With crackling crisp skin and juicy bits of chicken morsels in every bite, this is about to become your favorite base for every chicken thighs recipe you’ll ever make.
How to Cook Crispy Skin-On, Bone-In Chicken Thighs
Don’t get me wrong, I love my recipe for perfectly baked chicken breasts, and my grilled chicken breasts are a summertime staple. But when it comes to major chicken flavor that’s forgiving if it cooks a little long, chicken thighs are the answer to “what should we cook for dinner?”
With skin on and bones intact, the dark meat of chicken thighs is the most juicy tasting part of the bird. It’s also one of the cheapest cuts, making a chicken thigh dinner extra friendly to the weeknight dinner budget. And they’re supremely simple to cook.
Starting with a stovetop skillet sear that moves to a final finish in the oven, it’s amazing what mere kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper can do to flavor these simple chicken thighs. Or if you’re feeling fancy, start with this cooking technique then gussy them up like in my lemon chicken thighs with artichokes or stuffed chicken thighs with spinach and goat cheese for some of the quickest dinners around.
Ingredients for the BEST Chicken Thighs
Cooking bone in chicken thighs with the skin on seals in moisture as the fat renders, flavoring and protecting the dark meat. This is what makes chicken thighs more flavorful and juicy, with a crackling crisp skin.
Here’s what you’ll need to cook the best chicken thighs:
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (you can remove the skin after cooking)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking oil such as canola oil, grape seed oil, or olive oil
How to Make Chicken Thighs Healthier to Eat
If you want to make chicken thighs healthier to eat, keep the skin on the meat while cooking, then remove it before eating. But fair warning here…once you get a taste of that crackling crisp cooked skin, it will be hard to say “no” to it.
Start the Chicken Thighs On the Stove
Trim bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Look for meaty chicken thighs that are fully covered with skin that isn’t torn or too loose. Trim any extra tendrils that don’t cover the meat.
Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. If more seasoning is your thing, feel free to sprinkle with dried herbs like oregano, Italian seasoning, Old Bay, lemon pepper, or garlic salt.
Start the chicken thighs in a cold skillet, skin side down. Add oil to a heavy bottom skillet, then add the chicken thighs skin side down before turning on the medium high heat. Bringing the chicken to temperature as the heat of the pan rises reduces the chance of the skin shrinking from the meat. Searing the chicken skin renders the fat and flavors the oil that in turn flavors the chicken meat when flipped.
Sear the chicken on the stove, skin side down for 10-12 minutes, then flip and cook for 4-5 minutes. A splatter guard is the best, cheap investment you’ll make when searing anything in oil on the stove.
Don’t move the chicken while searing. As the skin cooks and crisps, you’ll know the chicken is ready to flip when the skin releases easily from the pan. Don’t force it! If the chicken doesn’t budge, check back a few minutes later until it does. Flip the chicken just once to keep the skin crisp.
Finish in the Oven—How Long to Bake Chicken Thighs
Bake the chicken thighs at 400°F until a thermometer reads 165°F, or about 10-12 minutes after searing on the stove. Always cook to the temperature, not the time. Chicken thighs are tolerant of longer periods of cooking without drying out so if the cooking temp rises to 170°F or beyond, it’s likely the chicken will still be moist.
Bake the chicken in the same skillet, or transfer to a sheet pan lined with a rack. If you don’t mind oil sizzle in the oven, leave the chicken in the skillet to continue cooking as it bakes. But for the most even air flow, transfer the chicken thighs to a baking sheet lined with a rack.
Is chicken safe to eat if it’s still a little pink? According to the USDA, as long as the internal temperature reaches 165°F, cooked chicken is safe to eat, with color not always indicative of doneness.
What to Serve With Chicken Thighs
- BLT Corn Salad
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
- How to Make Classic Macaroni Salad
- Greek Salad with Avocado
- How to Make the Best Mashed Potatoes
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
How to Cook THE BEST Chicken Thighs
- 5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Trim any loose hanging pieces of skin or extra fat from the chicken thighs. Generously season both sides of the chicken thighs with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Add the oil to a large cast-iron skillet or heavy bottom pan so it evenly coats the bottom. Place the seasoned chicken thighs skin side down in the skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the chicken thighs undisturbed for 10-12 minutes or until the chicken releases easily from the skillet and becomes golden brown. Flip the chicken to the other side and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Turn the chicken back to skin side up, then transfer the skillet to the oven. (Or, for less oil pops in the oven, transfer to a baking sheet lined with wire rack.)
- Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken thighs from the oven and transfer to a baking sheet lined with a wire rack or a plate to rest before slicing so the juices redistribute through the meat.
More Chicken Recipes Ideas
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
- Easy Chicken Piccata
- Baked Chicken Parmesan
- Easy Chicken Marsala
- Easy Tandoori Chicken With Vegetables
- 30 Easy Healthy Chicken Dinners Ideas
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Hi Heidi – looks yummy. if using an air fryer for chicken thighs, would you still sear them on the stove first?
Hi Roy! I haven’t tried these in the air fryer so I may have to test. But no, I don’t think so…