This easy recipe of garlic butter chicken thighs, will delight you. You can serve it with your favorite side dish, or with something as simple as boiled/baked potatoes. The star of the plate will be for sure the garlic butter chicken thighs.
The recipe can be done in under 30 minutes. You will get a crispy skin chicken thigh with a juicy meat. The best part, is that you do not need any special ingredients for this dish. Just some fresh garlic, butter and the chicken thighs. Regarding serving, I recommend one piece/person
What is special about my chicken thigh recipe?
I am sure you can find plenty of recipes for garlic butter chicken thighs on the internet. My one differs because of the simplicy and use of fresh ingredients. You can find recipes with lots of condiments, etc. While I agree, that you can get different flavors, by using different spices, I wanted to keep my recipe simple and to be able to do it quickly at need with ingredients that are usually in every house. You can also try my other recipes as Skillet Chicken or Chicken and Brown Butter sauce with Capers.
Ingredients and tools:
The ingredients list is pretty simple. Let’s take a look at it:
- Garlic – use 5 cloves of fresh garlic. This should be enough for cooking 4 thighs.
- Butter – ½ cup of unsalted butter. I prefer to use high fat butter for this recipe.
- Chicken thighs – 4 pieces or how many you want to cook. I suggest to serve one per person together with a side dish. Use skin on and bone in chicken thighs.
- Salt and freshly grounded pepper.
The tools that I use:
- Carbon Steel Pan;
- Garlic press;
As you see from the ingredients and tool list, the recipe it’s pretty easy.
How to choose the best chicken meat
It’s always a hurdle to get the best chicken meat. For this recipe we will use chicken thighs with skin on and bone-in. Here is a small guide on how to choose your chicken meat:
- Skin color: should have a yellow tint. Take care that some farmers are feeding their chicken with food that will make the chicken skin and fat yellow-orange. This is because of the wrong perception that grain feed chicken should have yellow skin. You should avoid chicken with intense yellow or orange skin color.
- Meat color and appearance: should have a pinkish color. Check the meat for damages like bruising, or damages and avoid if found because this can affect the chicken quality and freshness. The meat should be plump and somehow resilient when you press on it, but should recover it’s shape in a few seconds.
- Dark meat (thighs, wings): should be dark pink with white-yellowish fat.
- Package liquid: avoid to buy chicken when there is a lot of liquid in the package. This is destroying the quality and taste of the chicken.
- Odorless: Fresh and good quality chicken meat should be odorless. You should not smell anything near the package and also at home when you open the package.
- Organic: It’s best to buy “Certified Organic” if possible. Also Free-Range chicken is a good option.
How to cook chicken thighs
For this recipe the cooking process is quite simple. You will need a good frying pan that can go also in the oven. I use a carbon steel pan that I use now daily for almost everything I cook (I keep it away from acidic food, but otherwise everything is cooked in it). You can also use a cast iron pan or as a last option a stainless-steel pan. Under no circumstances use a non-stick coated pan as they are not suitable for high temperatures.
- Ingredient preparation:
- Peel the garlic and crush it with a garlic press. Optionally, you can finely dice it.
- Pat dry the chicken and season it on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place aside the butter to have it ready when needed.
- Pan-fry the chicken:
- Place your pan on medium heat and add a bit of oil, just to have a shiny surface on the pan.
- Add the chicken thighs skin down in only one layer and fry them until the skin start to become golden crisp. To keep a nice searing on the meat, do not move it around. If you cannot flip them yet because they are sticking, wait a bit more.
- Turn the chicken thighs on the other side and place the butter in the pan.
- Once the butter has melted, add the garlic. Spoon the garlic butter mixture over the chicken thighs.
- Bake and serve:
- Preheat the oven to 392 F (200 Celsius) and add the pan with the chicken thighs inside.
- Bake the chicken thighs for roughly 30 minutes. To make sure that the chicken is well cooked, you can use a meat thermometer. You should measure 165 F (74 Celsius) in the thickest part of the meat.
- Take out the pan and spoon the garlic butter mixture over the chicken thighs again.
- Serve and enjoy!
Should you wash your chicken before cooking?
I heard this question a lot and I would like to settle it once for all. The answer is NO. You may hear people debating this, but do not fall into the trap. Washing chicken, it’s very dangerous for you and your family because you can contaminate your entire home with Salmonella. During the washing process juices from the chicken will be spilled all over the place and this can contaminate your kitchen and from there your entire home. It is recommended to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after handling raw chicken meat before you touch anything else.
Now, one of the main reasons I heard people want to wash their chicken, is because they are not sure how well it was handled before it was place into the package. I can say here, that by cooking it, you should not care anymore as the cooking process will destroy any bacteria, etc.
I leave here a link from CDC regarding chicken and food poisoning.
How long to cook chicken thighs in oven:
The cooking time depend on many factors. How big your chicken thighs are, bone in or not, and how cold they are. If you just remove them from the fridge, the cooking time will be longer. There are to many factors that can adjust the cooking time, so it’s best to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature in the thickest part should be 165 F (74 Celsius) in order to be safe from food poisoning.
Now, I can give you some usual times, when to check:
- If you sear the meat in a pan, and then place it in the oven, check after around 30 minutes;
- Boneless chicken thighs will take roughly 10 minutes less time to cook.
- If you place the meat directly into the oven from room temperature, check after 45 minutes.
Can I use boneless chicken thighs?
Yes, you can, but the bone-in chicken thighs will have more flavor. If you cannot find bone-in chicken thighs it’s ok to use the boneless ones. You should however try and have the ones with chicken skin on, otherwise you will not get that golden crispy skin. If you choose the boneless version, you can even skip the oven as they will cook faster. Just continue frying them on medium heat for another 5 minutes on each side. To be sure, that they are correctly cooked, use the meat thermometer.
How to fry skinless chicken thighs
Use the same steps as for the skin-on chicken thighs, namely pat-dry the thighs, season with salt and pepper, fry in a pan with a bit of oil for 5 minute on the first side, then turn over and reduce the heat to medium. Continue to cook until it reach the internal temperature of 165 F (74 Celsius).
Can you overcook chicken thighs?
This is a good question as one of the rules for cooking chicken is not to overcook it as it will become dry and leathery. This is particular true for chicken breasts. Guess what? For dark chicken meat you do not need to worry as it becomes even more tender if you cook it longer. Yes, you read it right, you can cook the chicken thighs longer without the risk of destroying it. It’s even better as you can make sure that it’s not undercooked if you do not have a meat thermometer.
How long does cooked chicken last?
According to USDA, cooked chicken can last up to 4 days if it’s stored properly. After that, even if you reheat it in the microwave it’s not safe to eat anymore. By reheating the chicken you will kill the growing bacteria, but not the toxin produces by them in the chicken meat. The bottom line, don’t eat chicken which was not stored correctly and if it’s older than 4 days. If you freeze your chicken, it can last up to 6 months.
How to store chicken thighs?
For short term storage, it’s best to use the fridge. Place the chicken thighs in a airtight container in maximum 2 hours after cooking and place it in the fridge. Why 2 hours? Because after 2 hours, the bacteria will start to grow very fast at room temperature. You have to avoid this and to stop this process.
For long term storage, use the freezer. Same rule apply here, place the chicken thighs in an freezer safe container and place it in the freezer in maximum 2 hours after cooking the chicken. Stored in this way, it can last up to 6 months.
How to reheat chicken thighs?
You can reheat the chicken thighs in the oven or in the microwave.
- How long to reheat chicken thighs in the oven? Assuming that your chicken thighs are at room temperature place them in the preheated oven at 392 F (200C) for 15 minutes.
- How long to reheat chicken thigh in microwave? Place the chicken thigh in a microwave safe dish and reheat it for 3 minutes at maximum power. If needed more, use 30 second heating intervals.
- How many calories are in a chicken thigh? One chicken thigh with skin will have roughly 300 calories, where one without skin will have about 208 calories. If you try to reduce your calories and fat content, then it’s better to use skinless chicken thighs. Here is a link from Healthline with the calories and fat content of different chicken cuts.
- How many chicken thighs per person? If you will use a side dish then one chicken thigh per person is enough. Without side dishes, I would serve 2 per person.
- How to defrost chicken thighs? The safest and recommended method is to defrost it in the fridge. Place the chicken thigh in a sealed sandwich bag and onto a plate so any juices that may leak will be caught in the plate. Leave it on the lower shelf of the fridge overnight.