If you're looking for tender, juicy, easy-to-shred chicken thighs then you'll want to follow my step-by-step instructions on how to boil chicken thighs. This mess-free, simple, and quick cooking method will quickly become one of your favorite ways to make bone-in chicken thighs!
If you've been a reader for any period of time, then you know that I LOVE chicken thighs! Two of the most popular recipes on my site are my Baked Buffalo Chicken Thighs and Crispy Dijon Chicken Thighs.
I've baked, roasted, grilled, air-fried, and pan-seared chicken thighs dozens of times. I just recently started boiling chicken thighs and it's quickly become one of my favorite ways to make chicken!
(My Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken is a close second!)
Boiling chicken thighs is hands-off, it's a very simple process, the fat drippings stay contained in the stockpot, and the meat cooks perfectly every single time!
- Why you'll love this recipe
- Equipment needed
- How to boil chicken thighs
- How long to boil chicken thighs?
- Expert tips
- Substitutions and variations
- How to store, freeze and reheat
- What to make with boiled chicken thighs
- Frequently asked questions
- Chicken thigh recipes you might also like
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- 💬 Comments
Why you'll love this recipe
- I include an optional (but totally recommended) second step to crisp up the chicken skin.
- There is virtually no prep time for this recipe. Once the water is boiling, simply place the chicken thighs in the pot and let them do their thing!
- This is technically a 1-ingredient recipe. You can add additional seasonings into the water if you want, but it's totally optional.
- This is a really easy way to meal-prep chicken. You can cook a large quantity at a single time and barely dirty any dishes in the process.
- Bone-in chicken thighs are flavorful, juicy, and they make the most delicious broth! I love to reuse chicken broth to make Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Bone-in chicken thighs are a cheaper, more affordable cut of dark meat compared to boneless chicken breast or boneless chicken thighs.
- Boiling chicken thighs can remove excessive amounts of fat from the chicken. Skin-on chicken thighs can have a pretty high-fat content otherwise.
Chicken thighs: You'll need bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Technically, you can boil boneless chicken thighs, but I don't recommend it.
Optional ingredients: I like to add a couple of tablespoons of chicken broth concentrate (chicken Boullion cube) to my boiling water. This adds a good amount of salty flavor to the broth and to the chicken meat. Salt and pepper work as well!
- Stockpot: I use a stainless steel, 8-quart stockpot. A large Dutch Oven would work as well.
- Baking sheet: You'll need a large baking sheet with a rim.
How to boil chicken thighs
- Place chicken thighs in your stockpot.
- Cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil until fully cooked.
- Transfer to a baking sheet and broil until the skin is golden brown and crispy.
Step 1: Place your chicken thighs in the bottom of a large stockpot. They can overlap and stack on top of each other.
Step 2: Add cold water to your stockpot to fully submerge the chicken in the water. I like to fill the pot to within a couple of inches from the top.
Step 3: Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken bouillon, and continue cooking the chicken thighs at a gentle boil for 20-30 minutes. Check for doneness using a digital instant-read thermometer.
Chicken is fully cooked when it has reached an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooked chicken will no longer be pink, juices will run clear, and the meat will easily shred and pull away from the bone.
Step 4: When fully cooked, use a slotted spoon or kitchen tongs to remove the thighs from the water. I like to press the thighs against the side of the pot to squeeze as much water out of them as possible.
Place the cooked thighs on a rimmed baking sheet skin-side up.
Step 5: Broil the thighs on high until the skin is golden brown and crisp. This usually takes about 5-8 minutes.
Crisping up the skin could also be achieved on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet. Sear the chicken skin-side down in a little olive oil in your skillet. I prefer the broiler method though because it's easier and less messy.
Remove the boiled chicken from the oven and serve immediately!
How long to boil chicken thighs?
How long it takes to boil chicken thighs depends on the size of the chicken thighs, and whether they're fresh or frozen.
Fresh, medium to large-sized chicken thighs only take 20-30 minutes to boil. Smaller chicken thighs may only take 10-15 minutes.
Frozen chicken thighs will take 10-15 minutes longer to boil than fresh chicken thighs. So frozen chicken thighs will take up to 45 minutes to fully cook.
- Make sure your stockpot is large enough to comfortably fit all of your chicken thighs. I like to use an 8-quart stockpot.
- Add cold water to your cooking pot. Cold water allows the chicken to cook more evenly.
- Don't be afraid to season your stock water with herbs, spices, and aromatics! This will help season your chicken from within.
- Bring the chicken to a gentle boil. Rapid boiling can result in tough meat.
- The last step in my recipe where I instruct you to broil your chicken thighs is totally optional! I only do this step if I plan on eating the chicken thighs as a stand-alone main dish for dinner. If you want to shred your chicken thighs to use in soup, chicken pot pie, or on pizza, then you don't need to broil them.
- Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil for easier cleanup!
Substitutions and variations
Sauces and seasonings: Before placing your chicken thighs under the broiler, add BBQ sauce, teriyaki sauce, buffalo sauce, or balsamic glaze. Add dry rubs, salt, pepper, or your favorite all-purpose chicken seasoning.
Fresh herbs: Serve your chicken thighs topped with fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, or basil.
How to store, freeze and reheat
How to store: Store leftover chicken thigh meat in a glass, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to freeze: Shredded frozen chicken is a convenient way to have pre-cooked chicken on hand for easy meals. I prefer to remove the chicken from the bone, shred it, let it fully cool, and then portion it out into airtight freezer bags. Frozen chicken will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 3 months.
How to reheat: You can reheat bone-in chicken thighs in the oven, microwave, or on the stovetop. Reheat leftover chicken thighs in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, loosely covered in foil, for 15-20 minutes.
What to make with boiled chicken thighs
There are an unlimited number of meals you can make with boiled chicken thighs! I prefer to make them as a main meal and serve chicken thighs with a starch and a vegetable (two of my favorite sides are baked potatoes and Air Fryer Zucchini). However, you can also make:
- Chicken salad: If you need a delicious recipe for creamy chicken salad, I have two for you to choose from - Classic Chicken Salad and Creamy Mediterranean Chicken Salad.
- Chicken noodle soup: Nothing beats the classic combination of shredded chicken, flavorful broth, carrots, onions, and celery in Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup.
- Chicken quesadillas: Layer shredded chicken, cheese, peppers, onions, salsa, and guacamole between flour tortillas. Grill them in a hot skillet until the cheese is warm and melty.
- Chicken pot pie: When you have your chicken already cooked, chicken pot pie is actually a really easy dish to make! Especially if you use frozen pie crust and frozen carrots and peas.
- Chicken pizza: One of my all-time favorite ways to use up leftover shredded chicken is on BBQ chicken pizza. Layer shredded chicken, BBQ sauce, and cheddar cheese on a pizza shell. Bake until the cheese has melted.
- Chicken wraps: Layer shredded chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, and your favorite condiments in a large sandwich wrap. Pinwheel sandwiches are one of my favorite ways to make sandwich wraps!
- Chicken Caesar salad: Toss shredded, boiled chicken thighs on my Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons to add some protein!
Frequently asked questions
Refer to my post for a more detailed answer on how long to boil chicken thighs. In general though, fresh chicken thighs will be fully cooked after boiling for 20-30 minutes.
Boneless chicken thighs will only take about 10 minutes to fully cook in boiling water. This is because they are much thinner and smaller than bone-in chicken thighs.
If you're boiling chicken thighs to feed to your dog, then you don't want to add any additional vegetables, aromatics, herbs, or spices to your cooking water. When the chicken has fully cooked, remove all chicken bones before feeding it to your pet.
You can finish your chicken thighs on the grill. Follow my instructions for boiling chicken thighs, and then instead of putting the cooked thighs under the broiler, place them skin side down on a hot grill. Grill until the skin has become brown and crispy.
Chicken thigh recipes you might also like
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