Make some pan seared cast iron chicken thighs if you want something quick and easy to make for dinner tonight. With just 3 ingredients and 25 minutes of cooking time, you and your family can enjoy incredibly juicy and tender meat with flavor like it was roasted for hours!
This is another of our super easy skillet chicken recipes that you can make in less than 30 minutes. When you want a delicious meal that you can cook up quickly, that’s the time to pull out your cast iron skillet!
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Reasons to Make Cast Iron Chicken Thighs
- Quick 20-minute meal.
Chicken thighs are a great option for a quick and easy dinner. They are tasty and flavorful and cook up quickly in a cast iron skillet.
- Easy clean up.
Do you know that if it’s seasoned properly, cast iron cookware is actually more non-stick than Teflon?!
- Great for busy weeknights!
This recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight, or really any time you need a quick and easy meal idea. The chicken thighs can even be cooked in advance and then reheated.
Love easy chicken recipes?
If one pan meals are your go-to, definitely check out our recipes for cast iron chicken breast and sheet pan chicken thighs and veggies.
If your family likes chicken tenders, we think you’ll love oven baked marinated chicken tenders and spicy Nashville chicken tenders.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Chicken – We use bone-in chicken thighs, and we leave the skin on. This keeps the meat extra juicy and tender. If you prefer boneless skinless chicken thighs, you can use them, but you won’t be able to sear them as well.
Also, boneless meat doesn’t take as long to cook, so you will need to reduce the cooking time by about 5 minutes.
- Seasonings – To keep things simple, we only season with garlic salt and black pepper for this recipe. However, you can use different spices, such as smoked paprika, garlic powder, or a blend of herbs.
Pan Seared Chicken Recipe – Tips for Success
- Avoid using a non-stick pan.
You want the skin to make contact with the pan and stick! That is the key to creating golden, crispy goodness.
If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, use any other type of heavy, oven-safe pan. The high heat you need for searing chicken can damage non-stick cookware.
- Preheat your skillet so it’s searing hot before adding oil.
The key to preventing chicken thighs (or any other food) from sticking in a cast iron skillet is to ensure that the skillet and the oil are both hot before you add it to the pan.
Wait for the pan to get hot, add the oil, and wait until it begins to shimmer, then add the food.
- Resist the urge to move the pan seared chicken as it cooks.
After adding the thighs to the pan, leave them alone until it’s time to flip the pieces over. As soon as the skin is properly seared, it will release itself from the skillet.
🎯 TFN Pro Tip – Don’t crowd the pan.
If your cast iron skillet is small, you may need to pan sear the chicken thighs in two batches. If the pieces are too close together, they will steam rather than sear.
- Finish cooking your pan seared chicken thighs in the oven.
Technically, cast iron chicken thighs can be cooked from start to finish in the pan on your stovetop. However, it takes a lot longer to cook bone-in chicken to 165°F when you don’t have heat circulating around the pieces.
This is why we finish roasting them in the hot oven! It just needs 10 to 15 minutes to finish cooking through.
- Use an instant-read kitchen thermometer to test cast iron chicken thighs for doneness.
When properly cooked, cast iron chicken thighs should have an internal temperature of 165°F, at the thickest portion of the meat. Be sure the probe of the thermometer isn’t touching any bone.
Pan Seared Chicken Recipe Variations
- Add some heat with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Drizzle with sauce or gravy. Healthy, yogurt-based shawarma sauce is delicious with pan seared chicken!
- For a more flavorful dish, try marinating the chicken with our balsamic marinade.
What To Serve With Skillet Chicken Thighs
Wondering what to serve with chicken thighs? How about some instant pot mashed potatoes, or hashbrown casserole (as shown in our photos). For a bit of healthy greens, we recommend green beans, maple balsamic brussel sprouts, or a kale salad with tahini dressing.
Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat in the microwave or oven until warmed through before serving.
You could also freeze the cooked chicken thighs for up to three months. Thaw in the fridge overnight and then reheat before serving.
To reheat, cook in a 350ºF oven until warmed through. You can also reheat them in the microwave, but cover the dish with a damp paper towel to prevent the chicken from drying out.
If you are reheating frozen baked chicken, thaw it in the fridge overnight before reheating.
Pan Seared Chicken Recipe FAQ
If your pan seared poultry is dry or tough, it is likely because it was overcooked. Cooking chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet can be tricky, because the skillet retains so much heat. For the best results, use a digital instead-read cooking thermometer, cooking the chicken until the internal temperature is 163°F. As it rests after cooking, the internal temperature will rise to 165 degrees.
Cast Iron Chicken Thighs
- large cast iron skillet - 11-12 inches
- 2 pounds chicken thighs bone-in, skin on (about 6 thighs)
- 2 teaspoons garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Dry the chicken thighs by patting dry with paper towel.
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic salt and pepper. Sprinkle on both sides of chicken.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil on cast iron skillet and preheat over medium-high heat until hot, oil should be shimmering but not smoking.
- Place chicken thighs into the pan, skin side down. Do not cover with a lid, instead use a splatter screen to contain the oil. Cook without moving them at all for 5-7 minutes to give the chicken skin the perfect crispy sear.
- Once the chicken skins are deep golden and crispy, use long tongs to turn flip the chicken pieces over and do the same to the other side.
- Transfer the skillet with the chicken to the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Test the internal temperature of the center of the chicken thighs (avoiding the bone) with an instant read meat thermometer and if it is 165ºF they are done.