Perfect Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs

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Juicy, tender pan-fried chicken thighs with a golden-crisp skin are possible with just a spoonful of oil and a bit of patience.

The hardest part of this recipe is waiting while they slowly cook on the stove-top. You want the skin to be golden-brown with all the fat rendered before you turn them over. This chicken is completely worth the wait!

Perfect Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Pan Fried Chicken Thighs

These pan-fried chicken thighs have become a staple in my house over the past few years. I made this chicken at least once a week for the first couple of months and I still make it at least once a month. The chicken turns out perfectly every single time.

My kids now ask for the “crispy skin chicken” every time they see me purchasing chicken. This pan-cooked chicken has been a kid and adult favorite for over ten years now.

Can you fry chicken in olive oil?

Short answer? YES! I’ve been asked so many times, I finally made a note in the recipe card. I used to use refined (unscented) coconut oil to pan-fry chicken because it had a slightly higher smoking point, but I’ve been using olive oil for years now without any issues at all.

You’re not cooking at a high temp and you aren’t deep frying the chicken either. This is a shallow pan fry method that requires just a tablespoon of oil. You’ll be just fine with olive oil in this case.

After cooking chicken this way for a couple of years, I decided to play with an oven method for achieving the same crispy chicken thighs. I’m thrilled to tell you that this Oven Baked Crispy Chicken is pretty amazing too.

My first choice for crispy chicken thighs is the pan-fried method, but a very close second (and perfect for the busiest of days) is the crispy chicken made in the oven. I’m so happy to have two great methods now for cooking perfectly crispy chicken.

pan fried chicken in skillet

Irresistible Mandarin Broccoli Salad is a terrific side dish with both chicken recipes, as is this Creamy Pasta Salad or this Panera Mac and Cheese.

These Instant Pot Sweet Potatoes are next on my list to try with this chicken. What’s not to love about a piping hot silky smooth sweet potato that practically cooks itself?

Perfect Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

How Long To Fry Chicken Thighs

  1. Pour a tablespoon of oil into a large stainless or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. (A non-stick skillet will work as well, although it isn’t required.)
  2. Generously sprinkle the skin side of the chicken thighs with spices and then place them in the hot skillet, skin side down. Sprinkle the other side of the thighs and then, without moving them, cook uncovered* for about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Let the chicken cook until the fat has rendered and the skin is deep golden brown and crisp; this could take as long as 30 minutes. If the skin is sticking to the pan, it likely isn’t finished on that side. Reduce the heat as needed if the skin starts to burn before it is evenly golden brown.
  4. Turn the thighs over and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. When the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, the chicken is done.

* Please note that a splatter-screen for your skillet will help cut down on the mess on the stovetop and a small bowl with a cup of vinegar set next to the stove will greatly reduce the lingering aroma of this recipe through the rest of the night.

Pan Fried Chicken in skillet with striped towel

Frying Chicken Thighs in a Pan

When I finally learned how to cook chicken on the stove, I was in heaven. Crispy chicken thighs really are possible without deep frying or standing over the stove the whole time.

With a few tips in hand, you’re going to be making some amazing chicken in no time. First, you’ll want to start with a heavy skillet.

splatter-screen for cooking will help cut down on the mess on the stovetop.

A small bowl with a cup of vinegar set next to the stove will greatly reduce the lingering aroma of this recipe through the rest of the night.

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Perfect Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs

4.43 from 47 votes
Juicy, tender chicken thighs with a golden-crisp skin are possible with just a spoonful of oil and a bit of patience.
Pin Print Review
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 50 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or light flavored olive oil
  • 4-6 chicken thighs depending on size (4 large pieces fill my skillet)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional spices: garlic and paprika

Instructions

  • Pour the oil into a large stainless or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. (A non-stick skillet will work as well, although it isn't required.) Generously sprinkle the skin side of the chicken thighs with spices and then place them in the hot skillet, skin side down.
  • Sprinkle the other side of the thighs and then, without moving them, cook uncovered* for about 20-25 minutes. Let them cook until the fat has rendered and the skin is deep golden brown and crisp; this could take as long as 30 minutes.
  • If the skin is sticking to the pan, it likely isn’t finished on that side. Reduce the heat as needed if the skin starts to burn before it is evenly golden brown. Turn the thighs over and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes. When the meat closest to the bone is cooked through, the chicken is done. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Please note that a splatter-screen for your skillet will help cut down on the mess on the stovetop and a small bowl with a cup of vinegar set next to the stove will greatly reduce the lingering aroma of this recipe through the rest of the night.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 278kcal · Protein: 18g · Fat: 22g · Saturated Fat: 5g · Cholesterol: 110mg · Sodium: 87mg · Potassium: 231mg · Vitamin A: 90IU · Calcium: 9mg · Iron: 0.8mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 4/17/13 – recipe notes and photos updated 9/1/2022}

close up of fried chicken in skillet
Perfect Pan Fried Chicken Thighs are possible with just a tablespoon of oil! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Anna says

    I just cooked these tonight. A+
    I usually do thighs in the oven but my oven is broken. So good! I used peanut oil. That’s all I had. The skin is beautiful and the flavor is fantastic. I did 15 min on the skin side and 27 min after turning. The chicken is juicy and delicious. And that skin is perfect, so crisp. I’m going to cook thighs this way from now on. It spattered like crazy but the stove top needs to be cleaned anyway. So good. I have a gas stove no idea how a person with electric burners could possibly cook this correctly.5 stars