Easy Grilled Chicken Thighs, Plus 5 Ways to Serve Them for Summer


Summer is here, which means that it’s time to fire up the grill. We’ve partnered with Just BARE Chicken, producers of humane-certified chicken, to share one of our test kitchen director’s go-to recipes for the season: grilled chicken thighs with a lemongrass glaze.

“There is no greater cut of poultry than the über-versatile chicken thigh,” says Senior Editor Eric Kim, aka The Chicken Thigh King. As much as I lean on the ever-popular chicken breast for busy weeknights and meal-prepped lunches, I’ve since come to realize that he’s absolutely right.

Photo by Bobbi Lin. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Amanda Widis.

Juicy and flavorful on their own (just a little bit of salt and pepper will do), chicken thighs are only made better with the addition of spice blends, marinades, and sauces. What’s more, they can make an appearance in just about any dish—from BBQ and tacos, to stews and yakitori—without skipping a beat.

They also happen to make a wonderful summer grilling companion (if you don’t have a grill, a cast-iron skillet will work just fine), a statement that I’ll back up with evidence: these quick-marinated, ultra-flavorful grilled chicken thighs with lemongrass glaze from our test kitchen director, Josh Cohen.

Inspired by the flavors of Thailand and Vietnam, the sweet, sticky, and spicy-ish marinade gets its flavor from finely grated lemongrass and brown sugar, plus punchy ingredients like ginger, garlic, chiles, fish sauce, and fresh-squeezed lime. You won’t need to let the boneless, skinless chicken thighs hang out in this mixture for too long, though—just 45 minutes is plenty of time for them to soak up all that flavor.

After that, they’re ready to hit the grill for a couple of minutes on each side; the heat not only caramelizes the sugar, but also adds a nice char to the outside that plays off the sweetness. Then that leftover marinade gets reduced in a pan over a low flame until it becomes a thick, silky glaze that the chicken gets coated in right before serving.

And the possibilities for serving are pretty much endless, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • When I’m hosting a BBQ or cookout, I like to whip up a double (or triple) batch and serve them fresh off the grill over a bed of steamed rice, with fresh cilantro sprinkled over top.
  • For a no-fuss weeknight dinner, I’ll cut the chicken thighs intro strips and make a quick salad of romaine lettuce, shaved carrots, edamame, and pickled radishes (any extra glaze makes a great dressing).
  • Another dinner-friendly alternative: Chop the chicken thighs into cubes and stir them into fried rice.
  • If I’ve got leftovers, I’ll stuff a chicken thigh or two in a baguette for a banh mi-inspired sandwich (don’t forget the cucumber, cilantro, and pickled daikon, plus a swipe of mayo).
  • For the easiest-ever appetizer (or lunch), I’ll slice up the chicken thighs and toss them in crisp lettuce wraps with cabbage and pickled carrots.

I’m sure there are dozens of other tasty ways to spin these grilled chicken thighs; my latest idea involves using them as a pizza topping, along with pickled red onion, mozzarella, and cilantro. But the beauty is that they’re simple enough to make over and over again so you can experiment all summer long.

What’s your favorite way to grill chicken? Tell us in the comments below!

In partnership with Just BARE Chicken—producers of all-natural, humane-certified, and organic varieties of chicken that are always free of antibiotics, added hormones, or artificial additives —we’re excited to share our new go-to summer grilling recipe, starring chicken thighs. Juicy, easy to cook, and oh so flavorful, these grilled chicken thighs can be eaten any which way (from a hearty sandwich to crispy fried rice) but our favorite is simply served over a bed of fluffy white rice. But no matter which way you serve them, if you’re cooking with Just BARE Chicken, you know you’re cooking up something wholesome.

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