Today’s top 20 chicken thigh recipes are going to transform chicken thighs into five-star delicacies. All from the comfort of your kitchen!
You won’t need any fancy equipment and long hours standing in the kitchen either. These recipes are as straightforward and simple as they get.
So, without much ceremony, let’s get to know more about this chicken cut.
Everything You Need to Know About Chicken Thighs
From a chicken leg, you get 2 separate cuts: the chicken thigh, and the chicken drumstick.
Chicken thighs are the top part of the chicken leg where it connects to the body. The drumstick is right below the thigh, making the calf part of the leg.
1. Are They White or Dark Meat?
Now, though chicken is generally white meat, the chicken leg is referred to as dark meat. This is because of its slightly darker tinge, which turns even darker when cooked.
The fun part is chicken thighs and drumsticks tend to be juicier, especially compared to chicken breast! They contain more fat and— as a result— more flavor.
However, for these same reasons, chicken thighs often get a bad rep.
2. Are They Healthy?
More fat = more calories, and if you’re looking to lose weight, you may want to keep the distance. Chicken breasts are a better option for weight loss diets since they’re lean meat.
Don’t rule chicken thighs out, however. They contain more nutrients, minerals, and healthy fats compared to chicken breasts.
Therefore, chicken thighs can be included in a healthy diet. That said, let’s take a look at some of the healthiest meals out there using thighs.
It’s an Oven Affair: Baked Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Chicken and Rice Casserole. Our chicken casserole is a sure way to get a cozy night started. Casseroles are synonymous with comfort, ease, and undeniable flavor, and this chicken and rice dish fits the bill!
- Healthy Chicken Shawarma. The traditional method for prepping chicken Shawarma is to use a rotating skewer. But, unless you have a large industrial roaster at home, we suggest you bake your chicken— the result is just as tasty.
- Crispy Baked Thighs. Fancy some crunch along with flavor? Coating chicken thighs with a simple spice mix will get you a juicy weeknight dinner in 45 minutes.
- Easy Baked Thighs. If “four ingredients” doesn’t spell out E-A-S-Y, we don’t know what will! These baked chicken are as simplistic as it gets, thanks to a simple salt, pepper, and paprika seasoning.
- Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs. Honey and mustard is a timeless combination that gets us salivating. Couple that with a 5-ingredient list that makes these chicken really easy.
The Pot Cooked It: Instant Pot Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Instant Pot Thighs (Fresh or Frozen). Queue in the instant pot. With an accessory that’ll handle almost the entire cook for you, all you have to do is choose your best paprika, garlic, and parsley seasonings and expect an irresistible chicken thighs result.
- Instant Pot Lemon Chicken with Garlic. Combine the ease of using an instant pot and the zesty mix of garlic and lemon, and you get this irresistible chicken recipe!
- Instant Pot Greek Chicken Thighs. You can tell by the simple ingredients list and 35-minute cook, that this recipe is an expert mix of quick and healthy. And what better way to bring Greek flavors into your home than with a tasty olive and tomato dish?
- Smoky Instant Pot. We don’t know about you, but we love a dash of smoky paprika to spice things up! With this recipe, you get juicy chicken thighs gushing out irresistible flavors with every single bite.
- Honey Sesame Instant Pot. Dark and saucy is the theme of these gorgeous chicken thighs. But looks make up for only half of the joy you’ll discover once you bite into these!
Easy Breezy Lemon Squeezy: Air Fryer Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. An air fryer is one of our most recommended kitchen accessories. Even with no fancy relishes, it takes thighs from plain to succulent within 20 minutes.
- Air Fryer Fried Chicken. Fried chicken with no cooking oil whatsoever? Count us in! These chicken thighs bring a whole new meaning to healthy fried chicken using the ole egg-flour batter for a crispy finish.
- Healthy Air Fryer Chicken and Veggies. Talk about an easy dinner with this chicken and veggie dish. How can 20 minutes of sitting back— legs kicked up— serve a fabulous family dinner? You’ll have to find out!
- Air Fryer Lemon Pepper. All Paleo and Whole 30 dieters are going to love this clean version of thighs. With a tangy lemon and garlic edge to drive the flavors home, we have no doubt this dish will become a healthy regular.
- Air Fryer Chicken and Broccoli. Weeknight meals just got much tastier with this chicken thigh and broccoli dish. Of course, you can make batches to store for weekly affairs with this dish— where you can revisit it and get things heated before indulging.
Picnic & Party Favorites: Grilled Chicken Thigh Recipes
- Grilled Chicken Salad. Grilled chicken and barbecues go hand in hand. This dish makes a perfect aide for picnics and parties, where you put in the least work to get maximum flavor.
- Honey Sriracha Grilled. This classic sweet and spicy chicken dish could be what you need for a spontaneous evening. With readily available ingredients, you can transform regular elements into an unforgettable dining experience.
- Juicy Grilled Chicken Thighs. They say less is more. With a 2-ingredient marinade, you have an easy way to get the most out of these grilled thighs.
- Balsamic Chicken Thighs. This herb-infused chicken may take a while to marinate, but it’s well worth the wait. Every second enriches the chicken thighs with balsamic and coconut flavors that’ll leave you drooling over this dish.
- Yogurt-Marinated Chicken Thighs. Garlic, ginger, and yogurt are the elements that turn this simple dish from boring to exciting. By the time the thighs soak up these glorious flavors, you’ll have a creamy succulent dish that’s begging to be served!
How Long to Bake?
You can bake chicken thighs for anywhere between 25-60 minutes— it mainly depends on what temperature you set the oven to. We have an article that explains how long to bake chicken, which also gives details for various cuts.
In summary, you can set the oven temperature to 300°F and expect to wait for 55-60 minutes while the chicken thighs roast. Or, if you’re in a hurry, you can crank the temperature up to 450°F, giving you a quick 25-30 minute cook.
The only caution is to avoid overcooking it. As much as it’s naturally plump and juicy, overcooking will result in a dryer piece of chicken that’s not as satisfying to bite into.
How Long to Boil Chicken Thighs?
Boiling is a simple way to cook chicken thighs. It comes in handy when you’re looking for effortless ways to get chicken ready.
The best way to boil chicken thighs is to boil the water before actually adding in the thighs. Some would argue that this is poaching, which is also accurate in this case.
After adding the chicken lower the temperature to a simmer and leave it to cook. For bone in chicken, 45 minutes should suffice, while for boneless chicken it will take 25-30 minutes.
You can tell it’s ready when the internal temperature reaches 170°F or when the flesh is no longer pink.
How to Debone?
From the outside looking in, deboning chicken thighs might seem like a challenging task. We’re here to reassure you that it’s not.
Here are a few steps that will have you opting for the less costly bone-in chicken thighs the next time you go grocery shopping.
Step 1: Place the chicken thigh onto a cutting board, with the skin side down so that you can see the bone.
Step 2: Cut vertically— from top to bottom— as close as you can to the bone without cutting too deep on both sides. Ensure to include the cartilage at the top and bottom of the bone.
Step 3: Make incisions under the bone and pull the chicken flesh from the bone. Scrape any excess flesh remaining on the bone.
Chicken Thigh Calories
So the difference in calories is not that big, and both score points in the healthy column.
If weight loss is the name of your game, we suggest you stick to skinless chicken thighs. This way, you get the best of both worlds with juicy chicken flavor and plenty of protein.
The same 5-ounce chicken thigh, without skin, contains 29.3 grams of protein, which is a pretty large portion.
It’s not as much as the protein found in chicken breasts (31.8 grams). However, it provides more than 16-50% of the required amount of protein on a 2000-calorie diet.
So if chicken breasts happen to be missing from the grocery poultry section, or you just feel like having a juicier piece of meat, go ahead and select chicken thighs. They’ll be just as good for helping you stay satiated and building some muscle while working out.
If these recipes got you craving some more chicken, check out our list of 50 healthy chicken recipes. A collection of delicious and diverse dishes!