I made Pan Fried Chicken Legs for the first time almost a year ago and I haven’t stopped making it since then. Pan fried chicken makes an appearance on our table at least once if not twice a month.
It still amazes me that just a spoonful of oil and a little bit of patience can result in juicy, tender chicken with golden crisp skin.
The other day, as I was mixing together a fresh batch of Taco Seasoning for some Spanish Rice I was cooking, it occurred to me that I could use that combination of Mexican spices as a rub for the chicken.
The chicken turned out great and every member of the family voted the meal a success. This is a great variation on one of our family’s favorite meals.
How to Cook Chicken on the Stove
Never cooked chicken on the stove top before? I’m happy to report that this method of cooking chicken is as easy as it is tasty.
This recipe starts by mixing southwestern herbs and spices together in a bowl. My spice blend includes cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic and onion powder.
Sprinkle the spices on the chicken then use clean hands to rub the spice blend into the chicken skin. Once your chicken thighs are nice and spice-covered, place them in a hot skillet with just a tablespoon of oil.
For this chicken recipe, I prefer refined coconut oil or a light flavored olive oil. You don’t want any flavors in the oil to dominate the chicken.
Then comes the waiting. Let the chicken cook (skin side down) uncovered until the skin is deep golden brown and crispy. For me, this usually takes about 25 minutes, but depending on the size of your chicken pieces it could take up to 30 minutes.
Note: if the outside of the chicken starts to blacken or burn before the inside is cooking, you need to turn the heat down. Keep a close eye on your chicken as it cooks to ensure this doesn’t happen!
Frying chicken on the stove top is one of the best ways to cook chicken with perfectly crispy skin, in my opinion. That said, sometimes you just want to toss your chicken thighs in the oven and walk away. For delicious oven baked chicken recipes, check out this Crispy Oven Baked Chicken, Crunchy Baked Chicken and my full list of The Best Baked Chicken Thigh Recipes.
Pan Fried Chicken Legs
I’ve used both chicken thighs and drumsticks to make pan fried chicken with good results. Cooking drumsticks with this method requires a little more hands-on attention.
Cook them for 15 minutes on one side, rotate a third and cook 15 minutes more. Rotate a final time and finish cooking the drumstick for about another 15 minutes. Your chicken is done when the meat closest to the bone is cooked through!
Pan Fried Southwest Chicken is crispy and juicy with just the right amount of spice for everyone to enjoy. I love that it only uses a spoonful of oil so the chicken is crisp without dripping with grease! If you like more heat on your chicken, feel free to add a little more red pepper flakes or chili powder to the spice blend.
We enjoyed Pan Fried Chicken with a side of Chipotle Lime Rice and Jalapeno Corn Coleslaw. I’m excited to add this spicy chicken to our meal plan rotation along with other chicken dinnertime favorites like Sticky Asian Chicken, Indian Chicken Bites and Pan Fried Italian Chicken Thighs.
Simple Pan Fried Southwest Chicken
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or light flavored olive oil
- 4-6 chicken thighs or drumsticks depending on size (I prefer smaller pieces)
- 2 teaspoons of chili powder I used NM Red Chili Powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- In a small bowl, stir together all of the spices. Pour the oil into a large stainless or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Generously sprinkle the chicken all over with the spices. Use your hands to rub it into the skin.
- Place the chicken in the hot skillet, skin side down. Cook uncovered* for about 20-25 minutes. Let the pieces cook until the fat has rendered and the skin is deep golden brown and crisp; this could take as long as 30 minutes. Reduce the heat as needed if the skin starts to burn before it is evenly golden brown.
- (If you are cooking drumsticks, I like to cook them for 15-20 minutes, then turn a third of the way over and cook another 15 minutes and then turn the final third of the way over and let them finish cooking for about 15 minutes more.)
- When the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, the chicken is done. Enjoy!