This Grilled Chicken Thighs recipe guarantees juicy and super flavorful chicken every time! With 5 minutes of prep, it is made using simple pantry spices, spectacular on its own or made into a tacos, sandwiches, burritos or even put on top of a salad!
I'm always looking for quick and easy chicken recipes like this air fryer teriyaki chicken or air fryer chicken tenders for easy meals. With the weather getting warmer, I decided to fire up my grill and share an easy grilled chicken thighs recipe.
It is simple enough to be enjoyed hot off the grill with a yogurt sauce, like the chicken tikka kebab recipe or made into a plethora of dishes for lunch or dinner. Best of all, you will probably have most of the ingredients on hand like the blackened chicken. There's no chopping or dicing. Simply toss, marinade and grill!
Why this recipe works?
- It begins with the best cut of meat for grilling! Thighs are inherently juicier than breasts, making them much more difficult to dry out.
- The flavorful marinade is made with pantry staples and there’s loads of substitution options to customize it.
- Cook on a gas, charcoal or on the stove using a grill pan.
- The seasoning blend is forgiving and the recipe can be scaled up or down to feed the entire neighborhood or just your family on a weeknight.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Boneless chicken thighs - It the best cut of chicken for grilling. It’s juicier and has more flavor than breasts, much easier to cook, and less prone to drying out.
- Spices - It is crucial for some serious flavor and punch. This spice blend is a mix of everyday spices, but feel free to play around with whatever you have on hand.
- Olive oil - Keeps it juicy and helps the thighs not stick to the grill!
- Lemon - To balance the spiciness and tenderize the meat.
Use bone-in chicken thighs - Sear marinated bone-in chicken thighs over medium-high heat, grill 2-3 minutes per side until skin turns golden brown, taking care not to char. Move chicken pieces to slightly cooler side (medium-low heat) and cook, covered, until internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Substitutions & Variations
Switch up the spices! Use smoked paprika instead of regular paprika. Leave out the cayenne. Add some cumin to bring home the smokiness. Use lime juice or vinegar instead of lemon juice. Toss in some minced cilantro or parsley along with the marinade. Use fresh minced garlic instead of garlic powder.
How to make?
1. Add chili powder, paprika, ground coriander, garlic, cayenne, onion, salt, sugar and black pepper into a large bowl.
2 & 3. Add extra virgin olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
4. Stir until it is evenly combined.
5 & 6. Add boneless skinless chicken thighs into the marinade and toss until every thigh is evenly coated with the spice mix. Let marinade for a few hours.
Tip: How long to marinade? I recommend marinating for at least 30 minutes, but if you’re able to refrigerate your chicken, then let it marinate longer - 4 to 6 hours will give you a flavor packed meat. The salt will penetrate into the muscle and make room for more moisture. Juicier grilled chicken thighs, yum!
7. Pre heat a gas, charcoal or grill pan until moderately hot and place thighs, smooth side down and cook for about 6 minutes.
Pro tip: How often do you flip? Once! Resist your urge to flip them constantly. This is essential in developing the iconic grill marks and achieve a caramelized exterior. However, it is also important to pay attention that the meat is not browning too fast. Then move your meat to a cooler part of the grill or adjust the heat, to continue cooking.
8. Flip thighs and continue cooking for an additional 5 to 7 minutes or until the meat registers 165 degrees.
Pro tip - Let it rest! If you cut open a hot cooked piece of meat, a deluge of juices start flowing onto the cutting board, resulting in a less juicy and flavorful meat (find more details on the importance of resting meat by Kenji Lopez Alt). Remove grilled chicken thighs and set them on a plate to rest for around 10 minutes. This will get the juices distribute themselves more evenly throughout its interior.
How to serve?
This grilled chicken thighs is spectacular served with yogurt sauce! Slice the meat and make into tacos, sandwiches, burritos, wraps or even on top of a salad.
How to store?
- In the fridge - Keep grilled chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.
- In the freezer - Freeze leftovers in an airtight, freezer-safe container or zip lock bag for up to 2 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
- To reheat - Just microwave for a minute or two or reheat in the air fryer at 350 degrees until warmed through.
- Grease the hot grill grates or pan by rubbing with an oiled paper towel.
- It’s best to cook at medium to medium-high heat, making sure to rotate the meat in and around the “hot spots” on the grill. But, resist your urge to keep flipping constantly!
- Look for a charred and caramelized golden brown color with a temperature of 165°F in the thickest part with a meat thermometer.
- Resting is crucial with grilled chicken thighs to get the juices flowing back into the meat.
The fool proof method to check if your grilled chicken thighs is done, is to use a meat thermometer to check if the internal temperature of 165 degrees. It can also prevent over cooking your meat.
It should take about 5 to 7 minutes on each side over medium heat or until the internal temperature registers 165°F, when checked with a meat thermometer. Remove from grill, and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving. This will not only finish cooking but also let the juices flow back into the meat.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a wire rack inside a baking sheet and then place the marinated thighs on top of the wire rack. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway through and then broil for 2 to 3 minutes to mimic the char of grilled chicken thighs.
Pre heat air fryer to 400°F for 11 minutes. When hot, place chicken thighs, smooth side down into the basket and cook. Flip over after about 6 minutes, cook for remaining time, until cooked through.
More easy chicken recipes for dinner
Grilled Chicken Thighs
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic, minced)
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon white or brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne, optional
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt, use according to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Combine all ingredients (except chicken) in a large bowl or a freezer bag and mix well.
- Add chicken thighs, toss well until evenly coated and allow to marinate at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours (in the fridge).
- Preheat a grill to medium heat. Add chicken thighs, cook 5-7 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked (or until chicken reaches 165°F). Rest 5 minutes before serving. It is delicious served with this yogurt sauce. Tip: Let it rest! If you cut open a hot cooked piece of meat, a deluge of juices start flowing onto the cutting board, resulting in a less juicy and flavorful meat. Remove grilled chicken thighs and set them on a plate to rest for 5-10 minutes. This will get the juices distribute themselves more evenly throughout its interior.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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