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Turkey thighs are one common type of packaged turkey part and may be available bone-in or boneless. Cooking individual turkey thighs may be more preferable for some than cooking a whole turkey because different turkey parts take longer to cook than others, making it challenging to not overcook certain pieces before other pieces are cooked through. Since turkey thighs are dark meat, which tends to be moister and less prone to drying out than white meat, there are a range of methods that tend to be used successfully.
To ensure turkey thighs do not dry out, it may be recommended to brine the pieces prior to cooking, regardless of the chosen cooking method. Brining is a process in which the meat is soaked in a combination of water and salt, which makes the meat more likely to absorb moisture and flavor from other seasonings. Before cooking a turkey thigh, it may be advised to brine it for at least eight hours or up to 24 hours for the best results. For additional flavor, other seasonings, such as garlic or dried herbs, may be added to the brine. To prevent an overpowering saltiness, it is usually recommended to thoroughly rinse the thighs off after brining before cooking them.
One of the most common ways of cooking a turkey thigh is roasting it in an oven. When roasting turkey thighs, the pieces are often seasoned and then coated with oil or melted butter to make the skin crispier. The exact roasting time may depend on the size of the thighs, but it usually takes approximately one hour for the meat to cook through. To maintain the juiciest meat possible, recipes often advise against cutting into the thighs until they have been out of the oven for at least 15 minutes, which allows the juices to redistribute and settle into the meat instead of seeping out. For a one-dish meal, cut-up potatoes or other vegetables may be roasted with the turkey thighs.
Another method used for cooking a turkey thigh is grilling. Grilled turkey thighs or whole turkey legs are often served without utensils at fairs and festivals. Although raw turkey thighs can be grilled over medium to medium high heat, some recipes may recommend boiling or otherwise partially cooking the thighs beforehand to prevent the outsides from becoming burnt before the inside meat is cooked through.
Braising is often recommended for a beginner cooking a turkey thigh because the method tends to be less prone to overcooking than other methods that use high heat. This technique calls for covering the thighs in liquid, such as broth or water, and cooking them over slowly over a low heat until the meat becomes tender to the point of falling off the bone. Braising often requires at least two hours of cooking time, but this may differ slightly depending on the thickness of the turkey thigh. The meat from braised turkey thighs is generally removed from the bone before serving, rather than being served bone-in.
When using a good meat thermometer, even a beginner can roast turkey thighs successfully. A meat thermometer not only tells you when the meat is safe to eat, but also helps a cook to keep from overcooking a good cut of meat. So braising is not the only choice for a beginner, and may not be the best choice anyway, depending on the dish in question.
In my opinion, roast turkey is one of the best ways to cook it, besides, perhaps, grilling. Frying is good, but it is an undertaking and requires specialized equipment – and a heck of a lot of peanut oil. That’s a lot of effort for a couple of turkey thighs, anyway.
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