Proof that going back to basics doesn’t have to taste basic: Grilled Chicken Thighs. Lightly charred outside and spectacularly juicy within, this is a speedy, lip-smacking dinner you’ll pull out all summer long.
Why You’ll Love This Smoky Grilled Chicken
- Juicy. Historically, I’ve been a Grilled Chicken Breast kind of girl, but in the last few years, I’ve seen the light that is chicken thighs. Chicken thighs are inherently juicier than chicken breast, making them much more difficult to dry out. Plus, these chicken thighs are marinated, meaning they’re extra juicy.
- Flavorful. Dark meat has a richer flavor than white meat. It’s one of the reasons Mr. Well Plated will pick Air Fryer Chicken Thighs (yes, you can cook chicken thighs in an air fryer!) over Air Fryer Chicken Breast every single time.
- Healthy. Chicken thighs are healthy! While they do have more fat than chicken breast (why they are juicier and more flavorful), they are still an excellent, lean source of protein that deserves to be in your diet. And, chicken thighs contain more vitamins and minerals than chicken breasts.
- Fast. If you’ve stayed away from chicken thighs because you think they take a long time to cook, prepare to be shocked. It only takes 8 to 10 minutes to grill boneless chicken thighs on a gas grill or charcoal grill (flip chicken thighs once halfway through grilling). They’re perfect for a fast and tasty dinner!
Grilled chicken enthusiasts, you’ll want to check out my Chicken Kabob recipe.
How to Make Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Thighs. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a healthy, flavorful, and quick protein option. Using skinless thighs helps to keep the chicken thigh calories low.
- Marinade. The key to grilling chicken thighs that are tender, juicy, and flavorful. Whether you choose to use one of my delicious homemade marinades, a spicy grilled chicken thighs marinade, or any other marinade is up to you.
- Oil. Oiling your grill grates helps ensure that the chicken does not stick.
- Marinate the Chicken. At least 30 minutes or up to 12 hours.
- Prep the Grill. Clean and oil your grates and preheat the grill (375 to 400 degrees F is the cooking temperature for grilled chicken thighs).
- Grill the Chicken. Chicken thighs need about 8 to 10 minutes at medium-high heat.
- Flip the Chicken Halfway Through. Yes, you do flip chicken thighs on the grill so you have even cooking and nice char marks.
- Rest. Let chicken rest for at least 5 minutes. Finish with herbs and lemon or lime juice. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm chicken in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 12 hours in advance, add the chicken thighs to the marinade. Refrigerate until you’re ready to grill.
Grilled chicken thighs are scrumptious on their own, and you can also use the leftovers in a variety of new ways. Add them to salads (like Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing), pastas (like Lemon Pasta), sandwiches (like Grilled Chicken Sandwich and Chicken Caesar Wrap), and quesadillas (like Chicken Quesadilla).
What to Serve with Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Salad. Perfect for Grilled Chicken Salad. Swap the chicken in this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad for diced grilled chicken thighs. For a delicious grilled combo, pair these thighs with Grilled Corn Salad.
- Potatoes. Keep it classic cookout with Potato Salad or use the grill to make Grilled Potatoes.
- Rice. Serve this chicken thighs recipe with a side of Lemon Rice or brown rice for a tasty meal.
- Pasta. Pasta Primavera or Sun Dried Tomato Pasta would be delicious with grilled chicken thighs.
- Veggies. Grilled chicken thighs would pair well with Oven Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Broccolini, or Grilled Corn (a cookout dream!).
- Homemade Salsa. Swap in chicken thighs for the grilled chicken breasts in this Grilled Chicken Breast with Strawberry Avocado Salsa.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Grill Pan. An easy way to grill chicken recipes inside.
- Tongs. Perfect for grilling recipes.
- Instant Read Thermometer. A meat thermometer is the best way to check the internal temperature of your meat.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Choose Your Own Marinade. You can use any marinade you like. This Chicken Thigh Marinade with soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and olive oil and this Chicken Marinade with lemon juice and spices are two excellent options, but feel free to use your favorite (even store-bought salad teriyaki sauce or salad dressing).
- Marinating Matters. Now that we’ve discussed the different marinade options, it’s also important to discuss how long to marinate. I recommend marinating chicken for at least 30 minutes, but even 15 minutes will work. If you’re able to refrigerate your chicken and let it marinate longer, I think 5 to 6 hours is the perfect amount of time. The marinade helps add flavor and keeps it from drying out on the grill, so don’t skip it!
- Use a Thermometer. If you’re planning to grill a lot and you don’t own an instant read thermometer, I highly recommend grabbing one. Aside from following the recommended cook time, they are the absolute best way to check for doneness and ensure you don’t overcook your chicken.
Grilled Chicken Thighs
- In large ziptop bag, combine all of the marinade ingredients, then add the chicken.
- Seal the bag to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Place in a pan or bowl to catch any drips. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate to marinate for up to 12 hours (5 to 6 hours is ideal). Even 15 minutes is better than nothing!
- When ready to grill, preheat the grill to medium-high (375 to 400°F). If your chicken has been in the refrigerator, remove it and allow it to come to room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grates.
- Place the chicken thighs on the grill presentation (smooth) side down, shaking off any excess marinade. Cover the grill and let cook 4 to 5 minutes on the first side, then flip. The chicken should lift off the grill relatively easily; if it is sticking, allow it to cook another minute or two, then try again.
- Continue cooking on the other side for 4 to 6 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through (chicken is considered cooked at 165°F. I remove mine around the 155/160°F mark and allow the carryover cooking to finish the rest). DO NOT OVERCOOK or your chicken will be dry.
- Remove the chicken to a plate, cover, and let rest for at least 5 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice as desired.
- TO MAKE OVEN GRILLED CHICKEN THIGHS: Place the chicken in a single layer in an oven-safe grill pan (don’t let the chicken touch). Preheat oven to 425°F. Bake the chicken for about 13 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes. 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.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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Frequently Asked Questions
You only need to flip them once, but if the chicken isn’t done yet and you want to even out how cooked they are on each side, you can feel free to flip them once or twice more.
For bone-in chicken thighs on the grill, cook over direct heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side, then move to indirect heat and continue cooking until the meat registers 165 degrees F.
You can make oven grilled chicken thighs using an oven safe grill pan. Place the chicken in a single layer in an oiled oven safe grill pan (don’t let the chicken touch). Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake the chicken for about 13 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly charred. Cover and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. (See my Baked Chicken Thighs for more inspiration.)
While we prefer to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, you can make this recipe with skin-on thighs. Grill chicken thighs skin-side down first to help it crisp up.
No, I do not recommend cooking chicken thighs from frozen. If you’d like to use chicken thighs that are frozen, I suggest letting them thaw completely before beginning the recipe.