Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs are a game-changer for a simple weeknight dinner.
Now, what makes this recipe special isn’t the flavors or the ingredients; it’s the method.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know my style in food, photography, and life is simplicity. Doing fewer things better is where it’s at for me!
This Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs Recipe was born out of frustration. When I lived in Scotland a few years ago, we had a convection oven, and it resulted in the most crispy chicken skin imaginable.
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Fast forward to living back in the States with a normal gas oven. Try what I might, I could never get the skin on chicken thighs to come out perfectly until I started playing around with this method.
(Don’t like chicken thighs? This method works with split chickens or chicken legs too, just be sure to adjust the cooking time.)
How Long Do You Cook Chicken in a Cast Iron Skillet?
It totally depends on if you’re cooking the whole thing on the stove top or you’re going to use the oven, too. It usually takes about 45 minutes when I sear the skin side on the stove top and then finish roasting the chicken thighs in the oven.
Remember, this recipe is more about the steps, so no hate mail if you were expecting creative ingredients or big flavors.
The whole point is to create the perfect texture. Oh, and texture – especially crispiness or crunch – is one of the ways to make food more exciting!
Tips for the Best Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs
I use bone-in chicken thighs. For one, they’re usually less expensive. And, I save the bones for making Stovetop Bone Broth or Instant Pot Bone Broth which to me makes the whole idea of buying bone-in thighs worth it. (If you must use boneless chicken thighs, check out this recipe instead.)
You need a large cast iron skillet for this, ideally 12 inches in diameter for 4 chicken thighs. My Lodge skillets have never let me down, and the bonus here is that the chicken goes from the stove top to the oven in one dish. Saving on dishwashing later? Count me in! Not sure how to clean your cast iron skillet? I’ve got a tutorial here.
I recommend using a splatter screen for this (this is the one I use). You’ll be rendering the chicken, skin-side down, and it can splatter quite a bit. I use ghee as the cooking fat because its smoke point is so high. If you want to nerd out on why ghee is so awesome, check this out.
I usually double this recipe and use a second skillet which give us instant leftovers.
Which Spices Go Best With Chicken Thighs?
Sometimes, I’ll add a spice mix like curry powder or smoked paprika (my favorite spice) to the meat side of half the chicken, and the other half, I’ll leave plain except for salt and pepper.
That way, I can season the meat when I reheat it with whatever flavor profile I want (ex: garlic, Italian herbs, curry powder, etc.). I don’t put spices or herbs – other than salt and pepper – on the skin side because they’ll burn.
What to Serve With Chicken Thighs
They’d also be delicious with a simple green salad or a paleo-friendly cole slaw on the side. Since chicken thighs are so adaptable, the sky is really the limit here.
Okay, on to the full method for making this Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs Recipe!
Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs Recipe
This Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs Recipe is a game-changer. It's one of the simplest ways to make crispy chicken in the oven every time! Get the full recipe here and make these tonight.
- 2 lb chicken thighs bone-in
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp spice mix of choice optional
- 1 tbsp ghee
Get ready. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Pat the chicken thighs dry on both sides with paper towel. Sprinkle the skin side with some of the salt and pepper. Flip and sprinkle the meat side with the rest of the salt, pepper, and whatever spice mix you choose. (You don’t have to season the meat if you prefer a more neutral taste.)
Sear the chicken. Place a large cast iron skillet over high medium-high and add the ghee. You want the skillet to be really hot so make sure the fat is shimmering.
Add the chicken thighs, skin side DOWN, and try to leave some room between them so they don’t touch. Cover with a splatter screen, and sear skin side down for 5-8 minutes, depending on the strength of your burners. Be patient. Don’t keep poking at the chicken. It’ll release easily from the pan once it’s ready to flip, but you want to make sure the skin is rendered and crispy. Remove the splatter screen. Flip the chicken so the meat side is down.
Roast it. Use a pot holder or kitchen towel to move the skillet right into the oven. Roast the chicken in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they’re cooked through and no longer pink. It depends on the size of the chicken thighs, so keep an eye on it once 20 minutes has gone by. Serve hot out of the oven.
These can be made ahead of time on your meal prep day. To reheat, place them skin-side down in a cast iron skillet and place over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, flipping once during the process.
Save the bones so you can make homemade bone broth!