The Ultimate Guide to Boiling Chicken Thighs to Perfection

Boiling chicken thighs is a simple and healthy cooking method that yields juicy, tender, and flavorful meat. Whether you’re preparing a quick weeknight dinner, a hearty soup, or prepping ingredients for a salad or casserole, boiled chicken thighs are a versatile and convenient option. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how long to boil chicken thighs for the best results every time.

Why Boil Chicken Thighs?

Boiling is a low-fat cooking technique that requires no added oils or fats, making it a healthier alternative to frying or sautéing. Additionally, boiling helps retain the natural flavors and juices of the chicken, resulting in moist and tender meat.

Boiled chicken thighs are also incredibly versatile. You can serve them as is with your favorite sides, shred or cube them for soups, salads, or sandwiches, or even use them as a base for other dishes like chicken salad or enchiladas.

Factors Affecting Boiling Time

The time required to boil chicken thighs can vary depending on a few key factors:

  1. Bone-in vs. Boneless: Bone-in chicken thighs take longer to cook through because the bones act as an insulator, slowing down the heat transfer to the center of the meat.

  2. Fresh vs. Frozen: Frozen chicken thighs require a longer cooking time since they start from a colder temperature and need to thaw before the cooking process can begin.

  3. Size of Chicken Thighs: Larger chicken thighs will take longer to cook through than smaller ones.

How Long to Boil Chicken Thighs

Based on extensive testing and research, here are the approximate boiling times for chicken thighs under different conditions:

  • Bone-in Fresh: 25-30 minutes
  • Bone-in Frozen: 45-50 minutes
  • Boneless Fresh: 20-25 minutes
  • Boneless Frozen: 30-35 minutes

It’s important to note that these times are approximate and can vary depending on the size of the chicken thighs and your desired level of doneness. Always use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the thighs has reached at least 165°F (74°C), which is the safe minimum temperature recommended by the USDA.

Step-by-Step Guide to Boiling Chicken Thighs

Follow these simple steps for perfectly boiled chicken thighs every time:

  1. Prepare the Chicken: Place the chicken thighs in a large pot or saucepan, arranging them in a single layer if possible.

  2. Season the Water: Add salt, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, or any other desired seasonings to the pot. This will infuse the chicken with flavor as it boils.

  3. Cover with Water: Pour enough cold water into the pot to cover the chicken thighs by about 2-3 inches.

  4. Bring to a Boil: Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil.

  5. Simmer and Cook: Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for the appropriate time based on the type of chicken thighs you’re using (see the time ranges above).

  6. Check for Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thighs. The chicken is fully cooked when the temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

  7. Rest and Serve: Remove the cooked chicken thighs from the pot and let them rest for a few minutes before serving or using them in your desired recipe.

Tips and Tricks

  • Skim the Foam: During the boiling process, you may notice a gray foam or scum forming on the surface of the water. Use a slotted spoon to skim off this foam, which will help keep the chicken and broth looking cleaner.

  • Add Aromatics: For extra flavor, you can add aromatic vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery to the pot while boiling the chicken.

  • Use the Cooking Liquid: The flavorful cooking liquid left behind after boiling the chicken can be used as a base for soups, sauces, or gravy.

  • Adjust Seasoning: Taste the boiled chicken and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or your favorite spices and herbs before serving or using in other dishes.

  • Shred or Cube: For recipes that call for shredded or cubed chicken, let the boiled thighs cool slightly before using your hands or two forks to shred or dice the meat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I boil chicken thighs from frozen?

Yes, you can boil chicken thighs straight from the freezer. However, you’ll need to add an additional 15-20 minutes to the cooking time to account for the frozen state of the meat.

Can I boil bone-in and boneless chicken thighs together?

While it’s possible to boil bone-in and boneless chicken thighs together, it’s not recommended. The different cooking times required for each type can lead to overcooked or undercooked chicken. It’s best to boil them separately for optimal results.

How long can I store boiled chicken thighs?

Cooked chicken thighs can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If you plan to freeze them, shred or cube the meat and store it in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.

Can I reheat boiled chicken thighs?

Yes, you can reheat boiled chicken thighs in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven. Be sure to heat them until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure food safety.


Boiling chicken thighs is a simple, healthy, and versatile cooking method that yields delicious results every time. By following the guidelines outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to achieve perfectly cooked, juicy, and tender chicken thighs that can be used in a variety of dishes. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, mastering the art of boiling chicken thighs is a valuable skill that will serve you well for countless meal preparations.

How Long to Boil Chicken Thighs – Stop Overcooking!


How long does it take to boil chicken thighs?

Boneless chicken thighs will take about 10 minutes to cook. Bone-in chicken thighs will take about 15 minutes to cook.

Is 30 minutes enough to boil chicken?

For boneless, skinless chicken breasts, it will take about 15 minutes. For bone-in, skin-on chicken, cook for about 30 minutes. Always test for doneness using a meat thermometer.

How long does it take to boil chicken legs?

Fresh chicken legs (Min)
Frozen chicken legs (Min)
Small (6-8 oz)
20-25 minutes
30-35 minutes
Medium (8-10 oz)
25-30 minutes
35-40 minutes
Large (10-12 oz)
30-35 minutes
40-45 minutes

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