2 Quick & Easy Chicken Thigh Recipes Our Senior Editor Swears By

One sweet, one spicy.

October 11, 2018

We've partnered with Just BARE Chicken, producers of humane-certified chicken, to share recipes, videos, and tips that make preparing not-boring, weeknight-friendly meals easy as can be.

There is, for me, no greater cut of poultry than the uber-versatile chicken thigh. Boneless or bone-in, skinless or skin-on, they stay juicy no matter what, and you can use them in just about anything.

Weeknight tacos? Sure. Slow-cooked curries? Duh! 5-minute quesadillas? Hey, they don’t call me the Chicken Thigh King for nothing. (Just kidding. No one calls me that.)

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Top Comment:
“Chicken thighs are my favourite cut. So much more flavour (than white meat) and more economical. What's not to like?! The two recipes look brilliant and cannot wait to try them. I love that you use the coriander stems too. ”
— Michael T.

I’ve found that by far, the easiest method is to roast off a whole sheet pan of thighs and eat them every which way for a few meals. Dinner becomes lunch and back to dinner again—and I’m a happy bird.

After a quick soak in our favorite marinade, boneless, skinless Just BARE chicken thighs are perfect in tacos. Photo by Bobbi Lin

To keep things interesting, it helps to have a few go-to seasonings in rotation. My current favorites, which take just five to 10 minutes of prep, are this jalapeno-cilantro marinade for spicy, vibrant chicken thighs and my brown sugar–paprika dry rub for smoky-sweet chicken thighs. They both work well whether you’ve got 30 minutes or 30 hours before dinner needs to be on the table; either way, setting aside a few moments of prep time will yield massive rewards later.

The idea here is that you're giving yourself options for dinner, depending on your mood and what you're craving, and then whatever's leftover can easily be transformed for lunch the next day. In this way, chicken thighs become so much more than just chicken thighs—they become a formula.

OK, here's how it all goes down:

If You're Feeling Spicy...

  • Make the jalapeño-cilantro marinade. In a food processor or blender, blitz the jalapeños, garlic, cilantro stems, olive oil, salt, sugar, and pepper and toss with boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the marinade will penetrate the meat better than bone-in, skin-on).
  • Watch TV—or go to bed. Leave the chicken thighs to marinate in the fridge for 4 hours or, if this is you meal prepping, overnight. If you don’t have the time, feel free to let them marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking them off. They’ll still taste great.
  • Cook them off! When you’re ready to roll, drain your chicken in a colander to get rid of excess marinade. Then, lay them on a sheet pan and roast at 400° F for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Eat them like this: If I’m roasting off, say, two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, then I have enough for at least four tacos, and maybe a rice bowl the next day. Any leftover chicken I’ll have with a side of coconut rice and a side salad.

If You’re Feeling Sweet…

  • Make the Magic Spice Blend. Spoon the brown sugar, salt, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and celery seed into a Mason jar and shake. I like to keep this by my stove to sprinkle over everything: fried eggs, sliced cucumbers, chicken. Sprinkle it on the underside of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, place them on a sheet pan (skin-side up), then season the skins lightly with more rub before cooking off.
  • Watch TV—or go to bed. Like the marinade, you could let these sit for 30 minutes or so before roasting. More often than not, I’ll sprinkle the chicken with the spice mix the night before, have them all ready on a sheet tray, and then just bake them off straight out of the fridge. This kind of cooking is ideal for weeknight dinners, but it also makes entertaining large hungry hordes quite manageable.
  • Cook them off! Roast at 400° F for 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Because you’re using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (and because the spice blend is dry) you’ll end up with the crispiest skin, and the sugar will caramelize and taste divine.
  • Eat them like this: Since I bake a whole tray of these, I’ll have one or two thighs with white rice and a side salad for dinner the first night. The next day, I might make cheesy, 5-minute quesadillas for breakfast and have a salad topped with any leftover cold chicken for lunch.

These are just two examples of quick, simple ways you can zhush up the everyday chicken thigh. All you need is a good starting point, and then you can take it in any direction. Sometimes I like to marinate chicken thighs in lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and a little sesame oil; I might serve that alongside some roasted fennel. Or for a warmer flavor perfect for fall, I’ll dust them with a fifty-fifty mix of cumin and coriander, lots of salt, pepper, and olive oil, and roast them on a sheet pan with butternut squash; it's an entire meal (complete with a side dish!) all in one.

Whatever I’m in the mood for, chicken thighs seem always to save the day.

How do you like to cook your chicken thighs? Let us know in the comments below!

Feeding your family delicious food doesn't need to be stressful or time-consuming. In partnership with Just BARE Chicken—producers of all-natural, humane-certified chicken that can be traced across the whole supply chain so you know exactly where you food comes from—we're excited to share creative, easy ways to cook with chicken, from marinades to sheet-pan dinners.


Binu October 15, 2018
Hi, I use a similar spice dry for spicy fried fish minus the sugar. It was passed on from my mom, should try your version soon.<br /> I'm planning to do an inspired version with green bell peppers, onions, garlic marinade.i don't use jalapeno. Will let you know how it turns out.
Author Comment
Eric K. October 15, 2018
Hi Binu, that would taste really nice. The jalapeños give a nice clean pepper taste, which is the most important part of this recipe; the bell peppers will mimic that note.
Michael T. October 11, 2018
Hi Eric. Great seeing you in action. Love the chicken thighs recipes. Chicken thighs are my favourite cut. So much more flavour (than white meat) and more economical. What's not to like?! The two recipes look brilliant and cannot wait to try them. I love that you use the coriander stems too.
Author Comment
Eric K. October 11, 2018
Thanks so much, Michael. Well, *I* love that you call them coriander stems!