There are different ways to cook chicken thighs, but I’ve got to tell you, this is one of my favorite recipes because of its simplicity and the killer chicken thigh marinade it uses. This marinade has amazing Asian flavors, but also makes use of Worcestershire sauce and maple syrup that add sweetness and additional flavors and balance.
You can use this marinade as the base to make baked Asian chicken and honey garlic baked chicken drumsticks as well, it works really well. Just make sure to marinate the chicken overnight and up to 24 hours for best results.
Now, you can mix the ingredients up, cover chicken thighs, marinate for 30 minutes and bake, and they will taste quite good. But if you let them marinate in a fridge for a few hours or even longer, say overnight, they will blow your mind with intense, deep and complex flavors, and tender and juicy meat. I like to whip up the marinade in the morning and let the thighs marinate during the day, and then cook them in the evening for dinner.
This thigh marinade is salted just enough, so if you let the thighs marinate for longer, they won’t get too salty. I’ve marinated chicken thighs using this recipe for 24 hours, and they only got better in taste, but not even a bit saltier than they should be.
How long to cook chicken thighs really depends on the size of the thighs and the oven temperature. For example, if you bake bone-in, skin on thighs at 450 degrees F, they will reach 165 degrees F internal temperature and be ready in about 25-30 minutes. On the other hand, skin-on, boneless thighs will take about 20-25 minutes to get there.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with using my BBQ thermometer when baking meat and poultry in the oven, with excellent results.
All you need to do is insert a probe in the meat where it stays throughout the entire cooking time, until the meat reaches target temperature. It’s super convenient as you don’t have to run back and forth and check the temperature a dozen times. I am now in love with this fool-proof way of baking.
My favorite BBQ thermometer is the ThermoWorks with professional Type K thermocouple probes. I chose this thermometer because it can take high heat probes that won’t burn out easily when exposed to high temperatures and open flame during grilling or smoking, which I do very often.
That said, for kitchen oven use there are many very good and inexpensive BBQ thermometers that will last a long time with basic care. The ThermoPro TP07 or it’s more advanced sibling ThermoPro TP08 that adds a second probe for monitoring oven/grill/smoker temperature, are very good.
I normally bake my chicken thighs on the top rack, which really helps with browning and crisping up skin. Sometimes I don’t get the colors and crispness I am looking for, so I resort to broiling. Broiling chicken thighs on high for 2-3 minutes at the end of baking usually solves that problem.
Basting the thighs with own juices during baking will also help with browning and keeping the tops moist. I normally baste once at about 15-20 minutes into baking.
Chicken Thigh Marinade
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 4 lbs)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (or lime juice)
- 5 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- ½ tsp black pepper (freshly ground)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
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- Mix all ingredients for the marinade together in a large bowl or a plastic Ziploc bag. Add the chicken and make sure that every piece is covered evenly. Marinate in a fridge for at least 30 minutes to 2 hours or, better yet, overnight.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Place the chicken and all of the marinade in a baking dish. Bake uncovered at 450 degrees F for 25-30 minutes with the skin side up, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. To make sure the chicken tops are nicely browned and do not dry out, baste the chicken thighs in the juices and marinade about 15-20 minutes into baking.
- To get a nicely browned, crisped up skin, turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes when the thighs are almost done cooking. Monitor broiling very closely as the tops may burn if broiled for too long.