My Best Chicken Thigh Recipes for Easy Weeknight Dinners ~ chicken thighs are quick, cheap, and universally loved by everybody in the family, you simply can’t beat them for weeknight meals.
Why chicken thighs?
Chicken thighs are probably the ideal cut
- Many people think chicken thighs have the best flavor.
- Chicken thighs are very forgiving, they don’t dry out during cooking like breast meat can.
- When properly cooked chicken thighs are incredibly tender and juicy.
What’s the difference between white and dark meat?
- Dark meat comes from muscle that is well used, like the legs of the bird, and contains more myoglobin, which contributes to its darker color. It’s referred to as red muscle.
- Dark meat is a little higher in fat and calories than white meat (but still considered a lean meat)
- Dark meat is slightly higher in vitamins and minerals.
- Higher fat means dark meat is more tender, and has a stronger, more ‘chicken-y’ flavor.
- White meat comes from muscle that does not get much use, like the breast and wings, and therefore has less myoglobin protein.
- White meat is lean and pale in color. It’s referred to as white muscle.
- White meat cooks more quickly and has a milder flavor.
- White mean can become dry and tough if over cooked.
Skin on or off?
You’ll notice many (but not all!) the recipes featured here are skin-on. That’s because the skin adds flavor and texture to the finished dish, especially when browned first.
I generally buy skin-on thighs, unless my recipe calls for the chicken to be immersed in a sauce or soup. In that case I use skinless (the skin would become rubbery in liquid.)
However if you’re watching fat and calories, use skinless thighs, they’re definitely lower in fat: a skinless thigh has 6 grams fat while a skin-on thigh has 17 grams.
Any of these recipes can be adapted for skinless thighs.
Bone in or boneless chicken thighs?
My personal preference is for boneless, but it is nearly impossible to find boneless skin-on chicken thighs in the supermarket, you’d have to ask the butcher to prepare them specially for you. Fyi, it’s worth it!
Be aware that any meat on the bone will take a little longer to cook. Use an instant read thermometer inserted near, but not touching, the bone and it should read 165F when done.
My Teriyaki Chicken with Broccoli Rice uses boneless skinless chicken thighs
and that means chopstick tender meat and a heart healthy meal. If you don’t see boneless skinless thighs in your supermarket, ask the butcher. It’s also easy to de-bone them yourself, just slice around the bone with a sharp knife to remove it.
My Chicken Thighs with White Beans and Greens is based on an Mediterranean classic.
The Italians have been combining beans and greens for generations, and when you add chicken thighs into the mix, you’ve got an extraordinarily hearty (and healthy!) meal that comes together in a flash.
Same pan, same Mediterranean theme, but Tuscan Chicken Thighs takes it in a different direction…
this recipe is so rich and comforting for chilly nights. I make sure to keep the browned chicken skin above the bubbling sauce so it stays nice and crispy.
My Chicken Thighs in Lemon Sauce is a favorite around here,
and it proves that everyday meals don’t have to be bland or boring. The silky smooth Greek lemon sauce is super creamy, but surprisingly dairy free. It’s made with the same easy technique I use in my Greek Avgolemono Soup.
Speaking of creamy, my Chicken Thighs Marsala is so luxurious it can double as a romantic meal for two.
Marsala wine and a touch of cream make this a restaurant quality dish. Marsala is an Italian fortified wine with a long shelf life, and it’s the secret ingredient in lots of different sauces. But be sure to look for a good quality Marsala, and skip anything labeled ‘cooking wine’.
This Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice and Mushrooms is a welcome back to fall meal if there ever was one.
Wild rice and mushrooms are a classic Autumn pairing, and make these chicken thighs special. Wild rice is easy to cook and adds such a pop of color and texture to one pot dinners like this.
Lemon Chicken Biryani introduces an exotic note into the family dinner routine,
and yet this chicken thigh recipe still comes together in about an hour. Once you’ve got the handful of easily available spices in your cupboard this aromatic chicken and rice dish will become a staple in your dinner rotation.
Chicken Satay is traditionally made with boneless skinless chicken thighs.
The meat is marinated in coconut milk and rich spices which makes it even more tender and delicious. The little chunks cook in no time, making this perfect for busy weeknights.