This 5-ingredient cast iron chicken thighs recipe is a must-have for easy weeknight dinners! The chicken becomes incredibly crispy on the outside while staying tender and juicy on the inside!
One of my favorite kitchen tools is the cast iron skillet. This humble pan produces the most epic dinners because it conducts heat like a pro. It’s the best way to achieve a gorgeous sear, like with my cast iron salmon, cast iron chicken breast, cast iron steak, and more!
Chicken thighs is next in a long line of delicious and perfectly seared proteins. The sizzling hot pan works magic to transform the chicken skin into a crispy golden crust you won’t want to wait to sink your teeth into. Meanwhile, the inside retains its natural juices!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- It’s just plain easy. Like pan fried chicken, searing the chicken in a hot cast iron skillet before letting it finish cooking in the oven is a foolproof way of making an epic chicken dinner in less than 30 minutes.
- Put your own spin on it. Fresh garlic, salt, and pepper are a flavorful trio that easily enhances the pan-seared chicken thighs. But if you want to take these flavors up a notch, head to the Flavor Variations for more fun ways to season the chicken.
- A crowd-pleasing dinner. No one can say no to beautifully seared, crispy, and juicy chicken thighs.
- A staple protein option. You can always rely on chicken thighs when you need a flavorful, yet easy protein to serve for dinner. Pair them with easy sides to keep your time in the kitchen stress-free.
This is a really simple chicken thigh dinner recipe made with budget-friendly and easy-to-find ingredients. Here’s what you need:
- Chicken thighs. Skin-on chicken thighs are preferred because the skin becomes golden and crispy after searing. Both bone-in and boneless skinless chicken thighs work as well.
- Olive oil. To prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan and to help the skin become golden brown.
- Butter. Unsalted butter gives the pan-seared chicken a rich flavor.
- Garlic. Fresh cloves.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to make crispy chicken thighs in a cast iron
Step 1- Season the chicken. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Step 2- Sear the chicken thighs. Heat the cast iron skillet and once hot, add the olive oil and butter, followed by the seasoned chicken thighs. Cook skin side down until they’re golden brown and crispy on one side. Flip the thighs so they can crisp on the other side. Add the minced garlic into the pan at this point.
Step 3- Bake. Transfer the skillet to a preheated oven. Bake until the chicken thighs are cooked through.
Step 4- Rest and serve. Once they’re done, let the thighs rest for a few minutes on a cutting board before slicing and serving. Enjoy!
Ideal cooking time
Depending on the size or weight of the chicken thighs, there is no precise cooking time. However, the best way to check if the chicken is cooked is to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Fully cooked chicken is safe to eat once it reaches 165F.
Recipe tips and variations
- Start with dry chicken. For any protein that you want to have a crispy exterior, ALWAYS pat it dry with a paper towel before adding any oils or seasonings. Trust me, it makes all the difference.
- Always preheat the skillet. Cooking chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet that’s been thoroughly pre-heated is always the best way to go. The hot temperature will prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan while giving it a golden color and helping it crisp.
- Swap the seasonings. Take the flavor up a notch by swapping the salt and pepper for Italian seasoning, taco seasoning, poultry seasonings, BBQ dry rub, lemon pepper seasoning, or blackened seasoning. Fresh herbs work well too, like parsley or Rosemary.
- Use a marinade. Deepen the flavor by soaking the thighs in a chicken thigh marinade, or any marinade of choice for 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours.
What to serve with cast iron skillet chicken?
Make these chicken thighs the main protein at dinner! They’re sure to be a hit. You can pair them with practically any side dish, including starches, vegetables, salads, or bread.
You can put any leftovers to use in your weekly lunches or add them on top of a green salad, bake them into a casserole, or stuff them into a wrap for extra protein.
To store: Place the leftover chicken thighs in an airtight container and store them in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.
To freeze: Place the cooked and cooled chicken in a freezer-safe container or bag and freeze for up to 6 months. Let them thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Heat the leftover thighs in a baking dish in a 350ºF oven until they’re warmed through.
Frequently asked questions
After searing, these chicken thighs should take around 12 to 15 minutes to cook to a safe internal temperature of 165ºF. However, this time can vary depending on the thickness of the thighs and whether you’re using bone-in or boneless thighs (bone-in thighs usually take longer to cook).
Absolutely! Just remember to let the frozen chicken thaw in the fridge before adding the seasonings and cooking.
Make these chicken thighs the main protein at dinner and add side dishes to complete it. My family enjoys some air fryer baked potatoes, stuffed potatoes, and stuffed sweet potatoes. For some greens, some sauteed asparagus or sauteed brussels sprouts are always some speedy options.
More chicken thigh recipes to try:
- Pollo Asado– Mexico’s answer to grilled or roasted chicken.
- Peruvian Chicken– Don’t skip the green sauce.
- Sous Vide Chicken Thighs– 100% worth the sous vide machine.
- Huli Huli Chicken– My family’s favorite dinner.
- Grilled Boneless Chicken Thighs– Foolproof recipe.
- Peri Peri Chicken– Who needs Nandos?
- Honey garlic chicken thighs– Another weeknight dinner favorite.
Cast Iron Chicken Thighs
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
- Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Cook chicken thighs, skin side down, for 6-8 minutes, or until golden and crispy
- Flip the chicken thighs, add minced garlic, and transfer the skillet to the oven.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Let chicken thighs rest in the skillet for a few minutes.
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