busy.  Unfortunately, these keeps me away from all of my amazing cooking ideas to post.  Now you end up with these short posts.


Anyway here is the menu I used last week.



Mongolian Beef and Fried Rice




Garlic Bread


Sloppy Joes
Tater Tots


Leftover Night!


Sliced Turkey and Gravy served over rice


Bubba Burgers and Brats on the grill
Baked cajun fries