Now the question is, how to cook chicken thighs properly to keep the meat succulent and moist!
The secret to keeping chicken moist while cooking, no matter which cooking method you choose, is to brine the chicken beforehand.
Brining a chicken does two things.
First, it increases the moisture inside the chicken through osmosis by allowing the flesh to absorb liquid during the brining process.
This process will help prevent your chicken from drying out especially if you are roasting or deep-frying chicken.
Second, brining helps increase the flavor of chicken because the flavors of spices, herbs, and other ingredients you include in the brine will also be absorbed into the meat.
Chicken thighs are dark meat. The drumstick or leg is also considered dark meat.
Due to the high amount of movement in these parts of the living chicken, these parts of the animal contain more oxygen and iron. The iron is found inside a protein called myoglobin, which is responsible for the darker color of the meat.
Dark meat contains higher amounts of protein and fat compared to white meat.
How to know when chicken thighs are done
The most accurate way to test for doneness is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. You can simply stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat (without touching the bone) and check the internal temperature. It should read 165⁰F.
How long to bake chicken thighs
The baking time of chicken thighs will depend on the temperature of your oven. As a rule of thumb, you can bake bone-in chicken thighs covered at 375⁰F for 40-45 minutes.
Boneless chicken thighs take less time to cook, about 25 minutes covered.
Be sure to use a meat thermometer for the most accurate way to tell if chicken thighs are fully cooked.
Do I wash chicken thighs before baking?
No, you should not wash chicken thighs before baking.
Washing raw chicken can contaminate your kitchen surfaces, cooking appliances, and other ingredients by spreading bacteria in the water when it splashes around.
What’s more, cooking the chicken thoroughly and properly will help remove bacterial growth and contamination.
Do I remove the skin from chicken thighs?
The flavor of chicken thighs is mostly found in the skin because it contains a lot of fat. What’s more, keeping the skin on will help keep the thighs moist during cooking.
If you don’t want the additional fat and calories, you can just remove the skin after you cook your chicken thighs.
However, keep in mind that the skin would have soaked up a lot of the sauce, spices, or herbs that you used on your chicken thighs, so you would also be sacrificing a lot of the flavor when you remove the skin before serving.
How do I reheat chicken thighs?
The trick to reheating chicken thighs is to not cook them too long or too fast so that the meat doesn’t get tough and dried out. Boneless chicken thighs take less time to reheat than bone-in.
For a saucy dish, move to a microwave-safe dish, cover, and reheat one thigh at a time for 30 seconds on high, turn, and cook again for 25 seconds. Or, reheat on medium in a skillet on the stove top, covered, for about five minutes, spooning the sauce over the thigh and flipping it once.
For one or two chicken thighs that have no sauce, you can wrap the chicken thigh loosely in a moist paper towel and heat on high in the microwave for 45 seconds, then turn, and heat for an additional 20 seconds. Let it rest in the microwave for one minute, remove and then take out of the paper towel before serving.
For bone-in chicken thighs, add 15 seconds to your cooking time so it’s reheated thoroughly. Some microwaves are stronger than others, so keep checking and turning your meat.
Pickle-Braised Chicken Thighs with Cauliflower Rice
If you have leftover dill pickle juice at home, don’t throw it out! Use it to brine chicken thighs and they will add a deliciously tangy and briny flavor to the chicken.
They will also keep the chicken moist while cooking.
The cauliflower “rice” is a great dish to pair with chicken thighs because it’s light and nutty.
This recipe combo will be a hit for your next dinner because it’s filling AND hearty at the same time!
- 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3–4 cloves fresh garlic
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 3 lbs.)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ c. dill pickle juice
- 1½ c. organic chicken broth, divided
- Salt, to taste (optional)
- 3 T. fresh parsley
- 1 pkg of frozen cauliflower rice
- 1 T. extra virgin olive oil.
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Peel garlic and mince finely.
- In a large 12” oven-proof skillet, heat one T. of extra-virgin olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously to prevent garlic from burning.
- Season chicken thighs with pepper, to taste. Sear chicken thighs in batches. Place 4 thighs in hot skillet, skin side down, and sear until the skin is golden brown and releases easily from the surface of the skillet. Turn thighs and repeat on the other side.
- Remove browned chicken thighs and set aside. Cover with a plate to keep the thighs warm.
- Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs.
- After browning all chicken thighs, return the first 4 thighs into the skillet. Arrange them in a single layer.
- Add pickle juice and ½ chicken broth to the pan.
- Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, covered.
- Turn each thigh over with tongs and continue cooking for another 30 minutes until the meat is tender.
- Once the meat is tender, remove chicken thighs from skillet and place on serving dish. Allow resting for 5 minutes
- While the chicken is resting, cook cauliflower rice according to directions.
- To make the pan sauce, add the remaining cup of chicken broth to the first skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until sauce reduces to half. Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, and stir the pan sauce occasionally to prevent burning. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Place chicken thighs over a bed of cauliflower rice and drizzle with pan sauce. Chop fresh parsley and add as a garnish, if desired.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 382Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 167mgSodium: 947mgCarbohydrates: 13gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 33g
Pat Chicken Thighs Dry
If you want your chicken thighs to get that nice and crispy skin during browning, make sure to pat them dry before cooking. Use thick paper towels to pat down the chicken thighs, removing as much excess moisture as possible.
You can also add some seasoning on chicken thighs before browning them, as the seasoning will also help create that yummy crust.
Brighten Up the Dish
You can squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top of the chicken thighs right before serving to add a bright, tangy flavor to the dish!
The citrus in the lemon will help cut through the richness of the chicken and the saltiness of the pickle sauce.
Take it Easy on the Salt
Keep in mind that pickle juice already contains a fair bit of salt before you use it as a sauce, so don’t add any salt before tasting the pan sauce! In fact, some people might find that the pickle pan sauce is a bit too overpowering.
If that is the case, you can add a bit more chicken stock to help mellow the flavor.
Braising chicken thighs is a great way to have tender, succulent chicken for dinner. However, keep an eye on the simmering liquid to make sure that it doesn’t get over-reduced – no one wants a burnt pan sauce!