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What to Make with Chicken Thighs

November 9, 2020
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People don't often realize that the chicken breasts are not the part of the bird where you'll find the best flavor: it's in the chicken thighs.

Thigh meat is darker, fattier, and more flavorful. Whether you roast it, fry it, or grill it, you can look forward to an incredibly fulfilling dish!

Here, we go over three of our favorite chicken thigh recipes! Try one—or all—of these the next time you have some chicken thighs on hand!

How to Grill Chicken Thighs

For starters, we are going to give you some tips on how to grill chicken thighs. This cut of meat is particularly suited for the grill because of its extra skin and fat. These additions help keep the chicken thighs together when faced with high heats and keep the meat inside tender and juicy.

Before you start grilling, make sure your grill is clean and ready for use. Once this simple step is complete, it's time to get cooking!

Step 1: Dethaw Your Chicken

This step may not apply to you if your chicken has already thawed. However, before proceeding, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Be sure that your chicken thighs have thawed out entirely. Grilling chicken that is even slightly icy will prevent it from cooking all the way through, which can lead to sickness and unpleasant tastes. 
  • Rinse thawed chicken thighs under cold water. 
  • Pat them dry

Once you successfully dethawed your chicken, move onto the next step.

Step 2: Pick Your Seasonings

During this step, you have the freedom to choose which seasonings sound best to you! Don't be afraid to experiment a little with what you have.

Some of the more popular combinations you can try are:

  • Salt and pepper – the ole’ stand-by. ;) This combination is something you likely have on hand and are always great seasoning options. 
  • Garlic – whether you have fresh garlic or a powdered form, garlic will quickly add a robust flavor to your chicken.
  • Other herbs and spices – BBQ, Italian, Zesty and fresh...there are so many different combinations you can try, so pick out some of your favorites and give them a go!

Adding thick layers of seasonings during this stage will help create a crisp exterior when you grill them.

To help your seasonings stick and help with the crisping process, it is usually a good idea to lightly coat the chicken thighs with some butter or even olive oil. When you go to grill them, these coatings will caramelize and will help to hold in all those yummy flavors.

Once you have all of your seasonings on, it is time to take them to the grill and get started on one of our fantastic chicken recipes!

Step 3: Grill the Chicken Thighs

When you're ready to grill the chicken thighs, start by heating the grill. With any chicken, you must cook it to an interior temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is the safest because, at that level, the heat destroys any potential bacteria, making the chicken safe for you to eat.

As a good rule of thumb, your grill should be at a medium-low temperature. This temperature range will allow the chicken to cook all the way through, producing a crispy outside and juicy inside. If the temperature is too hot, you're going to get a charred exterior and dry meat.

When you choose to grill your bone-in chicken thighs, or boneless skinless chicken thighs, you will need some patience. Typically, this cut of meat is going to take approximately 45 minutes to cook thoroughly. Allow this time to get the most out of the meat and have the best final product possible.

NOTE: We recommend using a meat thermometer to take the guesswork out of determining when they are safely cooked.

Once done, go ahead and remove them from the hot grill and place them on a clean plate. Let them sit for about ten minutes to ensure that all of the juices settle and distribute throughout the meat. After that, try and cut into one of the thicker pieces to make sure that it has fully cooked.

Note: If you see any pink or veiny sections, go ahead and put them all back on the grill for another 5 to 10 minutes to avoid the risk of getting sick.

Step 4: Add Your Favorite Sauces (Optional)

Grilled chicken thighs with some BBQ sauce or other sweet sauces are the perfect meal for a cookout.

If you would like to add some sauces to your chicken, the easiest way to do it is by using a culinary brush to paint it on to each chicken thigh. Adding these sauces is a surefire way to add those lasting flavors that everyone is going to enjoy.

When it comes down to sauces, feel free to buy pre-made options from the store, or if you're feeling up for it, make your own from scratch!

If you’re in the Roanoke, Indiana area make sure to visit our farm store for local artisan BBQ sauces that are all High-Fructose Corn syrup- FREE.

Step 5: Pair with Your Favorite Sides

While everyone will love the tasty chicken, it is always best to pair it with some sides to complete the whole meal.

If you are going for the BBQ feel, adding some baked beans, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw on the side is a great option. Any of these sides will pair nicely with your grilled chicken thighs. 

Now, make a plate and enjoy! 

How to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Oven

Roasted chicken thighs are one of the most popular ways to cook this cut of meat, and we assure you that there is a reason this method is on the top of many people's lists! Here are the top three reasons:

  1. Baked chicken thighs are easy to make. 
  2. They are always incredibly tasty. 
  3. Oven cooked meals are almost always easy to clean.

With this recipe, you can cook your entire meal with only one pan, making it an efficient meal to prepare and clean. Continue reading for some great tips on how you can prepare a delicious home-cooked meal all in the oven!

Step 1: Prep Your Chicken Thighs

Baked chicken thighs make for a beautiful meal, but there are some tips you should know to cook them properly.

Again, make sure that your chicken thighs have thawed entirely before cooking. It is always the safest option and will protect you from consuming uncooked meat. Then, you will want to wash and pat the skins dry so that the seasonings will have a solid surface to stick on!

For this meal, we recommend using seasonings with intense aromas and a collection of herbs and spices. As you roast the chicken, those flavors will come out even stronger and seep into the meat – we assure you, everyone will love these baked chicken thighs!

Once you have finished seasoning, select a dish that has deep enough sides so that your chicken will be surrounded and have some protection from the heat of the oven.

Step 2: Grease Your Dish

Next, you will want to grease the dish you have selected so that your baked chicken thighs will not stick to the sides. You can use a cooking spray or brush the pan with olive oil. The choice is yours, depending on your cooking preferences.

Step 3: Add in the Chicken Thighs

After all sides of the dish are entirely coated, you can carefully add in your chicken thighs. Leave a little bit of room in between them so that they can cook evenly and place them with the seasoned side up.

For that extra crisp that we all love, you can also brush some more olive oil on to the top. It will help the skins to crisp up and make the exterior crunchy and flavorful with every bite.

Make sure to leave enough room around the chicken, as we will be adding in some extra ingredients in the next steps! If you have to, you can always use an extra sheet pan for cooking the remaining ingredients.

Step 4: Chop Up Some Veggies

Baked chicken thighs are a healthy and hearty meal on their own, but creating a lovely oven roast, complete with roasted veggies, is a great pairing. In fact, this is one of our favorite chicken thigh recipes!

Once you have finished prepping your chicken, put it off to the side for a few and go ahead and select some of your favorite veggies for roasting.

Our favorite vegetables for roasting with a chicken recipe include:

  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Potatoes
  • Garlic

These veggies are flavorful on their own. When cooked in the oven with the chicken, they will gather some of the chicken aroma and flavor. It's a match made in heaven. Once you have made your selections, chop all of them into bite-sized pieces and place them into a large bowl.

To make sure that all of the veggies crisp up nice and evenly, coat them lightly with olive oil and then mix them up so that each piece has some oil on it.

You can then add those veggies to either your pan with chicken in it so that you only have to use one pan or to a separate sheet pan if you want them to be extra crunchy. 

If you choose to go with the sheet pan option, it is best to leave a little room and scatter all of the veggies around. This arrangement will help to make sure they cook evenly and acquire that perfect crisp!

Step 5: Throw it All in the Oven!

Preheat your oven anywhere from 375°F - 425°F. Make sure it is up to your desired temperature before you place everything inside.

Baked chicken thighs can take some time to cook, especially since the bone is still in the meat. Leave them in the oven for 35-40 minutes before checking on them.

Ready to cook the veggies? Here's how:

  • Option 1: Adding the veggies into the same pan as the chicken thighs will likely increase the time it takes to cook everything. If, however, you choose to cook them on a sheet pan, you can place them in a few minutes before you put the chicken in as they will usually take a little longer to cook.
  • Option 2: You can also use your slow cooker! If you are going to be out of the house for the entire day and want a yummy and hearty meal to come home to, the slow cooker is always a great backup plan.

Using a slow cooker will give you the same results as an oven and will free you up from having to watch it while it cooks. You can set it to a medium-low setting and put both the chicken thighs and veggies in for hours at a time.

Step 6: Take Everything Out of the Oven

Like with the grilled instructions, baked chicken thighs will need a few minutes to stand before you cut into them. It will allow all of the juices to settle and help you make sure that it has cooked all the way through when you eat them.

Now, you can prepare your plate with a healthy combination of roasted veggies and some baked chicken thighs and enjoy your fantastic, home-cooked meal!

How to Cook Chicken Thighs in a Pan

While baked chicken thighs are among the more popular dishes, many people fail to remember that you can also cook them on the stovetop in a pan!

As with other recipes and meats, pan-frying is an excellent technique to get the skins nice and crispy before you go to enjoy them. Here are some simple steps to follow if you choose to cook your chicken thighs in a pan.

Step 1: Season the Chicken Thighs

As with the other two methods, make sure to season your boneless skinless chicken thighs! For this recipe, you have the freedom to choose whatever you like, and you won't need a lot of them to get the flavor you are looking for with the pan fry method.

Go ahead and finish up with the seasonings and then set them to the side. Now, it is time to prep your pan.

Step 2: Prep the Cast Iron Skillet

You can use any pan you have on hand, but we will focus on the cast iron skillets. These pans are great for so many reasons and are a great way to cook your chicken thighs.

As with the other methods, you will want to make sure to grease your pan so that the chicken does not get stuck at any time during the cooking process. For this step, you can use either oil or butter, depending on the type of flavor you enjoy.

Butter is very rich and will infuse the skin of the chicken. However, oil works well in making the outside crisp and capturing the flavor of the seasonings. Ultimately, the choice is up to you!

Place your prepped cast iron skillet on the stovetop and set the burner to a medium temperature. You need to make sure that the oil does not get too hot or will quickly charr your chicken. A medium temperature is always a safe bet and will give you the desired finished product.

Step 3: Place Your Chicken Thighs in the Pan

Be very careful during this step as the oil can splatter if you drop in the chicken thighs. Slowly and carefully lay each chicken thigh into the pan and let the cooking process begin!

Unlike the other cooking methods, you will have to monitor the thighs to make sure they are cooking correctly and not getting too charred early in the cooking process.

You are also going to have to flip them halfway through so that both sides have the chance to cook. Usually, at around the 15-20-minute mark, you can go ahead and flip them and allow them to cook for another 15-20 minutes before you remove them from the heat.

Step 4: Prepare Your Side Dishes

While your chicken is cooling, you can go ahead and prep your side in the same cast-iron skillet – again using only one pan! For this recipe, we recommend cooking some fresh green beans to serve alongside the chicken thighs.

Add a little bit more oil or butter to the pan, and then place your freshly washed green beans in as well. These will not take very long to cook, and it is up to you on how you want them to look and taste!

Step 5: Enjoy!

Now that you have cooked everything, go ahead and make your plate! Enjoy this wonderful meal!

Conclusion

Whether you choose to grill, bake, or pan-fry your chicken thighs, we guarantee that you will love the finished product.

There are so many chicken thigh recipes to choose from, and these are just some of the many ways you can prepare this versatile meal. We hope that you have some fun experimenting in the kitchen with these tasty chicken recipes!

Catherine Hitzfield

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