I’m going to be honest with you. I always thought the best way to cook chicken thighs was in the oven, especially when making this chicken thigh sheet pan dinner. But then I tried making chicken thighs over the stove on my cast-iron skillet, and well, I’m not sure if I’ll ever cook it another way. This is by far the best way to cook chicken thighs at home—hands down. Here’s how I do it.
Originally I was inspired by this NYT Cooking recipe for honey hot chicken thighs, which is still one of my favorite recipes to make at home. While making this recipe for the first time, I realized the actual method of cooking the chicken thighs in the skillet was genius—so I just started doing that every time I cook chicken thighs at home, without the extra spices and honey.
I, of course, cook this recipe in my cast-iron skillet (which you can get your own here!) If you’ve been following me for a while, you know how much I love cooking meals in this thing—like all of these cast-iron skillet recipes here on the blog.
Alright, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to cook chicken thighs at home.
Place thighs skin side down in oil
Heat up one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Season the top of the chicken thighs skin with salt and pepper, then place into the skillet skin side down.
Cover and do not move.
While it will be tempting to move the chicken around while it’s cooking, just trust me on this—do not move it. I’ll cover my skillet with a splatter screen like this one and just leave it while it cooks. During this time the skin will get nice and crispy.
Flip after 10 minutes.
Right before flipping the thighs, season the uncooked side of the thighs with salt and pepper. Flip using tongs, then cook for another 10 minutes. Again, don’t move it! Cover it with a splatter screen.
Cook until the thighs are at 165 degrees.
Make sure to check if the chicken is done! Chicken needs to be cooked at 165 degrees. You’ll find that some sections of the chicken are hotter than others (like 179 degrees, yowza!) So make sure to check different parts of the thight to make sure it’s fully cooked through. The easiest way to determine if the chicken is fully cooked is to cut it open and check if it’s no longer pink. Chicken thighs will create a dark, brown meat, just an FYI.
Sides to serve with chicken thighs
When I cook this chicken thigh recipe, I like to roast vegetables for sides. Here are a few vegetables you can roast, as well as other sides to consider making.
Alright here’s the guide on how to cook chicken thighs! Feel free to save this link or print the recipe for later.
- Cast-iron skillet
- Meat thermometer
- 2-4 chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt & pepper for seasoning
- Pat down the chicken thighs using a paper towel. Do not rinse them.
- Heat up a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Season the tops of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Place the chicken thighs skin down into the hot oil using tongs.
- Cover with a grease protector and leave the chicken thighs for 10 minutes. You may need to turn down the heat slightly if the oil starts to splatter, but do not touch the thighs.
- After 10 minutes, season the other side of the thighs with salt and pepper and flip with tongs. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Check the temperature of the thighs. If they are still below 165 degrees, keep cooking.