11 Recipes For Grilled Chicken Thighs (And Tips)

I am 100% confident you will find a gem among these delicious and versatile recipes for grilled chicken thighs. We’re showcasing a variety of methods for both bone-in and boneless chicken along with great tips for grilling, brining, using leftovers, and pairing sides.

I love chicken thighs and I love grilling. So this post is a no-brainer for me. We have great ideas for chicken thigh recipes including spicy, Vietnamese, wood-planked, Korean, Mediterranean, all-American (with peanut butter!), BBQ, an Italian salad (Panzanella) and sous vide (cooked under water before grilling).

grilled chicken thighs recipes collage.

Why chicken thighs are a great choice

Anyone familiar with Two Kooks chicken recipes knows that I am a huge fan of chicken thighs (dark meat).

Thighs are juicier, more flavorful and more forgiving than chicken breasts (they don’t dry out quickly). And they are usually more cost-effective.

For me, these benefits outweigh the benefits of boneless chicken breasts (white meat) which admittedly have several positives such as lower calorie and fat content, less trimming needed for preparation and slightly less cooking time than boneless or skin-on chicken thighs.

Recipes with boneless chicken thighs

The recipes in this section are for boneless skinless chicken thighs. The best way to keep them juicy is not to overcook them. Marinating or brining will add a lot of flavor if you have time. The advantage over bone-in thighs is that boneless chicken cooks much more quickly – just a few minutes on each side.

Grilled Vietnamese Chicken

grilled chicken thighs on white plate with green onions
I love this Grilled Vietnamese Chicken in Pho, on rice or in salads. The marinade permeates the chicken to make it succulent and delicious.
Time: 44 minutes (including marinating and resting)
Side options: coconut Jasmine rice, Thai mango salad, grilled zucchini.
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Spicy Honey Lime Chicken

The combination of honey (or maple syrup), soy sauce, sriracha, lime juice, garlic and ginger in this spicy honey lime chicken recipe is wicked. Delicious hot, room temp or cold.
Time: 50 minutes (including prep, cook, marinating)
Side options: grilled vegetable orzo salad. Also good in pita with coleslaw.
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Panzanella Toscana with Grilled Chicken (35 Minutes)

chicken panzanella salad in white bowl
We're grilling crusty bread, chicken and peppers for this Panzanella Toscana. Then tossing them with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, herbs and a zesty dressing to create a beautiful and delicious bread salad.
Time: 35 minutes
Side Options: In summer, I serve the salad with a nice chilled soup like sweet corn soup with herbs or a simple gazpacho.
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Grilled Mediterranean Chicken

grilled chicken pieces on cutting board
Grilled Mediterranean chicken – infused with olive oil, lemon zest, garlic, Dijon mustard and herbs – is a go-to chicken dinner in our family. Delicious in a sandwich, salad, soup or over couscous.
Time: 30 minutes
Side options: baked Mediterranean rice with vegetables or roast pumpkin salad with couscous (sub in sweet potato if you like) and a Greek salad.
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BBQ Boneless Chicken Thighs On The Grill

grilled chicken thighs over corn on plate
BBQ grilled boneless chicken thighs are juicy and flavorful with a delicious sweet-tangy BBQ sauce. The secret ingredient in this BBQ chicken recipe is French salad dressing.
Time: 42 minutes (including marinating)
Side options: grilled corn salad and citrus salad
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Chicken Bulgogi Recipe

For this chicken bulgogi recipe, we're using a fabulous homemade Korean bulgogi marinade, keeping the boneless chicken pieces whole and grilling them to perfection. The flavors are sensational hot or cold. If you don't have a grill, you can pan sear the chicken. 
Time: 14 minutes (plus 3 hours marinating)
Side options: white rice or herb potato salad (no mayo) and easy roasted bok choy and broccoli
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Peanut Butter Chicken Recipe

Peanut lovers will love this peanut butter chicken recipe boosted with orange, ginger, garlic and chili flakes. Marinate, grill, top with cilantro and crunchy peanuts – a flavorful dish!
Time: 30 minutes
Side options: hasselback sweet potatoes and sliced fresh oranges.
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Recipes with bone-in chicken thighs

The recipes below are for bone-in chicken thighs or other bone-in chicken pieces. Choose your favorite – thighs and drumsticks tend to be juicier and more flavorful, but breasts are fine too, especially with marinating or a sauce or glaze.

Homemade Peri Peri Chicken (Grilled or Baked)

finished peri peri chicken on cutting board with pineapple spears, peas and extra peri peri sauce.
Succulent peri peri chicken, inspired by Portuguese-African cuisine, is elevated to a whole new level with its saucy tangy spice blend. It's a must-try if you love bold and unique flavors. Make it as mild or as spicy as you like.
Time: 25 minutes (plus 4 hours marinating/rest time)
Side options: peach halves on the grill or pineapple spears, corn on the cob, and microwave green beans.
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Smoked Chicken Thighs (without a smoker)

Treat yourself to juicy, BBQ, lightly smoked chicken thighs. No need for a smoker, wood chips or long cooking times. Just a simple wood plank to infuse the smoke flavor and make the grilling easy. And don't be intimidated by plank grilling – it's surprisingly simple! 
Time: 35 minutes (plus 40 min plank soaking and rest time)
Side options: peach salad with walnut dressing, and grilled cauliflower. fried potatoes and onions.
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Lemon Herb Chicken (with an easy cool technique)

flattened chicken with herb sauce on cutting board
Roasted or grilled chicken is smothered in a delicious herb sauce to create an aromatic lemon herb chicken dish packed with fresh flavors. Check out the simple technique of mingling the chicken juices with a lemony, garlicky, herb-y sauce – so good! Bone-in chicken thighs work perfectly with this recipe.
Time: 45 min to 1 hour (depending on the type of chicken used)
Side Options: crispy oven-roasted potatoes, and grilled coleslaw (no mayo).
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Sous Vide Chicken Thighs

Count on super juicy and tender chicken every time you make sous vide chicken thighs. No guesswork. For this chicken thigh recipe, we're using bone-in thighs and a 3-ingredient sweet-savory glaze for a simple and delicious finish.
Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Side options: lemon herb cauliflower rice stir fryflat green beans (charred)
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General rules of thumb

These tips work for a gas grill or charcoal grill.

  1. Preparing the grill: Spray the grill grates with oil (or dip a paper towel in oil) and brush the grates well to prevent sticking. Heat the grill to your target temperature, then scrape off the previous meal’s bits.
  2. Bring food to room temperature before grilling to ensure more even cooking. About 30 minutes on the counter is good.
  3. Temperature of grill: Bone-in chicken should generally cook at a temperature of 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). Boneless thighs should cook at medium-high heat at a temperature of about 400°F (200°C).
  4. Cooking time will depend on the size of the chicken thighs – thicker thighs will take longer. Bone-in will take about 30-40 minutes, boneless about 3-7 minutes per side.
  5. Use an instant meat thermometer to check for doneness. I can’t live without my Thermapen One (I bring it on vacation!). Here’s a video on using the touch test if you don’t have a thermometer. The internal temperature will read 160F/71C when done. The temp will rise when resting to 165F/74C.
  6. Do not poke the chicken with a fork or knife. You don’t want to lose the juices and dry it out. Use tongs to turn the chicken.
  7. Keep the lid closed as much as possible to avoid lowering the temperature of your BBQ.
  8. Resting time: Let the chicken rest before serving for best results – about 5-10 minutes for bone-in thighs, and 5 minutes for boneless. Do not skip this step if you want juicy chicken thighs. Resting helps the juices redistribute throughout the meat.

Other tips

  1. Direct vs indirect heat: Use direct heat for boneless chicken thighs. For bone-in, if chicken pieces are larger, I use indirect heat (the unlit part of the bbq) for most of the cooking, then direct heat for the last 5-10 minutes. This prevents flare-up and maintains juicy chicken.
  2. Grill marks: To achieve nice charred grill marks, scrape and oil the grills (I also spray the chicken with oil). Place the chicken on a 45 degree angle, cook them for several minutes then turn the chicken 90 degrees for cross-hatch marks if you like.
  3. Using marinades and glazes – If there is a high sugar content in the marinade or glaze, pat the chicken with paper towels a little after marinating and before grilling. Apply the glaze or boiled leftover marinade toward the end of grilling (last 5 minutes) to prevent burning. Do not reuse the marinade that has come into contact with raw chicken unless it’s boiled. You can set some of the marinade aside for basting instead of boiling it after marinating.
  4. Flare-ups. Prevent flare-ups by trimming fat from chicken and cleaning the grill. If you do get a flare-up, douse it with a bit of water (a spray bottle is great, or just use a cup of water) or move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill.

What to serve with grilled chicken thighs

Check out these side dishes for grilled chicken. We have delicious:

  1. grilled side dishes
  2. salad and fruit sides
  3. 5-ingredient sides
  4. sauces
  5. classic sides (with a twist)

What to do with leftover chicken

Here are a few quick and easy recipes with leftover chicken thighs.

FAQs

Is it worth brining chicken thighs?

Brining can make a BIG difference to chicken thighs by enhancing the moisture and flavor, making them juicier and more tender. So if you have time, I highly recommend it. Here is an article by Livestrong on how to brine chicken thighs.

How do I store leftover grilled chicken thighs?

Place them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen for several months. Reheat thawed chicken in the microwave, covered, on medium-low heat for a few minutes

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