Why You Should Finish Cooking Chicken Thighs In The Oven

Breasts may be the chicken cut of choice for most dinners, but chicken thighs are where the flavor is. Made up of juicy dark meat, chicken thighs have a deeper flavor and more succulent texture than breasts, especially when they're bone-in and skin-on. The flip side of this is that they are a little more complicated to cook. While chicken breasts can be easily tossed in a pan and seared for good results, the best way to cook chicken thighs involves a combination of techniques. Starting them in the pan for a nice brown is good, but chicken thighs are best when you finish cooking them in the oven, because it's the most surefire way to cook them evenly.

With more sinew, muscle, and fat, thighs don't heat as uniformly as other pieces of chicken, and cooking them on the stovetop only risks burning the outsides before the insides are fully cooked through. A slower finish in the oven after a sear still gives you the advantage of a high-heat browning, and yet the more even, lower heat of the oven can penetrate throughout the chicken and bring everything up to temperature without drying it out. The slower cook also means the fat in each thigh has more time to melt and make the whole thing impossibly tender. Bone-in or not, that's the ideal way to enjoy a chicken thigh.

Finishing thighs in the oven ensures a fully cooked, juicy piece of chicken

When cooking chicken thighs in the oven, it's best to do so at a high heat, so set the temperature to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. For skin-on thighs, start by searing them in an oven-proof skillet or pan with a tablespoon of oil until the skin is fully brown and crisp, which can take from five to 10 minutes. If you are using boneless and skinless thighs, they will cook even faster. Flip the thighs over and sear the bottoms until brown. Then flip them back over, and transfer to the oven. Roast the thighs until they register 165 degrees, which can take as little as 10 minutes. If they are bone-in, measure the temperature close to the bone where the meat will be the coolest to make sure they are fully cooked.

An oven finish also gives you the chance to cook sides or other flavoring ingredients right alongside the main course with no extra mess. Onions, carrots, broccoli, or asparagus can all be seared in the pan after the chicken, then roasted alongside it for a hearty, one-pan meal. Or use stock, tomatoes, and herbs to create a braise that will keep the chicken moist as it reduces to a tasty pan sauce. An oven finish doesn't just make the best cooked thighs, it makes your whole meal easier to make.