No matter what time of year, grilled boneless chicken thighs are a perfect option for an easy and healthy weeknight dinner. This recipe is frugal, flavorful, and the chicken thighs are perfectly juicy. Make the simple, marinated chicken for a quick dinner or easy meal prep.
What Readers Say
“We love this chicken recipe. The chicken is so tender and tasty. We have this chicken one a week for it is so delicious.”
What You’ll Love About This Recipe
Dustin, my husband, says this is the best chicken! And he’s quite the picky chicken person. But aside from his rave reviews, here’s what makes this recipe a family favorite…
- Frugal: One of the best ways to eat quality protein on a budget is to buy cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken thighs are cheaper than boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And they’re far more flavorful and easier to cook.
- Simple Ingredients: This recipe is made with the simplest of pantry ingredients from the homemade marinade to the chicken thighs.
- Flavorful: Chicken thighs are a flavorful cut of meat due to the higher fat content and darker meat. To enhance the flavor, I marinate the thighs in a few simple ingredients: olive oil, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, fresh garlic, salt, and pepper. This leaves the chicken with a fresh and vibrant flavor!
- Quick Cook Time: Without bones or skin, the thighs cook up in less than 15 minutes! While the chicken is grilling, roast some veggies (I love frozen roasted vegetables), Instant Pot rice, Instant Pot mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or a simple green salad. A quick and easy dinner in under 30 minutes.
- Meal Prep: Prepping protein for the week is one of my favorite ways to simplify healthy eating! With grilled chicken thighs in the fridge, I can easily use the meat to make sandwiches, salads, wraps, homemade enchiladas, or a quick Instant Pot chicken noodle soup. Grill the chicken on the weekend and store in the fridge for up to 4-5 days.
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2 – 2.5 pounds)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (or avocado oil)
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice or lime juice
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon fine salt (I use Redmond Real Salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Tools Needed: 1 container or gallon-size bag to marinate the chicken thighs, a gas grill or charcoal grill (or indoor grill), and a pair of tongs (or a spatula for flipping the chicken on the grill).
- Use Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: I use this same marinade for grilling boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Make the marinade, add around 2 lbs of chicken breasts and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day in advance. Grill the breasts for 8-10 minutes on each side.
- Use Your Favorite Italian Dressing or Vinaigrette Dressing: If you have an oil-based salad dressing in the fridge, use it! I love to use homemade vinaigrette dressing as an alternative to the olive oil and lemon juice marinade. You’ll need about 1/3-1/2 cup of dressing to marinate about 2 -2.5 pounds of chicken thighs.
- Use an Indoor Grill Pan: If you live up north and want to make this recipe year-round, use an indoor grill pan instead of an outdoor grill. The key is to get the grill pan HOT before grilling the thighs. Cook on both sides over medium-high heat, ideally with a lid on the grill pan.
How to Grill Boneless Chicken Thighs: Step by Step
Below, I break down how to make this easy recipe and you’ll find a printable version of the recipe and instructions in the printable recipe card (at the end of this article).
Step 1: Make The Chicken Marinade
In a large bowl or gallon-size bag (I like to use a deep container, as pictured) add all the marinade ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients with a fork or seal the bag and swish the ingredients in the bag.
Customize the Marinade: Customize the flavor of the marinade by adding 1-2 teaspoons of dried spices: oregano, rosemary, Italian seasoning, herbs de provence (a French spice blend that includes lavender), or smoked paprika. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or more to taste).
Step 2: Marinate The Chicken
Place the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the marinade. Toss the marinade and chicken together.
- If you’re using a bowl, the easy way to do this is with your hands (then wash your hands with soap and water afterwards). Use your hands to toss the chicken in the marinade.
- If you’re using a bag, the best way to do this is to seal the bag, then rub the outside of the bag with your hands to move the chicken around in the marinade.
Let the chicken rest in the marinade (in the fridge) for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day before grilling. The marinade tenderizes the chicken and makes it so flavorful!
Trim the Fat: Before adding the thighs to the marinade, trim any excess fat from the meat. Use a knife or kitchen scissors to cut the extra fat off the thighs. You don’t need to trim all the fat; just the largest pieces.
Step 3: Heat The Grill to 400F
Remove the thighs from the marinade, holding each thigh over the container or Ziploc bag for just a few seconds to let any excess marinade drip off the chicken. This will minimize any large flames from flying up as you add the marinated chicken to the grill.
Place the chicken thighs on the preheated grill so each piece lays flat on the grill.
It doesn’t matter which side you start with since there isn’t any skin on the thighs. If you’re using thighs with skin, place the skin side down first.
I use my hands to do this, but the safest way to add the chicken is with tongs.
Step 4: Cook The Chicken For 12-14 Minutes
Cook the chicken thighs on one side for about 6-8 minutes, with the grill lid closed, then flip and cook for another 6-8 minutes (again with the grill lid closed).
The best way to tell if the chicken thighs are fully cooked is to place a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. The thermometer will read 165F when the chicken is ready. Or, just cut the largest piece of chicken in half to ensure the meat is no longer pink (the less technical way to do this).
Do you need to oil the grill grates before grilling chicken? You don’t need to oil the grill grates before cooking the chicken. The marinade (made with oil) keeps the meat from sticking to the grates as it cooks.
Step 5: Rest For 5 Minutes
Allow the cooked thighs to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving. This locks in the juices and keeps the chicken deliciously moist!
- With Potatoes: One of my favorite meals is grilled chicken with a baked sweet potato (the best and quickest sweet potatoes you’ll ever make) or Instant Pot mashed potatoes and a simple side salad.
- With Rice and a Vegetable: Serve the chicken with Instant Pot rice and a roasted vegetable (like broccoli, green beans and carrots, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts). Such an easy dinner!
- With a Cold Pasta Salad: During the summer, grilled chicken is perfectly paired with Zesty Italian Pasta Salad. Other favorite cold salads to serve with this recipe: cucumber lime salad and marinated chickpea salad.
- In a Warm Pita: One of my favorite meals is chicken gyros. Place pita bread on the grill for a few minutes, then add sliced grilled chicken thighs, feta cheese, chopped cherry tomatoes, hummus, sliced red onions, and olives.
- Over a Big Salad: Place chicken thighs (sliced) over a big salad (like this romaine and kale caesar) and top with homemade ranch dressing or vinaigrette dressing. Add homemade croutons for extra crunch.
- Chicken Salad: Chop cooked, room temperature thighs and combine with mayo to make a delicious chicken salad. Add the salad to a tortilla or bread, or enjoy with crackers. A great way to use extra chicken thighs for lunch!
- Leftover Chicken Noodle Soup: Cut leftover chicken thighs into smaller pieces and use the meat to make an easy Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner another night.
- Leftover Chicken Enchiladas: Shred leftover chicken and use the meat to make simple chicken enchiladas for an easy dinner.
- Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Peppers: Use cooked chicken (or leftovers) to make these easy stuffed peppers with rice and buffalo sauce.
Pro Cooking Tips
Do you need to marinate chicken thighs before grilling?
You don’t have to marinate chicken thighs before grilling. But for the best, most flavorful and juiciest thighs, I recommend doing so! You can also rub the thighs with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and garlic powder and grill for 6 minutes on each side, without marinating.
How long should you marinate chicken thighs before grilling?
For the best flavor, marinate the thighs for at least 30 minutes. Even a 30 minute, quick marinate will add wonderful flavor and tenderness. The longer the chicken marinates, the more flavor it will take on. The chicken can rest in the marinade for up to 1 day.
After this, the acid in the marinade will begin to break down the meat. If the chicken has been sitting in the fridge for hours or a full day, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it rest at room temperature (still in the marinade) for about 10-15 minutes before grilling.
What’s the best grill temperature for chicken thighs?
I’ve found that 400-450F is the best grill temperature for thighs. This is the “sweet spot” where you get beautiful grill marks and a great char/grilled flavor, but don’t end up with burnt chicken.
How do you grill boneless chicken thighs without burning them?
Keep the temperature lower, at about 400F. Also, using skinless chicken thighs, along with trimming excess fat from the thighs, keeps the flames down. High flames and a high heat = burnt chicken.
How to Store
Store leftover cooked chicken an airtight container, in the fridge, for up to 4-5 days. Store sliced or in whole form.
Reheat in the microwave for a few seconds or in a skillet on the stove-top with butter or oil. Or, serve the chicken at room temperature.
Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (and Easy Marinade)
- deep container or gallon-size Ziploc bag for marinating the chicken
- tongs or spatula for flipping the chicken
- 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (between 2-2.5 lbs total)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice or lime juice
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon salt (fine salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- In a large bowl or gallon-size bag (I like to use a deep container, as pictured) add all the marinade ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, and black pepper. Whisk the ingredients with a fork or close the bag and swish the ingredients in the bag.
- Place the boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the marinade. Toss the marinade and chicken together.
- Let the chicken rest in the marinade (in the fridge) for at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day before grilling.
- Heat the grill to 400F. Remove the thighs from the marinade, holding each thigh over the container or Ziploc bag for just a few seconds to let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, and place the thighs on the preheated grill.
- Quickly and safely place the chicken on the grill grates, so each piece lays flat on the grill. If you're using boneless thighs with skin, place the skin side down first. (I prefer to start with this side even when using skinless).
- Cook the chicken thighs on one side for about 6-8 minutes, with the grill lid closed. Then flip (it should lift easily from the grill grates) and cook for another 6-8 minutes (again with the grill lid closed). I find that 12 minutes of total cook time is usually perfect!
- Remove the chicken from the grill and allow the cooked thighs to rest for about 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
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Side Dish Serving Ideas
Serve this recipe with one of my favorite side dishes…
- Zesty Italian Pasta Salad
- Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese
- Salad with Homemade Vinaigrette Dressing
- Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing
- Frozen Roasted Vegetables
- Roasted Carrots and Green Beans
- Greek Yogurt Coleslaw
- Best & Easiest Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Quick Fried Rice
- Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes
- Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad
We love this chicken recipe.
I’m so glad you like it!
This is my husband’s favorite meal! Let me know what you think and how you serve this easy dish.
We love this chicken recipe. The chicken is so tender and tasty. We have this chicken one a week for it is so delicious. Tonight my husband said I really like this chicken. He says that every time I make it. Thank you Kristin.