Crispy and juicy pan-fried chicken thighs prepared on the stovetop. This simple recipe for pan-seared chicken thighs requires just 4 ingredients, one pan, and less than one hour of your time.
This pan-fried chicken thighs recipe is one of the easiest, fool-proof methods of cooking juicy, tender, and crispy thighs in a pan. Your whole family will like them so much; they will become a part of your cooking rotation.
The pan-seared chicken thighs are quick and easy to make, and versatile. You can serve them as they are with your favorite side dishes, or you can use them to make other dishes like salads, enchiladas, burritos, and so on.
For more ways of cooking chicken in a pan, check out Cast-Iron Chicken Thighs, Cast-Iron Chicken Breasts, Quick Pan-Fried Chicken Wings, Pan-Fried Marinated Chicken Breast, Juicy Pan-Fried Chicken Breast, and Crispy Fried Panko Chicken.
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: One large thigh (circa 10.5 oz/ 300 g) would serve one person. If your thighs are much smaller than that, you should do two per portion. Make sure that the thighs fit easily in the pan, the pan should not be overcrowded, and the pieces should not overlap.
- Oil: Canola or another vegetable oil, something with a higher smoking point. I don’t use olive oil for pan-frying chicken thighs.
- Spices: Fine sea salt, ground black pepper, and dried oregano or thyme. Rosemary, savory, or a dried herb mixture are also excellent. You could try Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence, for instance.
- Chicken stock: Homemade, store-bought, or hot water mixed with a few crumbles from a stock cube. Plain water, beer, or a mixture of stock and white wine are good substitutes.
- Additions: Season the meat with your favorite spice rub or spice mixture. Try paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, ground cumin or coriander, curry powder, chicken seasoning, Cajun seasoning, and so on.
- Add a few minced garlic cloves to the pan when you add the stock. Or the juice of 1/2 a lemon.
How to pan-fry chicken thighs perfectly?
This recipe has four steps or cooking stages. You will need a large frying pan (12 inches/ 30 cm) with a lid (Amazon affiliate link). A cast iron skillet with a fitting lid is also fine (I don’t use it for this recipe because my skillet doesn’t have a lid).
- Prepare: Dry the parts with a paper towel and season them well.
- Pour the oil into the cold pan and place the seasoned portions – skin side up – into the pan. Turn on the heat. Sear on medium heat for 10 minutes on the underside (1).
- Turn them – skin-side down – and pan-fry them on the skin side for another 10 minutes. Baste them with the pan juices 2-3 times during this time (use a spoon and tilt the pan a little when trying to scoop some of the pan juices) (2).
- Turn them again – skin-side up (3) – and add the stock (beer or water). Lower the heat and place a lid on top. Simmer them for 15 minutes (4).
- Remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the thighs are cooked and you can easily pull the meat off the bone. The skin should be golden brown and crispy, and the pan juices reduced (5). Check with a meat thermometer.
- Rest for about 5 minutes (uncovered) and serve with any remaining pan juices spooned over the meat.
- Don’t wash poultry. According to USDA, the bacteria on the skin will not be destroyed; that will only happen during the cooking process. Washing poultry will spread harmful bacteria into your sink and the working surfaces.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan; the portions should lie in a single layer in the frying pan.
- Crispy skin: Ensure the portions are dry before rubbing them with the spices. Don’t cover the parts with stock; the stock should not come over the skin.
- Use tongs to turn the thighs into the pan, don’t stick a fork into the meat or the skin.
Large thighs like the ones I used (about 10.5 oz/ 300 g) needed a total time of 40-45 minutes. If the thighs you have are smaller, reduce the simmering time to 10-12 minutes and finish cooking them without a lid until they are cooked through.
The best way to ensure you have cooked-through yet juicy chicken thighs is to measure the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer (Amazon affiliate link). It should be 165°F/ 75°C.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Freeze leftovers in an airtight container or a freezer bag for 2-3 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat before serving. The skin will not be crispy after freezing; you can refresh it slightly under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
Pan: On medium-low heat with the lid on.
Oven: In the hot oven at 400°F/200°C until heated through, 10-15 minutes.
Microwave, checking every 1 or 2 minutes. The skin will not be crispy anymore.
How to serve?
- Serve immediately with any side dish you like. For example, try pan-fried chicken thighs with Roasted Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes or Rich Truffle Mashed Potatoes, Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes, Jollof Rice, BBQ Rice, or Carrot Rice. They are also excellent with Sliced Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes in Tomato Sauce, Garlic Butter Noodles with Parmesan, Couscous Salad, or Bulgur Salad.
- Vegetable side dish ideas: Green salad with Yogurt Dressing or Raspberry Vinaigrette, Simple White Cabbage Salad, The Best Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Leeks, Sweetheart Cabbage, or Sauteed Zucchini with Onions. Make this delicious Mushroom Gravy for Chicken.
More delicious chicken thighs
Tender Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs
- Large frying pan with lid Note 1
- Tongs Note 2
- 4 chicken thighs Note 3
- 3 tablespoons canola oil Note 4
- 1/3 cup chicken stock 70 ml, Note 5
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano or thyme
- Prepare chicken thighs: Pat them dry with paper towels and rub them with salt, pepper, and oregano.
- Pour the oil into the cold pan and place the thighs – skin side up – in the pan. Turn on the heat and cook the thighs for 10 minutes.
- Turn the thighs – skin-side down – and sear them for another 10 minutes, basting them with the pan juices 2-3 times during this time.
- Turn them again – skin-side up – and add the chicken stock (beer or water). Place a lid on top. Cook for another 15 minutes.
- Remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the chicken thighs are cooked through, and you can easily pull the meat off the bone. The safe internal temperature measured with a meat thermometer is 165°F/ 75°C. The skin should be crispy, and the pan juices reduced.
- Rest for about 5 minutes (uncovered) and serve.
- Or a cast-iron skillet with a suitable lid.
- It’s preferable to use tongs to turn the chicken in the pan and not stick a fork into the meat.
- About 2 ½ lbs/ 1100 g.
- Or another oil with a high smoking point.
- Chicken stock: It can be homemade, store-bought, or hot water mixed with a few crumbles from a stock cube. Sub with water or beer.