Herculean Strength

Best Ever Roasted Chicken Thighs

Bone-in chicken thighs are the most underrated chicken cut you can buy. For whatever reason, it’s consistently the cheapest cut in my local grocery stores and people seem to pass these packages by in favor of the boneless and skinless variety. The skin can crisp up so nicely, and the rendered fat provides savoriness (not to mention the extra collagen). Even better, you can roast them practically hands-off in less than 45 minutes with this basic recipe. This is a good alternative when you don’t necessarily want to roast a whole chicken.

The keys are the simple spice rub, a cast-iron pan, and roasting skin-side down for the first half of cooking to crisp the skin and render plenty of fat.

Recommended sides include a good salad (like dandelion or wilted spinach), macaroni and cheese, collard greens, or garlic-braised kale.

Best Roasted Chicken Thighs (Serves 2-4)

You can substitute any other bone-in chicken parts, or carve up a whole one if you’d rather. I purchase the six-packs of bone-in chicken thighs from Costco, and one pack feeds three adults comfortably with some sides. It also fits into the 12″ cast iron skillet nicely. If you have bone-in breasts, split them.

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs (or parts)
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp. bacon grease, ghee, butter, or lard
  • 3 springs fresh thyme, if available

Equipment

  • 12″ cast iron skillet
  • tongs for flipping chicken

Instructions

  1. Put the 12″ cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat the oven to 450F. (You want the cast iron to heat up with the oven.)
  2. Combine the paprika, salt, pepper and granulated garlic in a small bowl.
  3. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. Make sure if the skin has shifted off the thighs that you stretch it back over the thighs.
  4. Rub the spice mixture all over the thighs.
  5. When the oven has preheated, carefully remove the hot skillet and put your cooking fat in. Let it melt, then add the thyme springs (if using).
  6. Place the chicken thighs in the skillet skin side down. Roast for 15 minutes.
  7. Flip the chicken thighs. The skin should be nicely browned and crispy-looking. Roast about 15 minutes longer, until thighs reach 175F.
  8. Remove from the oven and let everything rest for 10 minutes. Serve the chicken thighs topped with the pan juices that accumulated in the skillet.

Notes and Variations

  • For a different spice rub, try the following:
    • 1 tsp. granulated garlic
    • 2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
    • 2 tsp. pepper
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. dried oregano

    Serve with lime wedges and fresh mint leaves.

  • You can also go with a simple smoked salt and pepper if you like.
  • For a spice rub at high heat, use dried spices rather than fresh. If you want to use fresh delicate herbs such as basil, top the chicken with those at the end. Rosemary and thyme are the exception to this rule, as they’re woody herbs. Those two tend to stand up to roasting well when used fresh.
  • I wouldn’t recommend tallow in this recipe. It’ll impart a beefy flavor to the chicken that won’t taste quite right. Stick to the more neutral cooking fats. Don’t use olive oil; the roasting temperature is too hot.

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