15 Tips For Cooking With Chicken Thighs
Light-tasting and packed with protein and flavor, chicken is the preferred meat for many people. And while chicken breasts are the first option for a vast majority due to the protein and fat ratio, chicken thighs have something to offer in terms of nutrition, flavor, and texture. According to Healthline, a 100-gram serving of chicken thighs has 209 calories and 26 grams of protein. However, chicken thighs are considered dark meat because of the high myoglobin amount, a consequence of being active muscles. In addition, myoglobin is the substance responsible for the taste of chicken thighs.
If you are making a recipe that requires more flavor or a longer cooking time, you should opt for thighs, not breasts, as these tend to dry out. Always make sure that chicken meat is cooked through, as you risk becoming infected with bacteria otherwise. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 165 degrees Fahrenheit is the safe internal temperature for any chicken meat. Here are some tips for cooking with chicken thighs to help amp up the flavor in your dishes.
Buy chicken thighs with skin for added flavor
Chicken thighs with skin are an excellent choice for anyone looking to add flavor and nutrition to their meals. The skin helps keep the chicken moist and juicy while providing essential fats and nutrients. The fat in the skin also helps to give the chicken a rich flavor that is lacking when cooking with chicken breasts, for instance. If you want your dish to soak up aromas, use skin-covered chicken thighs to render a better taste.
The skin provides an extra layer of nutrition as it contains unsaturated fats, protein, and glycine (via Proactive Health Labs). Not only do chicken thighs with skin provide more flavor and nutritional value than chicken breasts, but they are also much cheaper. However, if you still want to avoid eating the skin on chicken thighs, at least try cooking them with the skin on. Take the skin off only after cooking because the nutrients in the skin are retained in the dish during cooking, and you will get all the good things this cut of meat has to offer.
Learn to debone chicken thighs and save money
Learning how to debone chicken thighs is a skill that requires patience and practice. However, it’s worth knowing how to do this for several reasons. It will save you money, add nutritional value to your dish, and allow you to be more creative in the kitchen, as deboning and dicing the chicken thighs yourself means that you can use them in more recipes.
Deboning chicken thighs requires a sharp knife, cutting board, and paper towels. First, use the knife to cut into the top, beginning at the joint between the thigh and the drumstick. Next, carefully slice down along one side of the bone until you reach the bottom of it. Then cut around it, keeping the knife near the bone until all the meat has been removed from one side. Turn over the chicken thigh and repeat this process on the other side, taking care not to cut too deep into any cartilage that may still be attached. Once both sides have been deboned, check for any remaining cartilage or bones before cooking or serving your dish.
Cook chicken thighs over low heat for a softer texture
Chicken thighs are an excellent choice for cooking over low heat. Dark meat, like chicken thighs, is higher in connective tissue and collagen than white meat. When cooked over low heat, the connective tissue breaks down into gelatin which helps to keep the chicken juicy and tender. Chicken thighs also have a premium flavor that can be enhanced by braising or slow-cooking them over low heat.
Cooking chicken thighs over low heat is a great way to ensure they are safe to eat without drying. Be careful, though — it’s easy to brown the skin and undercook the meat when cooking over high heat, as the skin browns quickly, but the meat doesn’t cook internally. Ensure that the internal temperature of the meat reaches the recommended temperature (165 degrees Fahrenheit) before consuming it to be certain that any harmful bacteria are destroyed. All in all, it’s best to avoid high heat when cooking chicken thighs. If you are craving that crispy chicken skin, turn up the heat moments before finishing the dish.
Cook chicken thighs for a long time
Chicken thighs are an excellent choice for slow, long cooking. Dark meat is usually more flavorful and juicier than white meat, so favoring chicken thighs over chicken breasts is natural in terms of aroma. In addition, you may constantly fear overcooking chicken breast, leaving the meat dry and lacking flavor.
Cooking dark meat (such as chicken thighs) for a more extended period also allows the gelatin to dissolve and moisten the meat. As white meat has no gelatin, you run the risk of drying it when you cook it for a longer time. However, long-cooking recipes always require dark meat, which is smooth while soaking in the marinade or sauce. Just think of coq au vin or braised chicken thighs. So, if you want your chicken dish to offer a burst of flavor and tender meat, skip the chicken breast and opt for chicken thighs, as they react much better to longer cooking periods.
Don’t drain the fat when cooking chicken thighs
Skin-covered chicken thighs are one of the fattiest parts of a chicken, and this fat makes them so crispy when cooked. When roasting chicken thighs, you may notice a large amount of fat in the pan, which most people usually tend to throw out. However, you shouldn’t.
Chicken fat is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various ways. It has a rich flavor that can add depth and complexity to dishes. Chicken fat can be used to flavor vegetable side dishes or gravy, and is also great for roasting meat. It can also be used to make homemade condiments such as whipped chicken butter or schmaltz, which is chicken fat mixed with herbs and spices. Chicken fat can also be used in baking, for instance, when making pie crusts. When you use chicken fat in baking, substitute the butter or oil in the recipe in the same amount. Also, you need to adjust the cooking temperature, as chicken fat has higher smoke point than butter. So, the next time you roast some chicken thighs, don’t rush into getting rid of all that fat, and think about how you can get creative in the kitchen with it.
Go crispy with roasted chicken thighs
You probably never think of using your pizza stone for roasting chicken thighs. But, it turns out a preheated baking stone helps cook thighs evenly on both sides quickly. You can make a tasty dish in just five minutes with the right ingredients. To cook chicken thighs on a pizza stone, start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and placing the pizza stone on the top rack. Then place the sheet pan with the chicken thighs on top of the pizza stone. It will ensure that the chicken cooks evenly from below and above and gets nice crispy skin. Cook for about five minutes without turning the thighs. That’s it — you’re done!
If you have more than five minutes on hand and want a hearty dish filled with aroma, try this recipe for garlic butter chicken thighs. You will need boneless chicken thighs, garlic, butter, and a pan to make it. The first step is to season the chicken with salt and pepper. Then melt some butter in a pan over medium heat and add the thighs, skin-side down. After cooking them for five minutes, flip them and cook them for another five. Next, add more butter and garlic and place the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. Finally, serve the garlic butter chicken thighs with green beans and French bread so that you can enjoy the melted butter sauce.
Pan-fry chicken thighs for a flavorful dinner
If you’re not in the mood for heating the oven, pan-fried chicken thighs are a delicious and easy meal you can make in just a few steps. All you need is chicken thighs, butter, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and chicken broth.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and spices, then melt the butter in a large skillet. Once hot enough, add the seasoned chicken thighs to the skillet and sear both sides for about five minutes each. Pour your prepared broth into the skillet when the chicken is evenly roasted on both sides. Turn down the heat to low, then cover the skillet and let it cook for 20 minutes or until it’s cooked through. You will get a dish with tender, flavor-filled meat, perfect for dinner. You can use the chicken for a picnic, in a sandwich, or on top of a delicious salad.
Braise chicken thighs and add a Mediterranean twist
The rich flavors of chicken thighs work well with Mediterranean aromas in this braised chicken thighs with garlic, lemon, and Greek olives, courtesy of chef Marco Canora. The resulting dish can be served as a main course or side dish. It’s an easy recipe to make and requires minimal ingredients. The flavors of the garlic, lemon, and olives blend to create a savory aroma that pairs beautifully with the tender chicken thighs. As the chicken thighs are seared until crisp before being combined with the other ingredients, they will soak up the earthy tastes inspired by Mediterranean cooking.
Start the dish by searing the meat in olive oil, skin-side down. When flipping the thighs over, add the garlic, so the meat gets infused with its taste while cooking. After searing, combine the onions, lemon slices, and oregano, and cook them together until soft. Then, with the meat nestled between the vegetables and covered with lemon juice, bake the dish for 40 to 50 minutes. In the end, the meat will be soft and perfectly infused with the aromas, so scattering fresh oregano leaves on top will work great. Finally, you can serve the dish with your favorite veggies and have the perfect weeknight dinner.
Use chicken thighs for Kung Pao chicken
Kung Pao chicken, a popular Asian dish, originates from the Sichuan Province of China. It combines chicken, vegetables, and peanuts cooked in a spicy sauce. With their soft texture, chicken thighs are ideal for Kung Pao chicken, as they will absorb the flavors during cooking. The sauce has a rich aroma, combining soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, and sesame oil. Available from many take-out Asian restaurants, it can be served as an appetizer or as a main meal. It is best when served with steamed rice or noodles and vegetables.
By utilizing chicken thighs, you can make Kung Pao chicken at home and avoid the possible disappointment that sometimes comes with take-out food. This homemade Kung Pao chicken recipe explains every step to achieve that fabulous taste. First, you will need to cut the meat into bite-sized pieces, which you will coat in the marinade. Next, mix light and dark soy sauce, cornstarch, Chinese black vinegar, Shaoxing wine, brown sugar, and sesame oil for the marinade. Then stir-fry garlic, ginger, and chilis, and add the meat, green onions, and some peanuts. That’s it; now you have your homemade Kung Pao chicken.
Give chicken thighs a Persian flavor twist
Chicken thighs are great at retaining complex flavors, so they are ideal for cooking Tahchin. This classic Persian dish consists of chicken, rice, and yogurt. It is a popular dish in the Middle East and is often served as part of a larger meal. The main ingredients (chicken, yogurt, and spices) give Tahchin a vibrant flavor. The texture is also unique, as it has a crispy crust that gives way to a moist interior filled with succulent pieces of chicken and fluffy rice. The yogurt adds creaminess to the dish, while the spices give it an unmistakable aroma and taste.
Perfectly cooked in a cast-iron Dutch oven, this Tahchin recipe results in a dish with a perfectly cooked golden crust and a creamy, layered interior. To make the recipe, brown the chicken with some onions, and add lemon juice. Then, make a marinade using orange peel and yogurt and leave the meat in for at least three hours. Next, cook some rice, strain the meat (preserve the marinating liquid and mix it with an egg, then use it to coat the rice), then layer the rice and meat in a buttered pot. After carefully baking and removing it from the pot, you will have a great-looking, cake-like dish that tastes amazing.
Turn chicken thighs Greek
You can never go wrong with a Greek gyro; this chicken gyro recipe is no exception. The dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, as it boasts the fresh flavors of lemon, garlic, and oregano and the tender texture of marinated chicken thighs. Marinating the meat in Greek yogurt, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, garlic, and a combination of herbs and seasonings (oregano, paprika, ground cumin, salt, and pepper) will make it more tender. It will also lend it that particular Greek oregano taste.
The minimum time to marinade the chicken thighs for the gyro is one hour, but you can choose to leave them overnight. Cook the marinade-covered diced chicken thighs in the oven for half an hour until the exterior is brown. To assemble the gyro, you can make a gyro bar and leave each person to prepare their own, or you can do that yourself. You will need pita bread, tzatziki sauce, chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and baked chicken thighs.
Soak chicken thighs in pickle brine for the ultimate burger
Burgers are versatile, filling, delicious, and an all-time favorite. But they are not necessarily beef burgers. As Chris Kronner proves, you can make a great burger using fried chicken thighs. But first, marinate them, like in this pickle juice-brined fried chicken recipe.
Marinating chicken thighs in pickle juice and buttermilk is a great way to add flavor to your dish. Combining the two ingredients creates a unique chemistry that helps tenderize the chicken, adding a delicious and juicy texture. The dill pickle juice adds a tangy flavor, while the buttermilk helps to keep the chicken moist. To marinate your chicken thighs, submerge them in pickle juice for at least six hours, then in buttermilk for at least one hour. Next, fry the chicken after coating it in a flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper mixture. Finish the burgers with coleslaw and toasted buns and eat them while the chicken and the buns are still hot.
Add chicken thighs to chili for a lighter version
If you love chili but are trying to eat less beef or are looking for a way to make the vegetables taste stronger, try substituting minced beef with chicken thighs. The meat will change the texture of the chili, and because it has a tamer flavor, it will also let the veggies shine. With its excellent vegetable combination, the chicken thighs chili is a great autumn dish, perfect for warming up those cold days.
This smoky chicken chili recipe combines vegetables and seasonings to achieve that particular chili taste. You can get the smoky flavor of the dish by sautéing red onions and bell peppers. Then, add some fresh coriander leaves, garlic, paprika, cumin, and chili powder and cook them to release their flavor. Cover the veggies with chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, chicken stock, and cinnamon, and add the chicken thighs. Cook everything for at least 45 minutes until the meat is tender. To finish the dish, shred the chicken, remove the bones, and add some beans and dark chocolate. The chicken chili is best served with sour cream, avocado, and rice.
Spice things up with a chicken thighs curry
If you love all things spicy, then you probably are a fan of curry. A South Asian dish that combines spices and sauce, curry has many varieties. In India, it sometimes includes leaves from the curry tree. Outside of India, curry is mainly made with coconut milk and spice pastes and is eaten with rice. Some curry recipes include fish meat, while others are vegetarian.
This Thai chicken curry recipe uses chicken thighs to absorb the flavors and preserve a soft texture. The meat adds a unique flavor and taste to the curry. The dish is prepared by cooking chicken thighs in a blend of coconut milk, fish sauce, minced ginger, garlic, Thai curry paste, chicken broth, and brown sugar. The curry sauce gives it an intense, savory, and sweet flavor. The meat cooks fast in this sauce when cut into large-size bites and is ready in about eight minutes. The final step in preparing the curry is to add eggplant, snow peas, green onions, and lime juice. Serve the curry as soup in a bowl or on a plate, on top of some steamed rice.
Glaze chicken thighs with honey and mustard
A nice and nostalgic flavor combination is chicken tenders dipped into a honey mustard sauce, a dish that reminds most people of childhood. But there is a way to use chicken thighs in a similar-tasting recipe, with the bonus of cooking everything in a pan without stirring the sauce.
This honey mustard chicken recipe from developer Catherine Brookes is just what it promises and delivers that beautiful, nostalgic taste. The recipe only needs a few ingredients. It also comes with the super-moist, tender chicken thighs and crispy skin, which pair very well with the honey mustard flavor. Mix Dijon mustard, honey, and olive oil to make the sauce. Then season the chicken thighs and cover them with the sauce. Bake the dish for 40 minutes, and when it’s done, sprinkle the chicken with fresh parsley and serve it with potato rice, broccoli, or salad.