Easy Grilled Chicken Thighs (Bone-In or Boneless!) (VIDEO)

5 from 4 votes
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Smokey, juicy, and tender Grilled Chicken Thighs are slightly charred and oh so delicious – once you try this recipe, you’ll be grilling Chicken Thighs all summer long! The best part is this super easy recipe can be made with both bone-in and boneless chicken thighs – either way will still result in the most flavorful and juicy Grilled Chicken Thighs!

Cooked grilled chicken thighs with crispy skin on a plate.

Watch the Grilled Chicken Thighs Recipe Video Below!

Grilling Makes Everything Taste Better (Like Chicken Thighs!)

I love to grill at home, especially during the warmer months (which, in Southern California, is basically every month) – there’s nothing quite like the smoke and flavors of Korean Marinated Short Ribs or a perfectly grilled Steak! I think everything tastes better grilled and it’s so much easier than you think it is! This Grilled Chicken Thighs recipe is the perfect way to start your grilling journey – trust me, you’re going to be known for your grilling once you’ve tried this recipe! If you’re a beginner, you can even just start with cooking Beef Bulgogi or Spicy Pork Bulgogi on a grilling pan or skillet!

A cooked chicken thigh over a grill being held by tongs.

What Ingredients do I need for Grilled Chicken Thighs?

  • 3 lbs bone in or boneless chicken thighs, with skin
    • This recipe for Grilled Chicken Thighs is written so you can grill either bone-in or boneless chicken thighs! The only difference is adjusting the grilling time.
    • Bone-in chicken thighs will take longer (about 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the chicken reads 165°F). Boneless chicken will take about half the time, 25-30 minutes.
    • Personally, I prefer to grill bone-in chicken thighs, if I have the time. I find that bone-in meat has a deeper, meatier flavor due to the bone marrow . However, the beauty of chicken thighs is that even boneless meat is very hard to dry out. It’s perfect for grilling!
    • The chicken thigh skin will get deliciously crispy when grilled – it’s my favorite part of the dish!
  • Seasoning – you can adjust the below to your own liking.
  • 1 tablespoon aluminum free baking powder: Baking powder is my secret ingredient to the crispiest Grilled Chicken Thighs. (Yes, the same one that is used in baked goods!)
    • Baking powder does 2 things:
      • It helps break down the proteins in the chicken skin by increasing the pH levels
      • It draws moisture to the surface of the chicken skin, where it can evaporate. These two things help the chicken skin become extra crispy (while keeping the meat juicy) when grilled!
    • You must use aluminum-free baking powder so you don’t notice the flavor when the chicken thighs are grilled.
    • You cannot substitute baking powder with baking soda – they are not the same thing and baking soda will make your Grilled Chicken Thighs taste very bad!
  • Optional: Apple, cherry, pecan or oak wood
    • You can add different smoking wood to add an extra layer of flavor. Each wood adds a unique flavor! I am a big fan of using fruit woods, like apple or cherry, for chicken. I like that they have mild, sweet flavors that do not overwhelm the flavors of the Grilled Chicken Thighs, while still adding the perfect amount of smokiness.
    • Fruit woods are also easier for home cooks to grill with.

If you love chicken thighs, you need to try my easy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs or Air Fryer Chicken Skewers! Don’t want to grill? Make my Baked Chicken Thighs!

Raw ingredients for easy grilled chicken thighs.

Grilled Chicken Thighs: Step-By-Step Recipe Instructions

1. Prepare the Chicken Thighs

Pat the chicken thighs as dry as possible with a paper towel. (Baking powder will adhere better to dry skin, which will result in a much crispier chicken skin.)

Pull back the chicken skin gently without detaching it from the meat. Do this for all the chicken thighs. Place them skin side down on the cutting board.

A hand pulling the skin back from the chicken thighs.

2. Season the Chicken Thighs

Season the chicken thighs with the seasoning mix on the meat side. Turn them over then pull the skin back on the top of the chicken thighs and season directly onto the meat. This is actually a technique I learned at a grilling competition from BBQ experts!

The meat side of the chicken thighs seasoned on a cutting board.

Once seasoned, pull the chicken skin back on to the meat and season with the remaining 1/4 of the seasoning.

Once the chicken meat and skin has been seasoned, sprinkle baking powder over the skin only. Rub the baking powder gently into the chicken skin until it is no longer visible.

Let the chicken sit at room temperature while you head to the grill! This will let the seasonings absorb into the chicken.

3. Heat the Grill

Add charcoal to your grill. You will be creating two zones – a “direct heat” and “indirect heat” zone. Divide your grill into two halves – rake the coals to one half of the grill, leaving the other half empty. The area directly over the coals will be your “direct heat” zone, while the area left empty will be your “indirect heat” zone.

Charcoal on one side of the grill with cherry wood on top to create a direct and indirect heat zone.

Optional: You can add different smoking wood to add an extra layer of flavor, such as Apple, Cherry, Pecan, or Oak woods. Each wood adds a unique flavor! For Grilled Chicken Thighs, I recommend trying Apple or Cherry.

Heat the grill to 400°F – you are ready to start grilling!

Key Tip

Grilling Heat Zones 101

Creating two zones of “direct” and “indirect” heat allows you to choose the best temperature to grill your food.

“Direct” heat is good for food that cooks quickly (like thin patties for burgers), while “indirect” heat is better for food that take longer (such as Grilled Chicken Thighs) or could burn or dry out if cooked over “direct” heat, like vegetables.

The “indirect” method works like a convection oven, circulating heat to cook food evenly on all sides without needing to be turned (versus over “direct” heat, where you would need to flip the food to avoid getting scorched).

4. Grill the Chicken Thighs over Indirect Heat

Place the chicken thighs on the “indirect heat” side. Note: you can use either bone-in or boneless chicken thighs. The only difference will be that bone-in chicken thighs will take roughly double the time it takes for boneless chicken thighs to cook.

Seasoned chicken thighs on the indirect side of the grill.

For bone-in chicken thighs, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the chicken registers 160°F.

For boneless chicken thighs, this should take about half the time or 25-30 minutes.

Grilled chicken thighs cooking over indirect heat.

Key Tip

Use a Thermometer!

I highly recommend using a thermometer when grilling – it is the only way you can confirm your food is safe to eat and also at your desired level of doneness:

  • Undercooked meat can have harmful bacteria that can make you or your guests sick. Using a thermometer is the only way you can confirm the internal temperature is high enough to have destroyed them.
  • Grilling can sometimes feel like guesswork – it’s difficult to tell when your meat is over or undercooked. Using a thermometer to check the temperature of your food means you can confirm where it is in the cooking process and achieve your desired level of doneness.

5. Grill the Chicken skin side down over direct heat

Once the chicken registers 160°F internal, it’s time to move them over to the direct heat to crisp up the skin! This will achieve two things: allow the chicken to cook to 165°F over the direct heat AND crisp up the skin thanks to the baking powder we added earlier. Look how crispy and blistered the skin looks here. It’s extra crispy!

A cooked chicken thigh over a grill being held by tongs.

6. Optional: Toss the Chicken Thighs in Sauce

If you want non-sauced chicken thighs, you can stop at step #3 and remove your perfectly Grilled Chicken Thighs to enjoy!

If you prefer a sauced grilled chicken thighs, keep reading!

Remove the Grilled Chicken Thighs and toss in a large bowl with your favorite BBQ sauce or hot sauce. Add the sauced chicken thighs back on the grill on the “indirect” side and let sit for 5 minutes – this additional step will help the sauce thicken and adhere to the wings.

Remove and enjoy!

Homemade Sauces for Grilled Chicken

I love making as many Sauces and Condiments at home as possible! It allows me to:

  • control the quality of my ingredients
  • avoid unnecessary additives or preservatives
  • I can customize it to my taste (I usually prefer sauces on the less sweet and more spicy side)

Here are some of my favorite sauces you can use with this Grilled Chicken Thighs recipe:

  • Homemade Ranch for dipping
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Raising Cane’s Sauce
  • Chick-Fil-A Sauce
  • Honey Mustard
  • Teriyaki Sauce
  • Spicy Mayo

What Should I Serve with Grilled Chicken Thighs?

If you’re grilling this summer, you’ll need some delicious sides to go with your meal! Make sure to include my Hawaiian Macaroni Salad, super creamy Mashed Potatoes, and classic Baked Mac and Cheese! My personal favorite during the warmer weather is a refreshing cucumber salad, like my viral Din Tai Fung Cucumber Salad, Chinese Smashed Cucumber Salad, or 10 minute Korean Cucumber Salad.

I find it’s so easy to roast vegetables in the oven while grilling – try my Roasted Brussels Sprouts (or Air Fryer Roasted Brussels Sprouts), Honey Roasted Carrots, Roasted Cauliflower, or Roasted Green Beans with Bacon!

PRO TIPS

Expert Tips for Grilling The BEST Chicken Thighs at Home!

Chicken Prepping Techniques

  • Pull the skin off the chicken thighs to season the meat on all sides – this will give your Grilled Chicken Thighs so much flavor! This is actually a technique I learned in a grilling competition alongside other BBQ experts.
  • Pat dry the chicken skin before sprinkling baking powder. Baking powder will adhere better to dry skin, which will result in a much crispier chicken skin.
  • Baking powder is my secret ingredient to the crispiest skin on Grilled Chicken Thighs! Use aluminum free baking powder and do not substitute with baking soda – that will not work!
    • It helps break down the proteins in the chicken skin by increasing the pH levels
    • It draws moisture to the surface of the chicken skin, where it can evaporate.

Create Direct and Indirect Grilling Zones

  • Creating two zones of “direct” and “indirect” heat allows you to choose the best temperature to grill your food.
    • “Direct” heat is good for food that cooks quickly (like thin patties for burgers), while indirect heat is better for food that take longer (such as Grilled Chicken Thighs) or could burn or dry out if cooked over direct heat, like vegetables.
    • Grilling over “indirect” heat will help render the fat out of the Grilled Chicken Thighs and crisp up the skin while keeping the meat juicy.

Use a Thermometer!

  • Using a thermometer is the only way you can confirm the internal temperature is high enough to have destroyed any harmful bacteria that lives in undercooked meat.
  • Checking the temperature of your food with a thermometer helps you confirm where it is in the cooking process and achieve your desired level of doneness.

Add Smoking Woods for Extra Flavor

  • Experiment with different types of wood to add a smokey flavor to your chicken. Apple, Cherry, Pecan, and Oak woods all bring a unique flavor to the grill. For Grilled Chicken Thighs , I love using a fruit like Apple or Cherry.

Storage, Reheating, and Make Ahead Tips

You can store leftover Grilled Chicken Thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can reheat them in the air fryer at 350°F for 6-8 minutes until the skin is crispy and meat is warmed through!

To make ahead, you can season the chicken in step 1 and leave them in the fridge overnight and they can be grilled the next day.

If you tried this Grilled Chicken Thighs Recipe or any other recipe on my website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it went in the comments below!

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5 from 4 votes

Perfectly Grilled Chicken Thighs (Bone-In or Boneless!)

Servings: 6
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Cooked grilled chicken thighs with crispy skin on a plate.
Make these easy grilled chicken thighs on the grill that come out so juicy and delicious! This will be your new go to grilled chicken recipe with a delicious sweet and smoky seasoning blend and a cooking method that guarantees juicy, delicious chicken thighs with a crispy skin!

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Pat chicken thighs dry and pull back the skin without detaching it from the meat.
  • Season on all sides with ¾ of the seasoning and oil, except the baking powder. Pull the skin back onto the meat and season. Once the chicken is seasoned, sprinkle baking powder over the skin of the chicken thighs and rub it into the skin until it is no longer visible. Let the chicken sit in the seasonings for about 30 minutes.
  • Add charcoal to the grill and create a direct and indirect zone. Add smoking wood if desired. Heat the grill to 400°F and add the chicken thighs to the indirect side.
  • For bone-in chicken, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the chicken registers 160°F. For boneless chicken, this should take about 25-30 minutes.
  • Move the chicken over to the direct heat skin side down. Allow the direct heat to continue to cook the chicken and crisp up the skin, about 2-3 minutes. Remove once the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Toss the chicken thighs in your favorite bbq sauce or hot sauce and then place on the indirect side of the grill. Let sit for 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken on the chicken thighs. Or simply eat without sauce!

Notes

  • Grilling over indirect heat will help render the fat out of the chicken thighs and crisp up the skin while keeping the meat juicy.
  • Pulling the skin off the chicken thighs and seasoning the meat will give your chicken thighs much more flavor. This is actually a technique that is used in BBQ competitions to ensure a seasoned chicken thigh!
  • The baking powder helps crisp up the thighs when grilling over indirect heat.
  • I recommend experimenting with different types of wood to add a smoky flavor to your steak. Apple, Cherry, Pecan, and Oak woods all bring a unique flavor to the grill. For chicken, I love using a fruit like Apple or Cherry.

Storage, Reheating, and Make Ahead Tips

You can store leftover Grilled Chicken Thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. You can reheat them in the air fryer at 350°F for 6-8 minutes until the skin is crispy and meat is warmed through!
To make ahead, you can season the chicken in step 1 and leave them in the fridge overnight and they can be grilled the next day.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 0.3gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.02gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.04gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 1322mgPotassium: 34mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 154IUVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 155mgIron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @cj.eats_ or tag #cjeatsrecipes!

About CJ

I’m a third generation Chinese-American home cook who has always loved cooking & eating! Welcome to my food blog, where you can find trusted, tested, easy & approachable recipes for the everyday home cook that taste delicious! I am so glad you're here!

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