Smoked Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Smoked Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

  • Servings: 4
  • Preparation: 20 Minutes
  • Cook Time: ~1 hour
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1.5 lbs. total)
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, sliced thin + fronds coarsely chopped
  • 1 c basil leaves, torn if large
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (for marinade)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (for fennel salad)
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ⅓ c extra-virgin olive oil (for marinade)
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil (for fennel salad)
  • 6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • ¼ c chopped cornichons (9 total)
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil (for oiling grill grates)


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, grated garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons of black pepper until well blended.

2. Slowly add in ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, whisking constantly until the marinade is emulsified.

3. Transfer half of your mixture into a small bowl and set aside. (You will use this in a moment to make the dressing).

4. Next, season the chicken thighs all over with salt, and place them in a bowl with one half of the marinade mixture. Turn the thighs to coat them well. Then, let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes (or cover the bowl and chill it in the fridge for up to 4 hours) to soak up the mustard-y marinade.

5. With the remaining ½ of the mixture, you are going to make a dressing. Whisk in the mayonnaise and cornichons until well-blended. Add a pinch of salt to taste and set aside.

6. Slice brioche buns in half.

Cooking Instructions

1. Fire up your Vida by PADERNO Smart Pellet Grill to 225 degrees.

2. Place chicken thighs in the smoker.

3. Smoke for about 1 hour or until a digital thermometer inserted at the thickest part reads 165º.

4. Transfer thighs to a platter and let them rest for at least 5 minutes.

5. While the thighs are resting, toast your brioche buns until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. Transfer to the platter with chicken.

6. In a medium bowl, toss together the sliced fennel, chopped fennel fronds, basil, 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil, and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to combine. Then season with salt and pepper.

7. Spread the reserved dressing across the cut sides of your toasted brioche buns.

8. Assemble the sandwiches with buns, chicken, and fennel salad.

9. Serve & enjoy!

RECIPE TIPS: Just a few notes on how to marinade chicken thighs.

  • Unlike beef, which can sit and soak in marinades for extended periods of time (6 to 24 hours), chicken thighs are not as tough, and do better with a shorter marinade (30 minutes to 4 hours max).
  • When chicken spends too much time marinating, it can make it tougher. The acid within the marinade will affect the protein strands within the meat and mess with its texture.
  • Chicken thighs are a little fattier than chicken breasts. Which means they will hold their moisture a little better, even if they are cooked longer. This makes chicken thighs a great pairing with bold, assertive marinades and sauces.