The Best Method for Cooking Crispy, Juicy Chicken Thighs Every Time

published Sep 19, 2017
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are a wallet-friendly cut that won’t kill your weekly food budget, plus they’re wildly versatile and easy to make. The key is to remember this simple process that starts on the stovetop and finishes in the oven — no recipe required — for perfectly crisp chicken every time.

Sear and Roast for Crispy, Juicy Chicken Thighs

This method is a foolproof way to ensure crispy, juicy chicken thighs every single time. Searing the meat skin-side down in a screaming-hot skillet gives it the crispy texture we love so much, while roasting finishes it off, leaving you with rich, juicy meat.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Crispy Chicken Thighs — No Recipe Required

Cooking up a batch of chicken thighs blanketed with super crispy skin is easy, and doesn’t even require a recipe. You just need these four steps.

  1. Dry the chicken: Before adding the chicken to the pan, use a paper towel to thoroughly pat the skin dry. When the skin is moist or wet, it’s more likely to stick to the pan, and therefore won’t crisp up quite as nicely.
  2. Heat up the skillet: Keep the heat around medium to medium-high, but before anything touches the pan, let it get hot — like, really hot. A cast iron pan or stainless steel one that can go into the oven is best. If you’ve got a sensitive fire alarm, now’s the time to open a window. Next, pour in a thin layer of oil and heat until it shimmers. Then add the chicken thighs, skin-side down, and let them do their thing.
  3. Sear undisturbed: This is the crucial step where the skin picks up its irresistible crispy texture. The secret to success is searing the thighs undisturbed until the skin is well-browned, which typically takes about 10 minutes. That means using all your willpower not to lift, move, or otherwise peek at the blistering skin.
  4. Roast: Flip the chicken skin-side up and transfer the whole skillet to a hot oven, at least 400°F, but ideally closer to 450°F. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes until it’s done (it should register as 165°F in the thickest part).

Crispy Chicken Thigh Recipes