Easy recipe for boneless skinless chicken thighs in cast iron skillet.
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Dark chicken meat is our favorite and we always have boneless skinless thighs in the freezer. There is nothing boring about them despite the characterless name.
In a few easy steps (no brining required) you can turn them into a delicious weeknight dinner with a variety of flavorful personality options for the pan sauce. (We list a few ideas for tasty twists below.)
Note that you can go all stove top with the cast iron skillet or start on the stove top and finish in the oven. We tend to favor the second approach because the dry oven heat contributes to a nice, crispy finish on top of the skinless thighs, while on the inside they remain moist and juicy, being partially submerged in the pan liquids.
What You’ll Need
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs. Be sure to defrost them ahead of time, then bring them to room temperature before you start cooking (about 15 minutes on the countertop does it).
- Cooking oil. Olive oil is our go-to.
- Flour. To coat the chicken thighs before you brown them. It helps create a nice crust and also slightly thickens the pan sauce as they cook. You can substitute with corn starch or omit it entirely.
- Salt & pepper. To season the chicken meat. Use to taste, but on the generous side.
- Garlic. Rough chop. Pieces too small will easily burn in the hot oil.
- Thyme. Use fresh if you can. Substitute with other complementary herbs such as rosemary, sage or oregano.
- Blonde beer/white wine. If you delgaze the pan with either one your pan sauce will acquire a depth of flavor it won’t otherwise. Deglaze with a bit of chicken stock instead.
- Chicken stock. To form the base of the pan sauce and keep the chicken thighs moist as they cook.
- Cast Iron Skillet. A 10 inch diameter one works great if you are cooking up to 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, for more choose a 12 inch skillet.
TIP: Always keep chicken stock in your fridge or pantry. If you do not deglaze with beer/wine you can always use it instead. It also infuses couscous, quinoa and rice with savory goodness.
Workflow for Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs in Cast Iron Skillet
- Prep. Trim excess fat from the chicken thighs, but leave a bit – it will make the pan sauce taste even better as it melts away during the cooking process. Pat dry and coat in a mixture of flour, salt and pepper.
- Heat. Turn on the oven to 350 F (skip for the stove top only method). Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high until it gets hot.
- Sear. Working in batches sear the chicken thighs until golden brown on each side. Remove to a warm plate.
- Deglaze. Lower the heat to medium and temporarily move the skillet away from the stove burner. If no oil remains add about 1 tsp. After about a minute add the garlic and thyme and move around until they become fragrant. Deglaze with a bit of beer or white wine or chicken stock (#5). Scrape brown bits from the bottom of the skillet.
- Simmer. Place the skillet back on the burner and return the chicken thighs. Add the rest of the beer (or white wine), then the chicken stock & bring to simmer. It will smell amazing.
- Finish. Transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking or simply leave it on the stove, partially covered with a lid.
NOTE: Boneless skinless chicken thighs are food safe at 165 F internal temperature. Always use a meat thermometer inserted in the very center of the largest piece to measure the temperature.
That being said, if you cook them a bit longer they will not be dry. Typically when we are ready to proclaim ours done the temperature is already 180-190 F.
The pan sauce you will end up with is delicious – drizzle it generously over each individual serving of chicken thighs. Or, simply serve the entire skillet family style (spoon some pan sauce over each thigh just before you present them). Garnish with fresh thyme.
A few complementary sides that can be prepared quickly while the chicken is cooking are:
- Couscous – we like to cook ours in chicken stock and add chopped fresh herbs after seasoning it with salt and pepper (shown in picture below).
- Rice – prepare your favorite.
- Quinoa – same method as the couscous.
- Potatoes – we frequently make these quick saucy beer potatoes. Or make mashed or roasted potatoes in advance and keep them warm.
- Veggies – sauteed, grilled or oven roasted.
- Salads – including pasta or barley salad.
Flavor Twists for Skillet Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Shallots. Use a couple of finely chopped shallots instead of garlic. Saute them with picked thyme leaves or dried thyme for about 2 minutes, then deglaze.
- Other fresh herbs. Use rosemary, sage or oregano instead of thyme. Cider works great as deglazing liquid when sage is the herb of choice.
- Creamy honey mustard. Deglaze the skillet with chicken stock and then add a mixture of 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, 2 tbsp honey, 1/2 cup chicken stock and 1 cup of heavy cream.
Other Chicken Recipes You Might Enjoy
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs*
- 1 1/2 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt (increase to taste)
- 1/2 tsp pepper (increase to taste)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 3-4 cloves garlic, rough chop
- 4-5 sprigs thyme plus more for garnish**
- 1 cup blonde beer or 1/3 cup white wine***
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- Bring the chicken thighs to room temperature and trim any excess fat (some fat left is desirable as it adds flavor to the pan sauce). Pat dry. Mix flour, salt and pepper and dredge the chicken thighs. Set aside.
- Turn on the oven to 350 F. (Skip if you'd rather use the stove top only).
- Heat the cast iron skillet over medium-high. When hot add the oil. Working in batches sear the flour mixture coated chicken thighs on both sides until golden. Remove to a warm plate.
- Lower the heat to medium. Temporarily place the skillet on a cold burner to allow it to cool down for 1 minute.
- Add 1 tsp cooking oil to the skillet if needed. Add the rough chopped garlic and the thyme and move around the skillet until fragrant. Deglaze with about 1/4 cup beer or white wine and scrape off brown bits from the bottom.
- Return the chicken thighs to the skillet, place the skillet on the original burner. Add the rest of the beer (if using wine to deglaze no wine is being added at this step). Add the chicken stock and bring to simmer.
- Transfer to the oven to finish cooking until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs registers 165 F when measured in the thickest center parts. Alternatively, partially cover with a lid and let simmer until chicken is 165 F. Spoon a bit of pan sauce over the thighs. Serve garnished with thyme.
*Typically made up of 6 thighs, some smaller than others.
**Substitute with rosemary, sage or oregano.
***Substitute with 1 cup chicken stock for non-alcoholic version. Otherwise the reason you would use less white wine than beer is its higher alcohol content. Using too much wine can easily overpower the flavors in the dish.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 474Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 278mgSodium: 1051mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 57g