People who will happily eat chicken breast often turn their noses up at eating chicken thighs, possibly because they’re considered ‘dark meat’, or because they are sometimes considered unhealthy. Chicken thighs tend to have a lot more taste than bland breast meat, they are far cheaper to buy, and the meat tends to stay juicy and tender during cooking.
Here are 8 reasons to show chicken thighs some love:
If you want crispy skin on your chicken thighs, get bone-in, skin-on thighs. Cook them in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with a little oil, skin side down, until the skin turns crispy and golden. Turn them over and transfer the whole pan to a 375F oven and cook for around 20-30 minutes. Cast iron cookware is great for this, as you can cook on the stovetop and then transfer straight to the oven.
Chicken thighs have a more intense flavor than breast, which is down to them being ‘dark meat’. The extra fat is also a source of flavor, as is the bone. To get the flavor out of the bone marrow, braise the bone-in thighs.
Whether you take the bones out before cooking or save the bones afterward, they will give a rich chicken flavor to homemade chicken stock. For extra flavor, add the wingtips as well, which are almost pure cartilage.
If you use moist-heat cooking techniques like braising, chicken thighs will forgive you if you leave them in the oven too long. The worst that can happen is that if you go over your braising time, the meat will just fall off the bone.
Anything can technically be braised, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be. Chicken thighs contain a bone, along with connective tissue like cartilage, which makes them an ideal candidate for braising. This cooking method breaks down the collagen into gelatin, which contributes to the juiciness of the cooked thighs.
Chicken thighs are also suited for grilling, thanks to the extra fat and their natural juiciness. You can’t cook them over high heat like breasts, but when you cook them over a medium grill they will turn out tender and full of flavor. Marinate them before grilling and brush them with a sauce near the end of the cooking time.
Thighs have a good meat-to-bone ratio relative to other bone-in chicken parts, such as drumsticks and wings, which means they’re good value for money.
Bone-in chicken thighs tend to cost around one-third the price per pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which means you can feed a family for a lot less money when you use chicken thighs. Boneless ones cost a little more but are still not comparable to the price of chicken breast.