Learn How to Grill Chicken Thighs that are juicy, tender and delicious! With little time and effort this super simple grilled chicken thighs marinade provides for a powerful explosion of flavor!
We also love this chimichurri chicken and yogurt marinated chicken.
Table of Contents
- Grilled Chicken Thighs Marinade
- How to Grill Chicken Thighs Perfectly
- How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs?
- Should I Grill Chicken Thighs on High or Low Heat?
- Do You Grill Chicken Thighs with Skin Side Down First?
- Tips for Best Results
- What to Serve Grilled Chicken Thighs with?
- How to Store and Reheat
- More Chicken Thighs Recipes to Try
- More Favorite Grilled Recipes
- How to Grill Chicken Thighs Recipe
These grilled chicken thighs are probably one of the most flavorful chicken recipes you’ll ever enjoy!
I love to use a dry rub like taco seasoning or all purpose seasoning when grilling, but today we are talking about how to grill chicken thighs using fresh ingredients for a change. Marinade is the best way to make sure the flavor penetrates the meat and is permeated throughout every bite. Plus your grilled chicken thighs will have a crusty charred exterior.
This recipe is very similar to my cilantro lime chicken where cilantro is pulsed with other flavorings in a food processor, quickly marinated and then grilled to perfection.
Grilled Chicken Thighs Marinade
Grilled chicken thighs are marinated in chicken marinade made with 7 fresh simple ingredients.
- Canned coconut milk: Fat gives chicken moisture, and the coconut flavor adds to the sweetness and the taste. Substitute with yogurt or buttermilk.
- Lime juice: An acid that is a must for any marinade. Use lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, if that’s what you have.
- Cilantro: Pulverized cilantro flavor is intense and perfect for flavoring the meat. Parsley will work as well.
- Jalapeno: Adds a tiny spicy kick that is still kid-friendly. Feel free to add more jalapenos for a spicier version.
- Onions: They tenderize and start “cooking” the meat and are a major component of many great marinades.
- Chicken thighs: You’ll need about 3 pounds of bone-in skin-on chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken thighs will work as well.
How to Grill Chicken Thighs Perfectly
Here is how to grill chicken thighs in no time! Whip up marinade in a food processor or blender, marinate for as little as 1 hour or overnight, then grill.
Prepare the marinade: In a food processor or blender, add coconut milk, lime juice, onion, cilantro, salt and jalapeno. Process until smooth. I love my small food processor for these purposes!
Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, pour marinade over the chicken thighs and stir well to coat meat evenly. Cover, place in the refrigerator and marinate chicken thighs before grilling for 1 to 24 hours. I tried both timings and both were flavorful.
Grill chicken thighs: Preheat the grill to medium-high heat (400-450F) and rub grill grates with oiled paper towel. Grill chicken thighs for about 8-10 minutes per side while covered. Start with skin side down first, reduce the heat to low if fat is burning and flip grilled chicken pieces when meat is somewhat opaque on top.
Check internal temperature: When a meat thermometer inserted in the center reads 165 degrees F, your grilled chicken thighs are ready.
Rest the chicken: Remove chicken from the grill, transfer to a platter, cover with foil and let meat rest for about 5-10 minutes to allow the juices to settle.
How Long to Grill Chicken Thighs?
How long to grill chicken thighs depends whether you use bone-in chicken thighs or boneless chicken thighs, their size and how long they have been marinating.
Here is a handy time table with grilling times to use as a point of reference. As always, adjust accordingly to your grill and other factors mentioned above.
|Bone-in chicken thighs||14-16 minutes|
|Boneless skinless chicken thighs||10-12 minutes|
Should I Grill Chicken Thighs on High or Low Heat?
When it comes to grilling chicken thighs there are a few methods. I like to grill chicken thighs on high heat around 400 to 450 F or you can grill them at 350 to 375 F over direct heat.
Some people also like to use two zone grilling where once you preheat the grill you leave one side with burners on and grill chicken thighs on the other side with indirect heat.
The method you choose largely depends on how fatty are your chicken thighs and your grill.
Do You Grill Chicken Thighs with Skin Side Down First?
Grill chicken thighs with skin side down first, so it crisps up nicely. It is important to have well cleaned grilled grates so chicken skin doesn’t stick to them. Do not peak under the skin earlier than necessary. When cooked, crispy skin should slide off easily from the grill grates when metal spatula is inserted under it.
Tips for Best Results
So here are a few tricks I’ve learned with grilling chicken thighs.
- Leave the skin on during cooking to prevent the chicken from burning and drying out. Remove before serving if you don’t want to eat the skin.
- Do not check grilled chicken thighs with a knife: Do not cut with a knife into grilled chicken to see if juices run clear. If you cut too early, the juices run out and all of that goodness is gone. Instead, use a quality digital meat thermometer to make sure your chicken is ready.
- Trim off excess fat or skin: Before you even marinate the meat, so dripping fat during grilling won’t cause the flare ups.
- Do not marinate chicken past 24 hours because it starts to break down, especially when there is citrus involved.
- Longer marinated meat will cook faster.
- Discard the marinade: More often than not you’ll just discard the marinade. There are some cases where you can boil the marinade to cook it down and use it as a gravy or sauce. This is not one of those times!
What to Serve Grilled Chicken Thighs with?
Grilled chicken thighs are perfect for a busy weeknight or when you’re having people over for a BBQ on the weekend.
This grilled chicken packs such a flavor punch that you don’t serve it with anything that will overpower it. Below is a list of ways to serve it with a simple side dish.
- Green leafy salad: Simple spring mix salad is easy to prepare while chicken is grilling.
- Chock full of veggies salads: Creamy cucumber salad will round out a healthy meal nicely.
- A whole grain side dish: Enjoy grilled chicken thighs with Instant Pot quinoa or Instant Pot brown rice.
- A low carb grilled side: Grill zucchini right after grilling chicken. Because BBQ is still hot, it will be easy to clean it up after messy chicken skin, and also quick to prep while meat is grilling.
- Classic potato salad: Regular healthy potato salad or low carb cauliflower potato salad provide a classic side dish with less calories either way.
- Other classic BBQ sides such as Instant Pot baked beans or Instant Pot corn on the cob.
How to Store and Reheat
Store: Refrigerate grilled chicken thighs leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They also freeze really well and can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Add chicken to a skillet with a bit of water or broth. Cook covered for 5 minutes until heated all the way through. Or microwave.
Always grill chicken thighs with lid of your grill closed.
Yes you have to flip chicken thighs on the grill only once.
Some chicken thighs are larger and contain more fat than others. Also some grills run hotter. If you see your chicken thighs on the grill are causing too many flare ups, use two zone grilling method. Keep burners on one side and move chicken to the other side of the grill and cook over indirect heat.
All grills have hotter parts of it. Flip chicken thighs in order you put them on the grill and cook chicken on the edges of the grill longer. If you see flare ups, cook chicken over indirect heat. And always keep the cover on your BBQ on unless you’re flipping chicken thighs.
More Chicken Thighs Recipes to Try
- Baked chicken thighs
- Roasted chicken thighs and potatoes
- Greek chicken marinade
- Crockpot chicken thighs
More Favorite Grilled Recipes
Browse through all my favorite healthy grill recipes!
How to Grill Chicken Thighs
- 3 pounds chicken thighs bone in or boneless
- 1/2 cup coconut milk from a can
- 1 lime juice of
- 1/2 medium onion
- large handful cilantro
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 Jalapeño pepper with some seeds for mild, all seeds for hot
- In a food processor or blender, combine coconut milk, lime juice, onion, cilantro, salt and jalapeno pepper. Process until smooth.
- Place chicken thighs in a large bowl or any container that can be covered. Pour marinade over chicken, stir with tongs, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight (but no more than 24 hours).
- Preheat grill on medium-high heat (400-450F) and rub grill grates with oiled paper towel. Place chicken thighs skin side down on the grill, close the lid and cook bone-in chicken thighs for 7-8 minutes, boneless chicken thighs for 5-6 minutes. Turn the chicken over, close the lid and cook for another 7-8 minutes or 5-6 minutes or until internal read thermometer inserted in the thickest part has reached 165 degrees F.
- Remove chicken on a platter, cover with foil and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Serve grilled chicken thighs warm with cucumber salad, avocado corn salad or mango black bean salad.
- Store: Refrigerate covered for up to 5 days. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheat: In a skillet, add a splash of water or broth and grilled chicken thighs. Simmer covered on low for 5 minutes.
- Make ahead: Chicken can be marinated for a maximum of 24 hours.
- Some chicken thighs are larger and contain more fat than others. Also some grills run hotter. If you see your chicken thighs on the grill are causing too many flare ups, use two zone grilling method. Keep burners on one side and move chicken to the other side and grill over indirect heat.
Hi, I was wondering how else these could be cooked other than the grill. Would they be able to be baked in the oven?
Hi! You may be able to, it has not been tested as such though. You could follow my Ukrainian baked chicken thighs.
Thanks so much!
I make this probably once a month and my family LOVES it!! What’s funny is they hate cilantro but this recipe doesn’t make the chicken taste like it. The mix of flavors is simply delicious. The longer you marinate the chicken the better it gets!
So glad you love the chicken!
We don’t like spicy foods so I was wondering what you would recommend in place of the jalapeños & cilantro?
Hi Jane. You can omit jalapeno but cilantro isn’t spicy and adds a nice flavor. Can also use parsley if you don’t like cilantro. Enjoy!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the wonderful review!
This is the first time where I see a recipe when we’re given even suggestion on what to eat it with… thankful. Great job! I love it! Well done…
Thank you Angel. I am glad you found that helpful.
Amazing! Served with your Mexican kale salad! Big hit!
I’m so happy to read this! Thanks for your positive feedback, Joyce!
Ok I’m such a terrible cook! My paste was not thick like yours – I guess I chopped it too long in my vitamix – hoping it will still taste ok
It doesn’t matter. It is just a marinade. Should be fine!
Hello Olena, made your recipe with chicken breasts and my husband has so far thanked me 5 times! I used banana peppers and extra lime juice, it was delicious…Also made extra sauce for drizzling on cooked chicken. Thank you again for your wonderful recipes.?
You are so welcome Lori! Sounds like this recipe is a winner at your household.
Chicken was delicious.
Very good! I whipped everything up in my vitamix except the pepper because I did not have it. I only had a half hour to marinate but it was still tasty! Next time I will marinate longer. Thank you.
You’re welcome 🙂