What Are the Best Tips for Broiling Chicken Thighs?

Sheri Cyprus

The first thing to consider when broiling chicken thighs is whether you have boneless or bone-in poultry, as this will affect the cooking time. Another important consideration is what flavoring you want to add to the chicken. Marinating the chicken thighs in the refrigerator overnight or a few hours before broiling can create a delicious as well as tender result. If you plan to prepare the poultry pieces on an outdoor grill, but bad weather or other constraints make this option less appealing, broiling chicken thighs instead can be a great alternative.

A broiling pan can be used to cook chicken thighs.
A broiling pan can be used to cook chicken thighs.

While broiled chicken doesn't quite have the same barbecued flavor as outdoor grilled poultry, using a smoky variety of barbecue sauce near the end of the broiling time can create a similar taste. Adding the sauce too early when broiling chicken thighs can lead to burning due to the usually heavy amount of sugar or honey in the sauce. Starting out with marinated chicken thighs and turning them while brushing on a basting mixture before adding barbecue sauce can help add extra flavor while preventing burning.

Chicken must be fully cooked to destroy salmonella contamination.
Chicken must be fully cooked to destroy salmonella contamination.

You can use exactly the same ingredients for both the marinade and the basting sauce. Since the raw chicken thighs will be soaking in the marinade, it's not a good idea to then use the remaining marinade as a basting sauce. Instead, some marinade can be reserved before the rest is used on the raw poultry to brush onto the broiling chicken thighs during cooking. Either melted butter or cooking oil may be used in the marinade/basting sauce. Wine vinegar, minced garlic, mustard powder and herbs or seasonings of your choice may also be added.

Broiling the chicken thighs can make them crispier and browner than baking, but as the oven heat required is much higher, you'll have to keep a constant watch on the cooking poultry. Staying in the kitchen and closely watching and turning the broiling chicken thighs so they become crisp without burning is crucial for a successful end result. The exact time needed will depend on your oven, how far from the heating element the pan of chicken thighs is and how many pieces you're broiling at once.

Usually, the broiler pan should be positioned about 8-10 inches (20-25 cm) from the oven's heating element. If you don't have a broiler pan, you may use an oven- and food-safe metal broiling rack with a metal cookie sheet placed underneath. The marinated chicken thighs should be turned using metal tongs about every 7 to 10 minutes and basted with extra marinade, but also barbecue sauce on the last turning. As a general rule, boneless chicken thighs tend to take between 20-30 minutes to broil, while bone-in pieces may need an additional 10 minutes. The most accurate way to be sure that broiling chicken thighs are cooked through is to make sure there is no sign of a pink color and that the juices run clear.

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Discussion Comments


I don't know that I'd take the risk of broiling any piece of chicken for 20 or 30 minutes, no matter how often I turned it. Maybe for chicken strips, which cook quickly, but not for a thick piece of meat like a thigh.

It might work just fine, but I'd be wary about trying it.


I think I might bake the chicken thighs for about 15 or 20 minutes and them broil them for five or 10 minutes. You'd get about the same result, without the risk of burning the chicken to a crisp.

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