Here’s the back-pocket chicken thigh recipe you didn’t know you needed! This recipe requires 30 minutes, one pan, and 5 pantry ingredients if you don’t count good old salt & pepper. Make this with chicken thighs, drumsticks, or any cut of bone-in chicken. Tested to perfection!

A plate of half-eaten chicken thighs with silver forks.

Presenting the easiest chicken recipe to date on Tea for Turmeric blog! I almost can’t take the simplicity. Are you ready for this? Here’s how it goes:

  1. Marinate the chicken, because when is marination a bad idea? Marinate for as little as 15 minutes if you can. But if you can’t, you absolutely don’t have to marinate.
  2. Toss all but one of the ingredients (hint – it’s ketchup!) into a pan. Cover & cook.
  3. Add the ketchup. Sauté out excess juices.
  4. It’s done. Even if you don’t want it to be, it’s done.
Bone-in Chicken Thighs in a white Dutch oven

Cooking Chicken on the Stovetop

A bit of background – we grew up calling this “Chicken Roast”.

Ovens weren’t the norm in South Asia. So to recreate tender chicken and a roast-like finish on the stovetop, you would:

  1. Steam the chicken over the gentlest heat.
  2. Uncover and raise the heat to evaporate the excess juices & lightly sear the meat.

With access to ovens, I don’t see much need or benefit of this method. I usually partly steam chicken in the oven anyway (ex. Baked Tandoori Chicken Curry and Peri Peri Chicken).

But in this case, the pan serves to contain and reduce the vinegar. Plus, it allows us to add the ketchup toward the end, creating a layer of flavor.

Closeup of fork picking up a bite of chicken.

Ingredients you’ll need

Here are the ingredients, all of which you probably have in your pantry right now:

Bone-in chicken thighs ingredients.
  • Chicken: As I mentioned earlier, you can use any cut of skinless, bone-in chicken such as thighs, drumsticks or cut up whole chicken pieces (the breast pieces will still remain tender!).
    • I’ve used thighs in the pictures and split leg quarters (drumsticks and thighs) in the video.
    • If you can, try to use small chicken thighs (typically 2-3 oz each). Smaller cuts of chicken cook faster and soak up more flavor.
  • Vinegar: I use distilled white vinegar but I think other types of vinegar could also work here.
  • Oil: Any oil, including olive oil, works in this recipe.
  • Cumin seeds: Plain, untoasted cumin seeds (not powder).
  • Black pepper and crushed red pepper (chili) flakes are the only other spices you’ll need. Feel free to adjust according to your desired heat level.
  • Ketchup: Though ketchup elevates the flavor, you really won’t be able to taste it in the final product.

Flavor profile: The flavors of this chicken are simple yet bold. Vinegar and ketchup give it tangy-sweet, lip-smacking edge and cumin adds an earthy flavor and texture. It’s surprisingly addictive!

Cooked Chicken Thighs ready to eat.

Skin-on vs Skinless Chicken

Let me admit that before I started food blogging, I had no idea how differently chicken is sold in supermarkets vs. halal meat markets (where I get my meat from).

  • At a typical American grocery store, you usually find either boneless, skinless chicken thighs or bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. You can, of course, find whole chicken, bone-in chicken breast, leg quarters, drumsticks, wings, etc. But skinless, cut up, bone-in chicken is not the norm.
  • On the other hand, at Pakistani/Indian halal meat markets, the most readily available cut of chicken is a cut up, skinless, whole chicken. That’s what we use to make most homestyle chicken dishes. The second most popular cut is boneless chicken for curries like Butter Chicken or Chicken Jalfrezi. Of course, you’ll find many other cuts. But whatever the cut, it will likely be skinless.

All this is to say, this recipe requires bone-in, skinless chicken (skin-on would probably get soggy). If that’s not readily available to you, you can remove the skin at home as shown in this helpful YouTube video.

Lifting a piece of chicken with a wooden spoon.

How to make Bone-In Chicken Thighs on the Stovetop

Here are some more details behind the method:

  • Marinate the chicken in all the ingredients. The longer the better. If you’ll only be marinating for a couple of hours, you can marinate right in the pan you’ll be using!
  • Heat the pan up. This is just to help it get hot enough to kick-start the steaming process.
  • Add the chicken and cover to cook.

How Long to Cook Bone-in Chicken Thighs on the Stovetop

With the lid on over a low simmer, bone-in chicken thighs can take anywhere between 20-25 minutes, depending on the size of the thighs. If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature at the thickest point should read 165°F/75°C.

  • Once cooked, the juices will have accumulated in the pan.
  • Raise the heat to sauté out this remaining liquid. How long this takes depends on how much moisture the chicken releases, how wide your pan is, and the level of heat.
Chicken thighs after being cooked.
  • Once there’s little moisture left, add the ketchup and allow it to meld in with the rest of the flavors.
Adding ketchup to chicken after it's cooked.
  • Since there’s no skin to crisp and the chicken is cooked, a light sear will suffice to create deeper color (aka flavor!) without overcooking the meat.
Tossing chicken in ketchup.
  • And that’s it! We’ve garnished with cilantro (not required!) just for prettiness.
Cooked Bone-in Chicken Thighs garnished with cilantro

How to Serve these Bone-in Chicken Thighs

We always ate this chicken with our hands as soon as the platter hit the table. These days, I often serve as a side dish (i.e. a low-effort way to bulk up my dinner party spread 😇).

What to Serve on the Side

As a main dish, this chicken pairs well with just about everything. Some ideas:

Leftover ideas: The leftover possibilities are endless. Shred the chicken and use it in sandwiches, salads, pasta, or anywhere else you’d use rotisserie chicken!

Closeup of fork picking up half-eaten chicken thighs.

Tried this recipe? If you have a minute, please consider leaving a comment & star rating telling me how it was! If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I truly love hearing from you! Thank you!

Bone-in Chicken Thighs Recipe
5 (11 ratings)

Bone-in Chicken Thigh Recipe (Stovetop)

This easy Bone-in Chicken Thigh Recipe requires 30 minutes, one pan, and 5 pantry ingredients if you don't count good old salt & pepper.

Ingredients 

  • 2 lb bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, See Note 1
  • 2 ½ tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or neutral oil, such as grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt, or 1 ¼ tsp fine sea salt or table salt
  • 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes, plus more to taste
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Equipment

  • wide pan or Dutch oven with lid

Instructions 

  • Optional (but optimal) marination: Place the chicken in a medium bowl and toss with everything but the ketchup. Cover the bowl and let it marinate at room temperature for up to 2 hours; or in the refrigerator up to 12 hours. If skipping the marinade, start with the next step.
  • Heat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with lid over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and its juices (if you didn’t marinate, add all of the ingredients except the ketchup to the pan). Mix well to combine, then and spread out the chicken pieces into a single layer.
  • Reduce the heat to low or low-medium to maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Cover the pan and cook, tossing halfway through, until the chicken is fully cooked, about 25 minutes.
  • Increase the heat to high. Bring the remaining liquid in the pan to a boil and cook until most of it has evaporated (~5-6 minutes). Stir in the ketchup. Sauté, stirring only as necessary to allow the chicken to lightly sear (~2 min). Once the moisture has completely evaporated, turn off the heat. Serve immediately.

Video

Notes

Note 1 – You can use any cut of skinless, bone-in chicken such as thighs, drumsticks or cut up whole chicken pieces (the breast pieces will still remain tender!).
  • I’ve used thighs in the pictures and split leg quarters (drumsticks and thighs) in the video.
  • If you can, try to use small chicken thighs (typically 2-3 oz each). Smaller cuts of chicken cook faster and soak up more flavor.
  • See post for notes on skin-on vs skinless chicken.
Calories: 349kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Cholesterol: 159mg, Sodium: 1126mg, Potassium: 582mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 326IU, Vitamin C: 6mg, Calcium: 47mg, Iron: 3mg