Welcome to thigh heaven. An ultra simple recipe for crispy and moist chicken thighs. Just a quick pat dry, some spices and bake in a high oven will get you great crispy chicken thighs.
My oven baked chicken drumstick recipe is usually the top recipe on this site. Great crispy drummies but I keep getting asked about thigh. The people want thighs. They demand thighs. So thighs they will have by popular demand I present my recipe for oven baking chicken thighs.
The chicken thigh’s dark meat is moist and flavorful. Why? Mostly the fat keeps it that way but how much fat is there. Since we are dealing with a natural product, there is some variability but think of a thigh having about two to three times the fat of chicken breasts. Here are the numbers from the National Chicken Council. Roasted, a skin-on thigh has 15.5 grams of fat while a skin-on split chicken breast is 7.8.
My “thigh friends” are all strong fives. I’m more of a high four because I’m not usually a thigh person due to fat, but a lot of the fat drained during cooking on the rack.
Recipe Notes for Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Thighs:
We are aiming for crispy skin and eliminating a lot of fat.
- DO NOT SKIP THE PAT DRY or you will not have crispy skin. (See https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/chicken-rinse-not-rinse/ about rinsing the chicken)
- Trim off any trimmable fat.
- Get the thighs up on a rack to let the rendered fat drain. It also gets them out of the drained fat.
- Cook at high temp and use a thermometer to be sure you get to 185. Do not guess. Thighs are safe at 165 degrees but tender at 185.
- Spice as you want. I often add the Cayenne but if you have little ones, skip it.
- Scale to any amount you need.
- Skip the seasoning and brush with your favorite BBQ sauce the last 5 minutes to make great oven baked BBQ thighs.
I was a bit surprising that the thighs took a few minutes less than drumsticks. BUT COOK TO THE TEMPERATURE not by time along. Please check my post about washing chicken at Chicken… To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
What Temperature to Cook Chicken Thighs?
Chicken thighs and drumsticks should be cooked at high temperature. I use 425 degrees by convection. If no convection cook still at 425 but it will take a few more minutes. Cooking time will be about 30 minutes to a final internal temperature of 180-185 which is best for thighs.
Safe temperature for chicken is 165, but thighs will be more tender at 180 plus.
Oven Smoke and What to do about it.
Smoking ovens have been an issue for some due to high temp cooking. I haven’t had the problem, BUT it is probably related to multiple factors.
- First, if there is trimmable fat, trim it.
- Use a pan with some side on it to keep any splatter contained.
- If your oven has convection roast and convection bake, use the bake mode.
- You could turn down the oven by 25-50 degrees. This will increase the cooking time some and may prone to drying out some. Remember to cook to an endpoint, not by time. Of course, the oven should be clean, so the smoke isn’t coming from a previous splatter.
- Some water in the pan under the rack will prevent the smoking issue. Fat drips and then hits the water and will be 212 degrees immediately and not smoke. Thanks to Maeleen in the comments.
Preheat oven to 425 convection. Pat dry the chicken thighs.
Trim any loose skin with no meat off the thighs.
Prep a baking sheet. Line with aluminum foil, add a rack and give a heavy spray of PAM.
Place thighs skin down and sprinkle lightly with the spices of your choice. I went with 7:2:1 or 7:2:2. ( If you don’t have that then just a little salt and pepper to taste.) A pinch of cayenne would be good also. Flip and tuck in any thin parts underneath and sprinkle skin side.
With skin side up, bake until internal temp of 180 to 185. About 30 minutes. Rest for 5 minutes or more before serving.
October 28, 2017