Fire up the grill to make crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside Grilled Chicken Thighs for a perfect lazy weekend dinner or summer weeknight meal.
We all need go-to recipes that require very little effort for an impressive result. That’s what these grilled chicken thighs are all about. They are a quintessential summer dish, requiring just 3 ingredients and your grill.
Ingredients You Need to Make Grilled Chicken Thighs
- Bone-In Skin-On Chicken Thighs: Look for plump thighs of similar size, 6 to 8 ounces each (do not use boneless skinless chicken thighs as they will dry out)
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper: Enough of both to season generously.
No need to marinate or brush anything on (not even olive oil) to make this chicken thigh recipe. With just three ingredients, your chicken thighs will emerge juicy and tender on the inside with a fabulously crispy skin on the outside.
What is Two Zone Grilling?
The key to this chicken thighs recipe is two zone grilling (see infographic below). To achieve this, you'll need a gas grill that has multiple cooking areas / zones. Once you preheat your grill, you'll turn off one set of burners to create an indirect cooking zone. This is where you'll place your chicken thighs or any food that you want to grill indirectly. The other side of the grill will remain on, creating a direct heat zone.
You can create a similar effect on a charcoal grill by positioning the hot coals on one side and leaving the other side empty.
How to avoid grill flare-ups.
Cooking over indirect heat will minimize flare-ups, but your grilled chicken thighs will drip fat as they cook and will build up on the bottom of of the cool side of your barbecue and in your drip pan each time you cook.
Always check your BBQ’s grease pan and anywhere in your BBQ that grease builds up between grilling and empty out any accumulated fat. Then after grilling, once you’ve transferred your cooked chicken to a platter, crank up the heat for a few minutes to burn off excess fat to avoid a potential grease fire later on. (Speaking from experience here.)
Grilled Chicken Thighs FAQ
Cook bone-in skin-on chicken thighs over indirect heat (using a two-zone heat configuration) at 425˚F for 45 minutes. If your chicken thighs are small (lighter than 6-ounces) start checking for doneness at 35 minutes.
The best way to grill chicken thighs is over indirect heat.
Grilling dark meat like chicken thighs with bones and skin intact is your best option for tender juicy chicken. Chicken breasts are much more likely to dry out on the grill.
This is one of those chicken recipes where you spend 5 minutes of hands-on time and then let your gas or charcoal grill do the work. With indirect heat, you set it and forget it. Let it cook while you relax with a cool, refreshing beverage and maybe some great conversation.
What to serve with Grilled Chicken Thighs
Here is a selection of side dishes that pair perfectly with these thighs.
- Cajun Potato Salad (Creamy, spicy and crowd pleasing!)
- Strawberry Spinach Salad (One of those salads that everyone loves!)
- Arugula Salad (A simple and perfect salad of peppery arugula, buttery pine nuts and a zingy, honey-kissed dressing.)
- Checca Sauce with Spaghetti (Raw pasta sauce made with summer peak tomatoes tossed with tender pasta.)
- Grilled Cauliflower Steaks (For a mouthwatering meal made entirely on the grill.)
How to Make Grilled Chicken Thighs
Season bone-in skin-on chicken thighs generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Grill over indirect, medium-high heat (425˚F) skin side up for 45 minutes. Transfer to platter and serve.
Grilled Chicken Thighs
- 8 large bone-in skin-on chicken thighs recipe note #2
- kosher salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Season chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper.
- Heat a gas grill to medium-high, 425˚F. When it reaches temperature, turn off burners in one area to create an indirect heat, cool zone. Place chicken thighs, skin side up, on the cool side of the barbecue and close the lid. Increase burners in hot zone as needed to maintain a temperature of about 425˚F.
- Set a timer for 45 minutes. Check the grill occasionally to confirm that the temperature is staying around 425˚F (preferably without opening the lid). The chicken thighs are done at 45 minutes (to check for doneness, a meat thermometer should read a minimum 165˚F internal temperature). Transfer to platter and serve.
- See post for infographic and explanation of two-zone grilling.
- If your chicken thighs are small (lighter than 6-ounces) start checking for doneness at 35 minutes.