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

4.41 from 45 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. Karla says

    So easy and such a winner! As someone else stated, I cut up some lemons from my garden threw them in there with some fresh sage also. So easy and so so good!5 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Unfortunately, this won’t crisp up quite the same way if it is fully covered. However, when I don’t have a splatter screen available, I do angle a lid over the skillet, leaving airflow to the chicken, but preventing some of the splatter.

  2. Boris says

    I’ve been using this recipe for over a year now; about 3 times a month. Cook the chicken in my awesome skillet and it turns out perfectly juicy every time. The skin nice and crisp. Really just have to follow the recipe and you can’t go wrong.

  3. Mikala Henderson says

    I don’t understand. I put it in olive oil with salt and pepper on medium heat. In only 15 minutes they burned.3 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hi Mikala. My guess is that medium heat on your stove is a little hot. I’ve never had them burn like that. If you choose to try it again, I’d reduce the heat to medium-low for your stove.

    • Mikala Henderson says

      I certainly will! I’m determined to make this recipe work. I might try oil with a different smoke point as well. Thank you for your reply.

  4. Cordero says

    I tried the recipe and ended up burning the skin after only 15 minutes. I used a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Have you experienced this and can maybe tell me what I did wrong?

    • Mary Younkin says

      Did it burn, Cordero? or just stick to the pan? The chicken won’t release from the pan until the fat has rendered and the skin is crisp. It’s possible that the heat was too high. All stoves are different and medium heat on one stove might be too hot on another.

    • Bliss says

      There is also a difference between gas and electric .. I much prefer gas as its easier to control and cast iron because it maintains a constant temperature . These could be factors of why the chicken was burnt as well…. I’m going to try this recipe today .. Wish me luck 🙂

  5. Angie Snow says

    I’ve tried chicken since before trees were bushes and always gotten complemts. I usually get smaller thighs. However one of my daughters picked up a package of thighs for me. These are huge! I thought I’d better see who else would/could give me some tips! You are the perfect fit!
    (1) I’ve never began frying schicken skin side down. ..Its perfect!!
    (2) The timing and no flip flopping, another win!
    I do always marinate my chicken in buttermilk and dredge it in flour seasoned w/poultry seasoning, garlic & onion powder, sage, salt & pepper.
    My fried chsicken though, now looks almost as pretty as yours! Thank you!5 stars

  6. Cookie says

    I haven’t made this yet, but once I do, I will come back and rate it.

    Can you tell me how you’d do bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in this manner? I am a thigh lover, but my husband is SO not. Please let me know.

    In the interim, I”m gonna make this tonite as he’s out with a client and I can make it as described!

    • Mary Younkin says

      Honestly, I’m not a big fan of chicken breasts, so I don’t typically do that. However, it should work the same way. Skin side down first until it releases and then flip over and cook until done. Enjoy!

  7. Laura Gallagher says

    I’ve been cooking chicken for years except turning it every ten minutes. This time I used your recipe and I can’t believe how the skin turned out and a lot easier.
    Thank you5 stars

  8. Karla Cook says

    I noticed an asterisk next to uncovered. But I never saw an explanation as to why you would leave it uncovered. I generally do cover my chicken not only to cut down on splash but it seems to make the chicken cook more evenly. Can you explain?

    • Mary Younkin says

      The chicken will crisp up very nicely if cooked uncovered. It’s less predictable when covered. I use the splatter guards (that are linked in the post) to prevent making a big mess.

  9. O. Gray says

    I’ve made this probably 5 times now, and I LOVE it.
    My fiance loves it more. He always asks me when I am making it again haha.
    Thank you!5 stars

  10. Britt says

    I had smaller size chicken thighs & this worked perfectly. I used enough vegetable oil to cover the pan because my pan is uneven. I used salt, pepper, garlic powder & smoked paprika. Hubby loved it.5 stars

  11. William Leahy says

    This is a terrific recipe!Seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning because that’s what I had on hand. Directions were perfect …and so was the chicken.5 stars

  12. Norm Walker says

    Had thighs on med-low and they were burned on the first side in 16 minutes. This recipe is totally bs1 star

    • Mary Younkin says

      Hey Norm, did the chicken actually burn or just stick to the pan? The chicken won’t release from the pan until the fat has rendered and the skin is crisp. It’s also possible that the heat was too high. All stoves are different and medium heat on one stove might be too hot on another.

  13. Stephanie says

    First of all, I never comment on these recipes. But oh my god this recipe turned out amazing!!! I have never been able to cook chicken correctly And after reading this blog and then the comments I did everything you said but kept my heat to medium low since my chicken has always burned in the past and now I know it’s because my stove runs hot. But seriously thank you for this wonderful recipe they were a hit!

  14. Kate Morris says

    Recipe is superb! Going to try this again tonight.

    For those saying the recipe sucks. #3 strictly states to reduce the heat if the skin begins to burn, please have some common sense. You know your stove better than she does!5 stars