Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

This oven roasted chicken thighs so ingenious is the technique. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are baked until cooked through and then broiled to crisp the skin. The result? Juicy, flavorful chicken. Marvelously crisp skin.

Sheet pan of oven-roasted chicken thighs, topped with salt and pepper.

Oven roasted chicken thighs. They’re marvelously satisfying and ridiculously easy to toss in the oven even on the craziest of weeknights. As the venerable folks at Cook’s Illustrated explain, “They’re more flavorful than lean breasts, meatier than drumsticks, and, thanks to their uniform size and thickness, less prone to overcooking than either of the above, which eliminates any need for brining or salting.” And let’s not forget the mind-boggingly, knee-wobblingly shatteringly crisp skin. Enough said.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Oven-Roasted Chicken Thighs

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 5 M
  • 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Cook's Illustrated Meat Book cookbook

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Crank the oven to 450°F (232°C) and adjust the oven racks to the middle and lowest positions. Place a rimmed baking sheet on the lower oven rack.

Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels. For best results, trim all visible fat from the thighs.

Using the tip of a paring knife or a metal skewer, poke the skin of each chicken thigh 10 to 12 times. Lightly rub the chicken thighs on all sides with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, on the preheated baking sheet. Return the sheet to the lower rack. Roast the chicken thighs until the skin begins to brown and the meat registers 160°F (71°C), 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheet once halfway through cooking.

Remove the baking sheet with the thighs from the oven and heat the broiler. Carefully tip the baking sheet so the rendered chicken fat pours into a small dish. Let it cool and then cover and refrigerate it for another use or toss it in the trash.

While the broiler heats, use a thin metal spatula loosen the chicken skin and flip the chicken thighs skin side up. Slide the baking sheet with the chicken thighs onto the upper rack until the skin is crisp and well browned and the meat registers 175°F (79°C), 3 to 5 minutes, rotating the sheet as needed for even browning.

Transfer the chicken to a platter or plates and let it rest for 5 minutes before tucking into the moistest, crispest chicken thighs ever. Originally published December 9, 2014.

Print RecipeBuy the Cook's Illustrated Meat Book cookbook

Want it? Click it.

    *What To Serve With These Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

    • Now that you have the perfect technique for juicy meat and crisp skin, if you’d like to take things a little further in terms of chicken bling, we’re thinking a dribble of barbecue sauce—whether North Carolina ‘cue or Texas-style or spiked with bourbon. Maybe some chimichurri. What about coating the thighs with a spice rub instead of just salt and pepper? Or shredding the meat and spooning some pico de gallo on top and passing some homemade tortillas on the side? Some Sriracha, perhaps? The options are, quite literally, almost endless. What you decide to do is your business…unless, of course, you care to let us know in a comment below.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    Perfection. I don't think you can roast chicken thighs much more perfectly than with the technique used in this recipe. Seriously crispy-crackly-caramelized skin and tender-juicy meat that's incredibly flavorful. Seriously, the skin was a perfect deep golden brown with skin that literally cracked when you bit into it. This is genius, it's like putting the chicken in a hot skillet. No wonder the chicken was so well-browned. The layers of flavor and texture were pretty stunning and only took 45 minutes from start to finish.

    This oven-roasted chicken thighs recipe is perfect for a weeknight meal when you're short on time—or anytime really. Do not be afraid to use a heavy hand when applying salt and pepper; believe me, the chicken can take it. I'd say 1 1/4 teaspoons salt is a minimum. After poking holes in the chicken using a paring knife (I don't own a metal skewer), I put the chicken thighs into a large bowl. Into that I applied the salt, pepper, and a generous pour (about 2 tablespoons) extra-virgin olive oil and mixed everything together with my hands until well coated.

    The timing was spot-on. (I will point out, though, that the recipe never mentions which broiler setting to use. Many newer ovens have adjustable broilers so that should be taken into account. For mine I used the "high" setting on my broiler.) I didn't think 5 minutes was quite long enough to brown and crisp the skin so I added another 3 minutes, which was just right.

    One other observation—the chicken juice that renders and surrounds while cooking reduces into this thick rich fond under the broiler. Immediately scrape it up with a spatula before it sticks to your baking sheet. After the scraped-up fond cools a bit and without anyone looking, eat it. It tastes like this crispy piece of chicken candy that you won't want to share. Consider it a reward. I served these amazing oven-roasted chicken thighs on top of a super rich potato puree topped with a slaw of cabbage, green onions, and parsley dressed with chimichurri.

    Why would anyone eat chicken breasts again!? These oven-roasted chicken thighs are delectable and quick to make. I smothered the thighs with my own homemade tomato chutney after baking the thighs and before sliding them under the broiler and 4 minutes later we were wolfing down the moistest chicken with the crispest skin we've ever had.

    I can't wait to experiment with more chutneys, sauces, and spice rubs. This oven-roasted chicken thighs recipe will easily join the weekly rotation since all the ingredients, aside from the chicken, should be in the pantry.


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    1. Excellent! I added a little spice with cayenne but otherwise unchanged and delicious! Will definitely make this again.

    2. I made the Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs for dinner today with only a few changes. I only had boneless, skinless thighs and they worked just fine. My husband is on a VERY low sodium diet so I replaced the salt with a salt-free spice mixture. Other than that I followed the instructions. I covered the pan with non-stick foil for easy clean up and had very little smoking. I will definitely be making them again and trying different seasonings and adding different sauces.

    3. Has anyone included drumsticks, in addition to thighs, when making this recipe? (I’m thinking roasting four drumsticks and four thighs.) If so, did the drumsticks turn out okay?

      1. Yvnonne, no one has mentioned using drumsticks, but it should work spectacularly. You may just need to watch the timing as it may be slightly different. I’d start checking the chicken about 5 minutes before the stated cooking time just in case they’re done sooner. And please let us know how it goes!

    4. Since chicken thighs now come in six-packs I had four left over from making 40 cloves of garlic chicken and decided to try this method with them. So sad I only four because they were so delicious. I only set the smoke alarm off once but it was more than worth it. Thanks for providing such wonderful recipes. ~Cynthia

      1. Cynthia, you’re welcome and thank you for taking the time to let us know how well this recipe worked for you. It’s reactions like yours that are the reason we do what we do. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

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