23 Reasons Chicken Thighs Have a Leg Up on White Meat

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts may be the top-selling cut at the supermarket, but shrewd cooks know that chicken thighs are actually the way to go. Not only are they less expensive, they’re also more flavorful, juicier, and harder to mess up than their white meat counterparts. We love these 23 recipes, which show off the chicken thigh’s versatility.

1. Slow Cooker Asian-Style Chicken Thighs

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Let the slow cooker do the legwork on our Chinese-inspired chicken and rice, made fragrant with smoky, licoricelike star anise and sweet cinnamon sticks.

2. Ethiopian Doro Wat

Photo and recipe from Food Republic

Doro wat, a chicken and boiled egg stew that’s been cooked with clarified butter, aromatics, and berbere spices, is the most popular dish in Ethiopia. Prepare a version of it served straight out of the pot with flatbread for dipping.

3. Braised Buffalo Chicken Thighs

Photo and recipe from CHOW

A chicken dinner can be the opposite of boring, especially if you go the route of Buffalo-style chicken thighs. Pan-fry the thighs skin-side down until crackling before coating them with a gutsy chipotle, vinegar, and brown sugar sauce.

4. Slow Cooker Chicken Thighs with Olives and Fennel

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Looking for a dinner that’s virtually zero effort? This slow cooker mustard, olive, and fennel braise has your name on it.

5. One-Pot Paprika Chicken Thighs

Photo and recipe from Reluctant Entertainer

This one-pot wonder is beautiful enough for company, yet easy enough to pull together on a weeknight. Carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes aren’t just thrown in for color and flavor; they also make the chicken dish a balanced meal.

6. Thai Green Curry Chicken Thighs

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Why order Thai takeout when an inviting pot of coconut curry chicken is only a little over an hour away? Our recipe calls for simmering the chicken with green beans and bell pepper, but you could do the same with snow peas, mushrooms, or just about any other vegetable.

7. Shish Taouk with Toum

Photo and recipe from Food52

Shish taouk, a popular kebab in Syria, begins with marinating chicken in a yogurt-lemon sauce. Grill the meat until smoky, then serve it on warm flatbread, smothered in garlic sauce.

8. Chicken and Ginger Clay Pot

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Even if you don’t have a clay pot at home, you can still re-create this popular Chinese chicken dish using a Dutch oven.

9. Braised Chicken and Chayote

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Chayote, a wildly underrated vegetable that’s sweet and starchy with a slightly fruity flavor, makes an ideal complement to skillet-seared chicken thighs.

10. Easy Teriyaki Chicken

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Add soy, honey, and ginger to chicken thighs, and you have one of the world’s most beloved recipes: teriyaki chicken.

11. Dak Gui (Korean Grilled Chicken)

Photo and recipe from CHOW

Think of Korean dak gui, with its garlic, scallions, malt syrup, and sesame, as teriyaki’s more complex, sophisticated older sister. Not surprisingly, the sauce is a lovely marinade for grilled chicken.

12. Chipotle Grilled Chicken Thighs With Spicy Tomatillo Sauce

Recipe and photo from CHOW

Next time you feel like grilled chicken, hold the barbecue sauce and reach for a chipotle-coriander rub instead. Once it’s developed a nicely-charred exterior, serve it with a creamy avocado-tomatillo sauce.

13. Gong Bao Ji Ding

Recipe and photo from Food52

Chop chicken into bite-sized pieces and stir-fry it with red bell peppers and snow peas for a stir-fry supper that’s lightning-fast.

14. Chicken and Israeli Couscous with Tomato and Lemon

Recipe and photo from Whole Living

In this one-pot meal, drippings from chicken thighs add flavor to a saffron- and lemon-tinged pearl couscous that’s studded with peas and tomatoes.

15. Pulled Jerk Chicken Sandwiches

Recipe and photo from CHOW

Smother chicken thighs in a spicy-sweet Caribbean marinade and let them simmer away in the slow cooker until pull-apart tender. The result is particularly satisfying between two pieces of crusty bread.

16. Rhubarb-Braised Chicken Thighs

Photo and recipe from CHOW

If you like sweet and sour pork, then you’ll probably love this recipe, which has a similar flavor profile but incorporates fresh, seasonal ingredients like rhubarb and shallots.

17. Quicker Chicken and Okra Gumbo

Recipe and photo from Serious Eats

Skinless, boneless chicken thighs, which cook quickly, serve as a natural base for a fast and easy weeknight gumbo.

18. Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

Recipe and photo from Bon Appétit

Sometimes the simplest foods are the best, like pan-roasted thighs seared in oil until crackling and seasoned with just a little bit of salt and fresh pepper.

19. Ginger Chicken Jook

Recipe and photo from CHOW

Thighs adds protein, bite, and plenty of meatiness to a warming Chinese rice porridge.

20. Griddled Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Recipe and photo from Salt & Wind

These tacos are layered with refried beans, grilled onions, and shredded cheese before being toasted in a skillet, just like a quesadilla.

21. French Chicken Kebabs

Recipe and photo from CHOW

For grilled chicken kebabs that are markedly different, infuse your meat with the assertive French flavors of orange, black olive, fennel, and whole-grain mustard.

22. Oyako Don

Recipe and photo from Food52

The Japanese were in a good-humored state when they named this chicken and egg dish, which comes from the word oyako, meaning “parent and child.” Both chicken and eggs take on flavor from a mixture of sake, sugar, mirin, and soy sauce before being served over rice.

23. Creamy Braised Chicken with Pappardelle

Recipe and photo from The Kitchn

Braise leg meat in onions, garlic, white wine, and stock, then use that cooking liquid to create a creamy sauce for wide ribbons of pappardelle pasta.

 

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she's not cooking or writing, she's on the hunt to find the world's best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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