For The Best Roast Chicken Thighs, Break Out The Pizza Stone

As much as we love pulling pork, braising beef, frying tofu, and grilling fish, we've gotta admit — chicken is probably the protein we most often prepare at home. Whether it's southern-style fried, oven-baked, pan-seared, grilled, or poached, chicken is affordable, readily available and pleases a wide variety of palates — factors which, no doubt, make it one of the most popular meats to cook at home. According to a 2020 survey of U.S. consumers, those who eat chicken reported eating it more often than any other protein (50%) and cooking it at home at least once a week (75%) (via Supermarket Perimeter).

One way to cook chicken that's particularly delicious is by roasting it, which — when done well — produces crispy skin on the outside and tender, juicy meat on the inside (via D'Artagnan). One cut of chicken we really like to roast if we're not going for a whole bird is the thighs, whose dark meat is particularly resistant to drying out in the oven. And, while there are many, many ways to roast chicken thighs, one approach recommended by Serious Eats caught our eye.

A preheated baking stone helps cook thighs evenly on both sides

When you feel like roasting chicken thighs, how often do you think to reach for your pizza steel or stone? Probably not too often. But a less well-known chicken-roasting method, advocated by Serious Eats in its recipe for chicken fajitas, caught our attention with its inventive use of a hot baking steel or stone, commonly used to produce pizza with a crunchy crust (via Food Network). The recipe calls for placing the stone or steel on the top rack of the oven, directly below the hot broiler. The sheet pan, which will be used to cook the chicken, is placed on the steel or stone, which absorbs the concentrated heat of the oven. When the chicken thighs are placed on the pan, they'll cook evenly from both below and from above — instead of just sitting on a relatively cool sheet pan, which the outlet notes are usually too thin to conduct serious heat. 

Without even having to flip the chicken, it will cook through in about 5 minutes, per Serious Eats, ensuring it will stay moist — and also arrive on your plate that much faster. Meanwhile, if you feel like roasting a whole chicken, Giordano's notes that placing it atop pizza stone is a great way to ensure even heat distribution and a super-crispy skin.