Smoked Spicy Korean Gochujang Chicken Legs

let me spill the beans on why these smoked spicy gochujang chicken legs are my absolute jam. First off, they’re like little flavor bombs waiting to explode in your mouth. You take a bite, and it’s a tasty party happening right there.

But here’s the kicker: they won’t break the bank. Chicken legs are the budget-friendly heroes of the protein world.

Why You Will Love The Recipe

These chicken legs are, hands down, a flavor explosion waiting to happen. We’re talking juicy, tender meat that practically melts in your mouth, thanks to a smokin’ session that infuses every bite with that unmistakable barbecue goodness.

Then comes the gochujang baste – it’s like a party for your taste buds, with sweet, savory, and just the right amount of spicy vibes all mingling together. It’s the kind of taste that’ll have you closing your eyes and savoring each bite, maybe even doing a little happy dance.

Let’s not forget that these chicken legs are the real MVPs of affordable eats. It’s the meal that tastes like it belongs in a fancy restaurant but won’t make your wallet cry.

With just a handful of everyday ingredients, including the budget-friendly chicken legs themselves, you’re treating yourself to a gourmet experience without the gourmet price tag.

Smoked gochujang chicken legs on a dark plate.

In a world where eating out can get seriously expensive, this recipe is your secret weapon for satisfying your cravings without splurging.

Now, what’s even better? The fact that making these chicken legs is a breeze. Seriously, it’s like a kitchen shortcut to culinary greatness.

You don’t need a crazy long grocery list or a marathon cooking session. The marinade practically mixes itself, and grilling is about as straightforward as it gets. Plus, you’ve got the option to jazz things up with garnishes like sesame seeds, green onions, and cilantro, adding that personal touch without any extra fuss.

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So, whether you’re a seasoned chef or just dipping your toes into the cooking game, this recipe’s got you covered. It’s the ultimate combo of incredible taste, budget-friendliness, and kitchen simplicity – all rolled into one delicious package that’s ready to make your taste buds sing.

Ingredients Needed

These ingredients work together to create the irresistible flavor profile of these smoked, gochujang-basted chicken legs, offering a delightful blend of sweet, savory, spicy, and smoky notes.


  • Chicken legs


  • Gochujang: Adds a bold, slightly sweet, and fiery kick to the marinade with distinctive Asian flavors.
  • Soy sauce: Contributes savory, umami-rich depth to the marinade with a touch of saltiness.
  • Mirin: Provides sweetness and a hint of complexity to balance the flavors.
  • Sugar: Enhances the caramelization of the chicken while providing the necessary sweetness.
  • Sesame oil: Lends a nutty, aromatic quality to the marinade.
  • Garlic (minced): Infuses the marinade with pungent, aromatic notes, adding depth and richness.
  • Ginger (optional): Introduces a zesty, slightly spicy, and earthy note to the marinade, enhancing complexity.

Garnish (Optional):

  • Green onions (sliced thin): Provides a fresh, slightly sharp contrast to the rich, smoky flavors, adding color and crunch.
  • Cilantro (chopped): Complements the dish with a fresh, herbaceous aroma and vibrant, citrusy flavor.
  • Sesame seeds: Adds pleasing crunch and a toasty, nutty note to elevate presentation and taste.

How To Make Smoked Spicy Korean Gochujang Chicken Legs

  • Prep the chicken legs by piercing the skin with a meat tenderizer. This will allow the marinade to get in there as well as getting that ‘bite through’ skin.


This step is optional. The skin will still be crispy as we’re cooking it at a higher temperature.

A chicken leg showing that the skin has been pierced with a meat tenderizer.
  • Add all the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine. Divide the marinade in half, reserving it for basting the chicken legs while they cook and smoke. Coat each drumstick in the marinade, making sure all sides are covered.
A gochujang marinade in a silver mixing bowl.
Marinated chicken legs on a cooling rack ready to go onto the smoker.
Use a foil-lined baking sheet and cooling rack for an easier cleanup.
  • Place the chicken legs over indirect heat at 350 degrees F. Add your preferred wood. I used cherry wood. Any fruit wood works great with poultry. After 15 minutes, start basting the chicken legs every 10 minutes or so.
Chicken legs just put into the smoker.
Chicken legs smoking on a smoker.
  • When the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, increase the heat to 400 degrees F and continue to cook and baste until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F.

    By now, you should have some good caramelization. If not, continue to cook. You can also place them over direct heat. Those legs will remain super juicy up to 200 degrees internal temperature!
Gochujang chicken legs in the smoker.
  • Remove from the smoker and serve immediately with your favorite garnishes. We went for some thinly sliced green onions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.
Smoked gochujang chicken legs on a dark plate.

You know what makes these chicken legs so awesome? They’re the life of the party, no matter the occasion. Perfect for a laid-back backyard barbecue, friends hanging out on the patio, or a cozy family dinner around the table. These chicken legs are the star of the show, and they bring that irresistible “wow” factor every time.

Now, let’s talk about how versatile these bad boys are. Kids dig ’em, adults can’t resist ’em – they’re a crowd-pleaser through and through. So whether you’re watching the game, throwing a picnic, or just chilling with loved ones, these chicken legs are your trusty sidekick.

Smoked gochujang chicken legs on a dark plate.

And here’s the kicker: they make you look like a cooking pro without the sweat and tears. With just a handful of everyday ingredients and simple steps, you’re whipping up a dish that tastes like it belongs in a fancy restaurant. It’s all about celebrating the joy of easy, delicious cooking, where everyone gets to enjoy the meal without the fuss.

So, what are you waiting for? Fire up that grill, invite your favorite folks over, and get ready to savor a meal that’s more than just food – it’s a whole vibe. These smoked, gochujang-basted chicken legs are a tasty tango, where every bite is a party waiting to happen.

Cheers to good times, great food, and even better company!


  • Marinade Magic: For maximum flavor, consider marinating the chicken legs for at least 2-4 hours or even overnight in the fridge before grilling. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat thoroughly, resulting in a richer and more satisfying taste.
  • Char is Key: To achieve that mouthwatering charred exterior and smoky flavor, don’t rush the grilling process. Start with indirect heat to cook the chicken legs through, and then finish them over direct heat to get that perfect grill mark and caramelization. Keep a close eye to avoid overcooking.
  • Safety First: Always ensure that the chicken legs reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. Invest in a reliable meat thermometer to accurately gauge doneness. Once they hit this temperature, feel free to increase the heat to add some char and extra flavor.


  • Korean BBQ Twist: Elevate the Korean flavors by adding a tablespoon of Korean red pepper flakes (gochugaru) to the marinade for an extra kick of heat and smokiness. You can also sprinkle some toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions on top before serving for an authentic Korean BBQ experience.
  • Smoky Chipotle Kick: For a smoky, southwestern twist, substitute the gochujang with chipotle pepper in adobo sauce in the marinade. The chipotle brings a deep, smoky flavor with a touch of heat. Top the grilled chicken legs with crumbled queso fresco and chopped fresh cilantro for that classic Tex-Mex appeal.
  • Garlic and Lemon Zest: Infuse your chicken legs with a burst of Mediterranean flavors by replacing the gochujang with a mixture of minced garlic and lemon zest in the marinade. This combination offers a bright, zesty profile that pairs beautifully with grilled meats. Finish it off with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh oregano or thyme for a Mediterranean-inspired dish.

Other Tasty Chicken Recipes

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Smoked Spicy Korean Gochujang Chicken Legs

Discover the irresistible world of smoked, gochujang-basted chicken legs – a flavor-packed, budget-friendly delight for every occasion!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: barbecue, Main, Main Dish
Cuisine: Korean
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Servings: 8
Calories: 396kcal


  • 8 Chicken legs 8-10 chicken legs
  • 1/2 cup Gochujang
  • 1/4 cup Soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Mirin
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Sesame oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic minced, 1 tbsp
  • 1 tbsp Ginger Optional


  • Green onions Sliced thin
  • Cilantro Chopped
  • Sesame seeds


  • Prep the chicken legs by piercing the skin with a meat tenderizer (optional).
    8 Chicken legs
  • Combine the gochujang, soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, and (optiona) ginger together in a mixing bowl. Whisk well to combine.
    1/2 cup Gochujang, 1/4 cup Soy sauce, 1/4 cup Mirin, 1/4 cup Sugar, 1/4 cup Sesame oil, 4 cloves Garlic, 1 tbsp Ginger
  • Divide in half, reserving for basting the chicken legs while their cooking.
  • Coat each drumstick in the marinade making sure to cover all sides.
  • Preheat the grill (smoker, Weber, etc) to 350 degrees F.
  • Place the chicken legs directly on the grill grates over indirect heat. Optionally, you can place them on a cooling rack then in the grill/ smoker for easier handling.
  • After 15 minutes, begin to coat the chicken with the reserved marinade every 5-10 minutes.
  • When the chicken reaches doneness (165 F), increase the heat and continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. You can also place the chicken over direct heat to get some char on the chicken (recommended).
  • Remove from the grill and serve!
  • Optionally, garnish with sesame seeds, sliced green onion, and cilantro.
    Green onions, Cilantro, Sesame seeds


Store them in an airtight container or wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
Leftover chicken legs should ideally be consumed within 3-4 days when stored in the refrigerator. Beyond this timeframe, their quality may start to degrade.


Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 11g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 573mg | Potassium: 350mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 153IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

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