Quick and easy chicken thighs are a convenient way to get a tasty meal. Here are some great ideas!
For many people, chicken breasts are the ultimate meat, tasty, high in protein, and easy to fit into a variety of recipes. However, the humble chicken thigh is one of my favorite cuts of meat. It comes with all sorts of great benefits, including being a lot cheaper and tastier than breasts. Here is what you need to know about adding this delicious and versatile meat to your regular meal schedule.
Reasons to Cook With Thighs
Chicken thighs are dark meat with a higher fat content than breasts. This makes them a lot more forgiving to work with. Thanks to the extra fat, you do not have to worry about them drying out if you leave them cooking a minute or two too long. They have a rich, juicy flavor that makes them work well for recipes where you want your chicken to shine.
Does this mean they are less nutritious than breasts? Not at all! The average-sized chicken thigh has about 28 grams of protein and 10 grams of fat, and it comes in at roughly 200 calories. This does mean a chicken thigh has slightly more fat and calories and a little less protein than a chicken breast, but they are still far healthier than several other types of meat.
In addition to their health and versatility, I also like thighs because they are a little more affordable. Most grocery stores sell them at a lower price per pound since everyone wants breasts. This lets you stretch your grocery budget a little farther while appreciating the delicious taste of thighs.
How to Cook a Chicken Thigh
Knowing exactly how to cook a chicken thigh will ensure you get the best possible results. Here are a few basic methods that will ensure you get a perfectly cooked chicken thigh regardless of what seasoning or recipe you plan on working with.
How to Bake a Boneless Chicken Thigh
To bake a chicken thigh, all you need to do is put it on a sheet tray in your oven at 425 degrees. The higher levels of fat in thighs mean they do not need a hefty coat of oil to avoid sticking to the tray. Then roast them until the thighs have an internal temperature of 165 degrees. This usually takes about 20 minutes. However, if you want to be safe, feel free to leave them in an extra five or 10 minutes. Thighs can handle longer cook times well, and the outside gets nice and crispy. If you plan to shred the chicken for salads, sandwiches, or tacos, all you need is a sprinkling of salt and pepper. However, this style of baking can also be good when you toss your thighs with a flavorful spice rub or marinade.
How to Pan Cook a Boneless Chicken Thigh
Pan fried thighs are equally easy. If you want a speedy dinner, chop the thighs into one-inch pieces and cook on each side over medium-high heat for three minutes. This makes easy chicken thigh chunks for stir-fries and pasta dishes. You can also pan cook thighs whole. You have to season your thighs well, place them in the pan over medium heat, cover them, cook for about six minutes, flip, and cook six minutes more. If you are worried about the thighs burning, add a little water, stock, or wine to the pan to braise the thighs.
Cooking Boneless Vs. Bone-in Thighs
Cooking a chicken thigh with the bone still in the thighs is similar, but you will need to take into account that these thighs are bigger and have a dense bone in the middle. That will mean it takes longer for the interior to rise to a safe temperature. Therefore, bone-in thighs normally do not do as well with cooking methods that call for high heat and fast cooking times. Slightly lower heat and longer cooking time will give your thighs plenty of time to reach safe temperatures inside without burning outside.
Chicken Thigh Recipe Ideas
Still not sure what to make with a chicken thigh? Here are some tasty ideas!
Fried chicken - The higher fat content means every bite of your fried chicken will be nice and juicy. This recipe is as easy as marinating your thighs in buttermilk, browning them in a Dutch oven, then baking them to get extra crunch.
Cashew Chicken - Marinate your chicken thigh chunks in soy, ginger, and garlic before tossing them in a pan with broccoli, carrots, and onions. Sauté until the veggies are soft and the chicken is brown, then add a few cups of cooked rice. Season with soy sauce, and sauté until brown and fragrant.
Lemon thyme thighs - This fast and easy recipe only has six ingredients. All you have to do is coat a thigh in olive oil, salt, and pepper before pan-searing it. Halfway through cooking, coat with thyme and lemon before baking it a little while longer. The result is tasty thighs that work well with pasta, potatoes, or rice.