Why You Should Always Buy Chicken Thighs With Skin

Chicken is a staple in the American diet. According to Statista, in 2020, broiler chicken was the most consumed protein in the United States. Chicken is incredibly versatile and the recipe options are endless. You can make stuffed air fryer chicken breasts, crispy baked chicken wings, and even chicken stock for chicken soup. One of the more affordable cuts of chicken also happens to be one of the easiest to cook.

Chicken thighs are a great option to cook for a weeknight meal. Unlike the white meat chicken breast, chicken thighs are dark meat. According to The Kitchn, dark meat is more tender than white meat, due to the increased amount of fat. This means your chicken thighs will stay juicier when cooking. Chicken thighs also have more flavor than white meat such as chicken breasts. Chicken thighs are often slightly less expensive than chicken breasts, which is just another reason to reach for thighs. 

You're likely to find chicken thighs sold either skin-on with bone-in or skinless with bone-in. And while you may think that it's a no-brainer to buy boneless skinless thighs, you might want to opt to keep the skin, for a few reasons.

Skin locks in moisture

When you go to the store to purchase chicken thighs, skin-on is the way to go. Admittedly, the look of chicken thighs with the skin intact is not the prettiest sight in the world. However, the chicken skin plays an important role in ensuring the chicken is juicy and flavorful. According to Southern Living, the chicken skin helps protect the meat from overcooking and helps the meat retain moisture. Skin is essentially fat and fat = flavor. The fat will drip down into the meat while cooking, adding a little extra flavor to the meat.

If you're worried about the texture of the chicken skin becoming soggy, there is a simple way to prevent it. You can use a brick or a heavy cast iron skillet to obtain the crispiest chicken thighs. The weight of a brick or skillet placed on top of the thighs helps to release the fat, resulting in crunchy, delicious skin (per Food52). If you're not a fan of eating the skin on the chicken, feel free to remove it once the thigh has been fully cooked. It's still the best practice to save chicken skin, as there are plenty of other ways to eat chicken skin. You may be surprised at how tasty chicken skin is when eaten separately from the meat.