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


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