Do you Google ‘how long does it take to cook chicken thighs?’ every time you go to cook them? Read our handy guide for perfect chicken thighs with lots of recipe inspiration too.
Chicken thighs are a versatile, budget-friendly cut of meat that can be used in countless delicious recipes. Choosing bone-in chicken thighs with the skin still attached will offer the most flavour but lots of supermarkets sell skinless varieties if you are looking for a leaner option.
Our Food Editor Samuel Goldsmith explains: “The good thing about the skins is use can trap lots of flavour underneath. Try making a garlic or herb butter and use your fingers to rub underneath as you would a roast chicken.”
Chicken thighs can be slowly cooked in an oven or slow-cooker, barbecued or sliced in a stir-fry or curry.
They taste particularly good when given some TLC and are left to marinade overnight as they absorb lots of flavour.
Whatever your favourite cuisine, chicken thighs are often a good choice of meat. Go Kentucky-style fried, re-create your favourite takeaway chicken curry or combine them with paprika, tomatoes and herbs in our one-pot Spanish chicken and rice.
How long does it take to cook chicken thighs?
As a general rule of thumb, oven-cooked chicken thighs will take 35-40mins at 180C/160C fan.
However, the length of time you need to cook your chicken thighs depends on the style of cooking and recipe. For example, if the recipe tells you to cut the thighs into small, bite-sized pieces for a stir-fry it could take under 10 minutes for the thighs to cook all the way through.
If you’re roasting the thighs in the oven it will take longer to cook, especially if the thighs aren’t even in thickness. Bear in mind, that as a general rule, bone-in chicken thighs will add more flavour to your dish but they will take longer to cook because they are bigger and heavier.
You can also slow cook chicken thighs for several hours, as outlined in our recipe for Asian chicken thighs. Slow cooked recipes tend to include lots of liquid in the form of stock or chopped tomatoes so that there is plenty of moisture in the dish and the chicken won’t go dry.
Many people find chicken one of the trickiest meats to cook as they often over-cook it for fear of food poisoning. Read our ultimate guide to cooking chicken so you can be confident you’re doing it right.
What temperature should you cook chicken thighs in the oven?
The lower your oven temperature, the longer you will need to cook the chicken thighs. You should preheat your oven to ensure it is as the temperature specified in your recipe otherwise the timings will be inaccurate.
Remember that opening and closing your oven door will also cause the temperature to decrease, so try not to open it frequently while cooking.
TOP TIP: If a recipe only specifies the conventional oven temperature but you want to cook on fan, simply deduct 20C. So a recipe that calls for 200C, is 180C in a fan oven.
However, as outlined below, we always recommend checking the internal temperature with a digital thermometer for full peace of mind.
When cooking chicken thighs in the oven, consider pan-frying them first to crisp up the skin. Brush with a little oil or melt some butter and cook skin side down for a couple of minutes until golden.
Finish in the oven as specified in your recipe until the internal temperature hits 74C.
How do you know when chicken thighs are cooked?
To test when chicken thighs are cooked we recommend using a digital meat thermometer, which you might have read in our guide to cooking the perfect steak.
Using a digital thermometer will help you to become a more confident cook and remove any stress of potential food poisoning. Chicken is cooked when it has an internal temperature of 74C. To probe your chicken thighs you should insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.
You can also test to see chicken is cooked if the juices run clear when cut and pressed. However, this method isn’t as precise and can also ruin the presentation if you’re serving chicken thighs at a dinner party.
How to add flavour to chicken thighs
The flavourings you choose will largely depend on the style of cooking and if you’ve chosen skin-on or off thighs.
If you plan to cook chicken thighs that will be submerged in a sauce, like our chicken coconut curry (pictured above), we recommend using skinless bone-in thighs for maximum flavour. It goes without saying that you can’t achieve crispy chicken skin if it’s swimming in sauce!
It’s very easy to remove the skin yourself, just take your time and use a sharp knife.
There is no need to throw the skin away, turn them into a tasty snack with this quick recipe.
Crispy chicken skin crisps
- Preheat your oven to 180C.
- Scrape any remaining flesh and fat from the chicken skin and place it on a baking tray lined with a greaseproof paper.
- Sprinkle with salt, then place another layer of greaseproof paper on top and weigh it down with another baking tray.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes until crispy. Leave to cool on kitchen towel to absorb some of the grease.
If, like us, you hate waste, read these leftover chicken ideas. From salads to pies, you’re sure to find a recipe that makes the most of your delicious leftovers!
The easiest way to add flavour to chicken thighs is to marinade them. Food writer Keiron George suggests has a handy tip, he explains: “I always make 2-3 cuts in the skin and them marinade them… The cuts allow the flavour to go further into the meat.”
Most of our chicken thigh recipes that call for a marinade will suggest doing to overnight for the flavours to fully infuse. At a minimum, we recommend marinating for an hour.
Chicken and garlic are a classic combination so it’s no wonder Slimming World’s rustic garlic tray bake is so popular. One of our users also has a tasty recipe for roasted chicken thighs with garlic, lemon and rosemary. These are a fantastic option if you want the comfort of a roast dinner without all of the prep!
How to cook chicken thighs in the slow cooker
When you cook chicken thighs in a slow cooker, the same principles of marinating apply. Slow cooking will help intensify the flavours and will change the texture quite drastically.
If you want to create a pulled chicken effect for tacos, wraps or even as a jacket potato topping, slow cooking is an excellent option.
Chicken thighs are ideal in slow cooker curry recipes and they also work well in recipes for stews or as pie fillings.
What is your favourite way to eat chicken thighs? What’s your favourite GoodtoKnow recipe? Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and send over your questions for the food team on the TestKitchenUK Instagram.