These fried boneless chicken thighs are just like the ones you’ll experience at Manhattan’s Egg Shop. Trust us. The famously crisp, juicy, chile- and brown sugar-brined bird is not something to be missed.
These fried boneless chicken thighs are crunchy, juicy, salty, spicy fried chicken thigh perfection that’s then—yes, there’s more!—drizzled with honey and sprinkled with coarse sea salt to make it even more unexpectedly astounding.
Kindly note, this crispy fried chicken is not a last-minute, after-soccer, Tuesday night affair, though. To achieve such fried chicken stardom, boneless chicken thighs are first brined for juiciness and then marinated in buttermilk and spices before being fried to golden perfection. And it’s worth every moment. What you pull out of the fryer can only be described as ridiculously good.–Angie Zoobkoff
Fried Boneless Chicken Thighs FAQs
What should I serve with these fried chicken thighs?
Stick with classic sides like potato salad, succotash, and coleslaw. Buttermilk biscuits are also a great choice, especially if you want to turn your fried chicken into a sandwich.
How can I tell when my oil is hot enough for frying?
The best way to measure oil temperature is with a deep-fry thermometer or instant read thermometer. If you don’t have one, drop a small spoonful of the chicken coating into the oil. If it begins to bubble and fry, your oil is ready.
Fried Boneless Chicken Thighs
- Instant-read deep-fry or candy thermometer
For the brine
- 6 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 4 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 tablespoons red chile flakes
- 4 to 6 (1 1/2 to 2 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the marinade
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 large egg
For frying and serving
- 3 to 4 cups mild vegetable oil for frying (at least 2-inches or 5-cm deep)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- Your fave local honey (they use wildflower honey at Egg Shop)
- Coarse sea salt for serving (optional)
Brine the chicken
- At least 36 hours before you want to be eating fried chicken, in a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, kosher salt, sugar, garlic, and chile flakes and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
- Add the chicken to the brine, cover, and stash it in the fridge for as short or as long as you prefer, though we found the brine to work optimally between 20 and 24 hours. Note, however, that the longer you brine it, the saltier your fried chicken will be.
- Drain the chicken, discarding the brine and patting the chicken dry.
Marinate the chicken
- In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, celery salt, cayenne, paprika, and egg. Add the chicken to the marinade, cover, and tuck it in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours. (The longer you marinate it, the spicier your fried chicken will be.)
Fry the chicken
- Place a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, carefully add the oil, and heat until it registers 350°F (180°C) on an instant-read deep-fry or candy thermometer.
- Place a rimmed baking sheet alongside the stove and on it place a wire cooling rack, a brown paper grocery bag, or several thicknesses of paper towels. Preheat the oven to 200°F (90°C).
- While the oil comes to temperature, in a shallow bowl, combine the flour and black pepper. When the oil is hot, remove one chicken thigh at a time from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off, and dip it in the flour mixture, turning to completely coat it. Shake off any excess flour. Then repeat, dipping each piece back in the marinade and then in the flour mixture again. Place the chicken on a plate when done.
- Place a couple pieces of chicken in the hot oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. The chicken should be fully covered by the hot oil. Fry the chicken, turning occasionally, until the chicken is golden brown and the thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165°F (75°C), 5 to 10 minutes. Allow the oil to return to 350°F before cooking another batch of chicken. (If you don’t have a thermometer handy, use the tip of a sharp knife to cut into the thickest portion of a chicken thigh to check for doneness—there should be no trace of pink.)
- Using tongs, transfer the fried chicken to the rack or brown paper or paper towels on the baking sheet. If not devouring the chicken straight out of the oil, transfer the baking sheet to the preheated oven to keep warm.
Serve the chicken
- Just before serving, drizzle the chicken with honey and, if desired, sprinkle with a pinch or so coarse sea salt.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I often brine a whole roaster chicken and know just how good that is. We rarely fry chicken—it seems like a lot of trouble (and fat!)—but this fried chicken recipe is just so good. I had read online about the Egg Shop’s fried chicken and decided this was the recipe to try. We were not disappointed. Add to the meal the Southern Buttermilk Biscuits recipe on this site and I totally aced dinner.
I made the brine a little late in the day so the chicken was only in it for about 20 hours but that seemed enough—the meat was juicy and very flavorful. It only took 20 minutes to cool as I only heated 5 1/2 cups of water and then added ice cubes at the end. I might use less salt next time; I realize that brined meat will be salty but we all found this quite salty.
I drained the chicken and let it marinate for 2 hours. By that time, the biscuits were ready, there was nearly a mutiny in the kitchen. I only used 3 cups of oil in a small stockpot, frying 2 pieces at a time. They were a beautiful golden brown after 5 minutes. I used 6 chicken thighs, which easily served 4 of us.
I only had spiced ginger honey on hand but it was perfect with the chicken as well as with the biscuits. I also served corn on the cob and kale salad. The chicken stayed crisp and moist although it disappeared so fast, it would be hard to know for sure!
This is definitely a recipe I will make again.
This is what fried chicken is all about! If you have to have one fried chicken recipe to keep in your recipe box, this should be it.
I doubled the amount of chicken and brine and let it marinate for 24 hours. Then I allowed the chicken to marinate in the buttermilk mixture for 1 full hour. I forgot to double the amount of buttermilk mix and found the chicken pieces all fit in and were submerged nicely. There were several eyebrows raised when the honey was drizzled over the finished chicken. Their tunes certainly changed when they started to eat.
The chicken was moist and perfectly seasoned. The honey added welcome sweetness to the finished chicken and the coating was light and crisp. I didn’t add the final addition of salt with the honey as it had been brined and I was concerned about it being too salty. The family is already asking when I’ll do this one again.
Next time I would cut the largest pieces into the same size as the smaller ones and pound the thickest portions to allow for even cooking.
Originally published March 30, 2017
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
These fried boneless chicken thighs were absolutely delicious. It reminded me of my grandmother’s delectable Southern cooking. The recipe was easy to follow and the outcome was perfect.
The flavor and texture to the chicken was everything I wanted: it had a little spice to it, some amazing crunch, and the drizzled honey really took it to the next level. I think I’ll put honey on all my fried chicken from this day forward!
I brined the chicken for 24 hours and marinated it for 2 hours. All in all, this was a wonderful recipe and I will definitely make it again.