Chicken thighs seem to always end up being the least enjoyed portion of a chicken. Obviously chicken breasts are really popular and extremely versatile. Chicken wings are the ultimate in pub and game-day food. Even drumsticks are more popular than the thigh. Anytime we order a bucket of fried chicken, it is the thighs that are left at the bottom of the bucket.
But, with this recipe, the chicken thigh will no longer be the last chosen, but quite possibly become the most requested. These cast iron chicken thighs are juicy and have a ridiculously crispy skin. You might almost think it came from your favourite fried chicken restaurant.
These chicken thighs are cooked using two different cooking methods but they stay in the cast iron skillet the whole time. First, they are pan fried on the stovetop and then they are placed in the oven to finish cooking.
The end result of this method is a skin is super crispy while the meat is tender and juicy. I am not overstating it when I say that these chicken thighs are addictive. Every time I make them, these get gobbled up really quick. There are never leftovers.
I use ‘bone in – skin on’, chicken thighs. While you can use boneless and skinless thighs, you will be missing out on so much flavour. This method truly works best with the skin still on.
Also, be careful not to overcrowd the cast iron skillet. I could have squeezed a couple more thighs in the skillet, but that will reduce how well the skin renders. I find that in my cast iron skillet, six is the perfect number of chicken thighs.
Start by preheating the oven to 425F. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.
Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Once the oil is hot, slowly lower the chicken thighs, skin side down. Lowering the chicken thighs into the oil slowly, helps the skin create a sear which will prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
After the chicken thighs have been in the skillet for 5 minutes, toss in the garlic cloves all around the chicken thighs. Continue to pan fry for another 10 minutes.
Before the skillet goes in the oven, I like to move the thighs around and just lift them up to ensure that they are not stuck to the bottom of the skillet. Trust me when I say that the smell is incredible!
Place the skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. While this is baking, the skin will be rendering and producing a super tasty and crispy skin.
After they have baked for 15 minutes, flip the chicken thighs so the skin side is up. I also like to turn the garlic cloves so the other side can crisp up.
Continue to bake for another 10 minutes. By this time, the chicken thighs should be fully cooked and likely have an internal temperature around 180F. Take the skillet out of the oven and let the chicken thighs rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Even though there are very few ingredients, these chicken thighs are packed with flavour. They are nice and garlicky with the perfect balance of salt and pepper.
Don’t be surprised if the first thing you do with these chicken thighs is pull off and eat the skin. So good!!!!!
This is essentially a base recipe for how to cook the chicken thighs using this method. Instead of the garlic, salt and pepper, you can use different seasonings, marinades and sauces.
Here is a recipe using the same cook method but using citrus and an asian marinade: Tangerine Chicken Thighs
Cast Iron Chicken Thigh Recipe
- 6 chicken thighs , bone in and skin on
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 12 garlic cloves
- Preheat oven to 425F. Heat oil in cast iron skillet over medium high heat.
- Season both sides of the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Place chicken thighs, skin side down and cook for 5 minutes.
- Place the garlic cloves in the cast iron skillet all around the chicken thighs. Cook for another 10 minutes.
- Place the cast iron skillet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Use tongs to flip the chicken thighs so the skin side is up and bake another 10 minutes or until the chicken thighs register an internal temperature of 180F.
- Remove from the oven and let the chicken thighs rest for 5 minutes.