Grilling Juicy and Flavorful Chicken Thighs: A Complete Guide

Chicken thighs are a favorite among backyard grillers for their delicious flavor and affordability. Whether you prefer boneless or bone-in, grilling chicken thighs is a straightforward process that yields delectable results when done right. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the art of grilling chicken thighs to perfection, ensuring juicy and tender meat bursting with flavor.

Why Grill Chicken Thighs?

There are several compelling reasons to choose chicken thighs for your next grilling adventure:

  1. Flavor: Chicken thighs are naturally more flavorful than chicken breasts due to their higher fat content. The dark meat packs a punch of savory goodness.

  2. Moisture: The extra fat in chicken thighs helps keep the meat moist and juicy, even if you accidentally overcook them a bit.

  3. Affordability: Compared to other cuts of chicken, thighs are generally more budget-friendly, making them an economical choice for feeding a crowd.

  4. Versatility: Chicken thighs are a blank canvas for a wide variety of marinades, rubs, and sauces, allowing you to experiment with different flavors.

Grilling Temperatures and Times

Getting the temperature and timing right is crucial for perfectly grilled chicken thighs. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Preheat the Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat, between 400°F and 450°F (205°C and 230°C). This temperature range ensures that the chicken thighs will cook through without burning on the outside.

  • Boneless vs. Bone-In: Boneless chicken thighs will typically cook faster than bone-in thighs. Here’s a general guideline:

    • Boneless Chicken Thighs: Grill for approximately 6-7 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
    • Bone-In Chicken Thighs: Grill for approximately 10-13 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  • Use a Meat Thermometer: Using an instant-read meat thermometer is the most reliable way to ensure your chicken thighs are cooked through. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, and remove the thighs from the grill once they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Preparing and Seasoning Chicken Thighs

Before firing up the grill, it’s essential to prepare and season your chicken thighs for maximum flavor:

  1. Dry the Chicken: Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels to ensure even browning and crisping on the grill.

  2. Season Generously: Generously season the chicken thighs with your preferred seasoning blend. A simple mix of salt, pepper, and your favorite dried herbs or spices works well. Alternatively, you can use a store-bought seasoning blend or a marinade for added flavor.

  3. Oil the Chicken (Optional): Lightly coat the chicken thighs with oil (olive oil, avocado oil, or your preferred cooking oil) to help prevent sticking and promote browning.

Grilling Techniques

Follow these grilling techniques for perfectly cooked and flavorful chicken thighs:

  1. Start Skin-Side Down (for Bone-In): If grilling bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, start with the skin-side down on the grill grates. This will render the fat and crisp up the skin beautifully.

  2. Use Direct Heat: Chicken thighs are best grilled over direct heat, meaning they are placed directly over the heat source. This high-heat cooking method ensures a nicely charred exterior and a juicy interior.

  3. Flip Only Once: Resist the urge to flip the chicken thighs multiple times. Flipping only once during the cooking process helps prevent the loss of valuable juices and ensures even browning.

  4. Baste or Brush with Sauce (Optional): If using a sauce or glaze, wait until the last few minutes of grilling to brush it on. Applying it too early can cause the sauce to burn or char excessively.

  5. Let the Chicken Rest: Once the chicken thighs reach the desired internal temperature, remove them from the grill and let them rest for 5-10 minutes. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful final product.

Serving Suggestions

Grilled chicken thighs are incredibly versatile and can be served in a variety of ways:

  • Main Dish: Serve the grilled chicken thighs as the main course, accompanied by your favorite sides like roasted vegetables, salads, or grilled corn on the cob.

  • Protein for Salads or Wraps: Slice or shred the grilled chicken thighs and use them as a protein source for hearty salads, wraps, or sandwiches.

  • Meal Prep: Grilled chicken thighs make excellent meal prep options. Cook a large batch and portion them out for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

  • Dipping Sauces: Offer a variety of dipping sauces on the side, such as barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, or honey mustard, to complement the flavors of the grilled chicken thighs.

With these tips and techniques, you’ll be well on your way to grilling juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked chicken thighs every time. Fire up the grill, and let the delicious aroma of sizzling chicken thighs fill your backyard!

Beginners Guide to Grilling Chicken Thighs


How long should chicken thighs rest after grilling?

Cover and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. TO STORE: Refrigerate leftover thighs in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. TO REHEAT: Rewarm chicken in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave.

How long to grill chicken on gas grill?

While all grills are different, most of the time you’ll be golden if you grill your chicken breasts for about 9-10 minutes, flipping the chicken breasts over at the halfway point so you get beautiful, even sear marks on each side of the chicken.

How long does it take to grill bone in chicken thighs on the grill?

Grill, covered, until a thermometer registers 165°F when inserted into thickest part of a chicken thigh, 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through grilling. Remove from grill, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

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