Dark meat lovers rejoice! Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs are fast, flavorful, and frugal. Oh, and buttery. And garlicky. If that’s not enough to sell you, I guess this is where I say this is a 30-minute meal and totally kid-approved. Sold now?
We’ve all got a few mealtime secret weapons, but I’m intent on building a whole arsenal of them. And like any good defense contractor, I want my artillery built to hit every target effectively, but as cheaply as possible. AYO! (Little DC-area humor for you there. Whew! Tough crowd.)
Anyhoo…this metaphorical stash is made up of boneless skinless chicken thigh recipes. Thighs are truly the unsung hero of the chicken. Not as fun as wings or legs, not as substantial as breasts, but they deserve more credit.
My culinary world opened up when I discovered thighs were an amazing alternative to breasts in lots of recipes that called for chicken chunks and a heavy hand with the seasoning, like chicken curry, spiced pomegranate chicken, or any of my flavorful healthy chicken stir fry bowls, like teriyaki or sweet and sour.
Anything that works that well as a component should be allowed to take the lead from time to time.
Balsamic grilled chicken thighs are one of the top performing recipes on OSK for a good reason. So many readers have told me it’s their go-to basic chicken recipe. These bacon wrapped chicken thighs are a crossover hit with both kids and the keto crowd. (And, frankly, while I have a soft spot for my cilantro lime chicken thighs, most of you prefer this slow cooker pulled chicken version because it makes quite possibly the best shredded chicken tacos ever, so who am I to fight my own genius?)
Garlic butter chicken thighs are a welcome addition to this stockpile. And you don’t even have to redirect your moral compass to enjoy this (flavor)bomb.
Chicken Thighs Make a Flavorful Chicken Dinner!
If chicken breasts are the old reliable, then chicken thighs are the new reliable.
- They’re Frugal: even in today’s economy (phew, I sound like my dad!…) they’re a better value-purchase than chicken breasts – especially when you factor in the time you need to take pounding out breasts to get them evenly cooked.
- They’re Practical: while chicken breasts typically need to be pounded thin when seared on the stove-top (for even cooking), chicken thighs don’t require such special treatment.
- They’re Flavorful: chicken thighs are dark meat, which means they’re a bit fatter, but also juicier. White meat (aka, chicken breasts) tend to dry out faster and that often results in a less tender bite. Bite for bite, chicken thighs pack in a few more calories but those calories translate to more flavorful, tender bites.
How to Make Garlic Butter Chicken Thighs
Seared boneless, skinless thighs are the perfect canvas for a decadent garlic butter pan sauce. This flavorful chicken dish pairs with an endless combination of sides to make a perfectly pleasing meal that’s ready in just half an hour!
- Pat the chicken thighs dry, trim any large fat deposits, then season liberally on each side with garlic powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Sear the chicken over medium high heat in a large, 12″ skillet. Don’t disturb the chicken while searing so that an even crust will form. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, then move to a plate.
- Saute the garlic and thyme for 1 minute, or until very fragrant.
- Reduce heat to medium and deglaze the pan with wine; continue cooking until the wine is reduced by half. This will cook off the alcohol, and allow the flavor from the wine to concentrate.
- Pour in chicken broth and lemon juice and bring the liquid to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add cold butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking until the butter emulsifies into the sauce. (To “emulsify” in cooking language means that the butter will smoothly incorporate into the broth, instead of breaking apart).
- Nestle the seared chicken into the pan sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes longer, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Spoon a bit of sauce over each piece of chicken, then garnish with more thyme leaves or parsley and serve right away.
- Trim any large, visible fat deposits from the chicken thighs before searing. Because this recipe cooks quickly, the fat won’t have time to render, and will instead become gummy and tough. Trim using kitchen scissor if you don’t trust your knife skills.
- Make sure the olive oil is fully heated before adding the chicken – the oil will appear to be “shimmering” with very slight ripples once it’s hot enough for searing.
- Moisture is the enemy of browning – be sure to pat the chicken dry before seasoning and searing.
- Don’t disturb the chicken while searing! Just let it cook, undisturbed, for at least 4 minutes per side. This will allow an even crust to form.
- Make sure the chicken develops a rich, golden brown sear for best flavor.
- The chicken won’t be fully cooked through after searing, and that’s okay! It will finish cooking in the sauce during the final step.
- Do check the internal temperature of the chicken with an instant read thermometer – boneless chicken thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F.
- Use COLD butter. Cold butter will emulsify into a sauce, while warm butter will simply melt.
- Use good quality butter, like Kerrygold. Butter is integral to both the flavor and richness of the sauce, and it’s great place to splurge just a little!
- If you don’t drink alcohol, replace the white wine with an equivalent amount of chicken broth. If you also want to replace the acidity from the wine, increase the lemon juice to 1.5 tablespoons.
Cooking With Wine
Deglazing is an important step in many stovetop recipes, especially when you’re building a pan sauce. Adding liquid to the skillet helps loosen any caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan; those bits will then be absorbed into the sauce, deepening the flavor.
Using wine to deglaze will take your dish to the next level. It adds flavor and an acidic balance. And while the alcohol burns off, the flavors from the wine you’ve selected will season the sauce, also adding depth.
Choose a dry white wine, instead of sweet, to develop the butter garlic pan sauce to accompany this seared chicken thigh recipe. We prefer sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, but an unoaked chardonnay is also a great choice (oaked can be too strong). Avoid sweet wines like riesling or moscato.
While you don’t need to break the bank, always choose a wine you’d gladly drink!
Can I Use Chicken Breast?
Yes! This is a quick cooking chicken skillet recipe, so opt for chicken cutlets, or pound the boneless chicken breasts thin (to about ¾″ thickness throughout) before seasoning and searing.
What to Serve with Garlic Butter Chicken?
A savory skillet chicken meal deserves a solid starch alongside it. Rice soaks up the sauce like a dream and mashed potatoes are always trusty sidekick for boneless chicken thigh recipes. If you’re the “go big or go home” sort, roasted garlic mashed potatoes are a tasty way to double down on butter and garlic.
You cannot go wrong pairing a tender crisp green vegetable with intensely seasoned chicken thighs. Try broccoli, aspargus or green beans. And when it comes to preparation? Chef’s choice! Like I said, you can’t go wrong.
Did you make this recipe for garlic butter chicken thighs? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
30-Minute Garlic Butter Chicken ThighsPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 2 lb boneless skinless chicken chicken thighs, 6 chicken thighs; See Note 1
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, or finely chopped fresh parsley
- ½ c dry white wine, See Note 2
- ¾ c chicken broth
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp cold butter
- Pat chicken dry, then trim any large fat deposits. Season liberally with Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and pepper on both sides.
- Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large 12” skillet. Once hot, place the chicken into the skillet in an even layer. Sear, undisturbed, for 4-5 minutes until a deep golden brown crust forms. Flip the chicken and saute on the other side until equally golden brown, an additional 4-5 minutes. Using tongs, remove the chicken and place on a plate.
- Add the garlic and fresh thyme and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute, until very fragrant.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Continue simmering until the wine is reduced by half.
- Pour in the chicken broth and lemon juice, stir well, and bring the liquid to a simmer.
- Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, whisking until fully melted after each addition. See Note 3.
- Nestle the seared chicken into the pan sauce and simmer 2-3 minutes longer, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F using an instant read thermometer. Spoon a bit of sauce over each piece of chicken, then garnish with more fresh thyme leaves or parsley and serve right away. Enjoy!