Recipe: Crispy Chicken Thighs with Garlicky Spinach

updated May 1, 2019
Crispy Chicken Thighs with Garlicky Spinach
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(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

When we roast a chicken at my house, we typically eat the breasts on the first night and save the thighs and the drumsticks for the next.

This sequence is motivated partly by a “save the best for last” approach and partly by a particular fondness for our reheat method, which gives that once-crispy chicken skin a second lease on life.

(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

You see, while my roasted chickens come out of the oven golden-brown and shiny, by the time the bird is rested and carved, I never think it’s as texturally exciting as it could be. I want that skin crispy!

So I save my favorite pieces — the thighs — for the next night’s dinner, where I warm them up with some hot oil in a skillet. The skin becomes spectacularly crispy — just the way it should be. It’s one of those scenarios where the leftovers are even better than the first go-round. Paired with rice and garlicky, lemony sautéed spinach, it’s a simple meal that never fails to satisfy my family.

Even better, this meal is a quick one to get on the table. Although our baby and toddler still go to bed early, we consistently sit down to dinner as a family. We make it work, but some nights we feel rushed with fast-approaching bedtimes and cranky kids — hence the relief of knowing these pan-seared chicken thighs are on the menu. To make things even easier on ourselves, I often make a big batch of rice on Sundays to use throughout the week, so this dinner is ready to eat in only 15 minutes. (The only downside is the table mess — if you have little ones, you know rice cleanup is no joke.)

→ Serve This With: Easy Brown Rice

Crispy Chicken Thighs with Garlicky Spinach

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 2

    cooked chicken thighs (leftover from a roasted chicken)

  • 2

    cooked chicken wings (leftover from a roasted chicken)

  • 5 ounces

    fresh baby spinach

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, finely chopped

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2

    lemon, juice and zest

  • Olive oil

  • Salt

  • Cooked brown rice, to serve


  1. Coat the bottom of a large skillet with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, place the chicken skin-side down in the pan. Cook, without moving, until the skin is crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip and cook until the second side is golden, another 3 to 5 minutes. Move the chicken to a serving plate.

  2. Add the spinach and garlic to the skillet, and sprinkle with the nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Sauté until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Serve immediately with the crispy chicken and brown rice.