Cooking chicken in a cast iron skillet produces a wonderfully crisp, savory, salty exterior with a tender, juicy interior that can't be matched. Ready in under 30 minutes and using only three ingredients, this Cast Iron Chicken will be your new favorite easy dinner!
There are a few things that I enjoy most done properly and simply: a seared steak. Fresh corn served with butter. A salad dressed with good olive oil.
These chicken thighs fall into that category. They need nothing more than simple seasoning and correct preparation for a spectacularly delicious result.
Chicken thighs are a favorite for so many reasons: they are relatively inexpensive, more flavorful than other cuts of white meat, and are very hard to get wrong.
Plus, with a target temperature range that offers about twenty degrees of leeway, you don't need to stress over the cooking like you might with other proteins.
What You'll Need
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- Chicken Thighs I usually buy a 2 to 2.5-pound package, which is about 4 to 6 chicken thighs. You can buy more or less depending on the number of people you're serving. Work in batches if cooking more.
- Grapeseed Oil If you can't find grapeseed oil, try vegetable oil or another oil with a high smoke point, like avocado oil. I would not use olive oil.
- Kosher Salt I always recommend kosher salt when cooking. It coats food more evenly, and is less concentrated than table or sea salt, making it harder to oversalt your food.
How to Make Cast Iron Chicken
Step One Pat your chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season generously on all sides with kosher salt.
Step Two Pour your oil in the cast iron pan.
Step Three Place your chicken in the pan, skin-side down. Place the pan on high for about 5 minutes. You will hear and smell the chicken beginning to cook.
Step Four At the 5-minute mark, turn the heat down to medium. Cook on medium for about 12 minutes, until the chicken skin is golden brown, moving occasionally and checking to ensure the chicken is not getting too dark. Flip.
Step Five Cook on the second side for another 8 minutes, or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of between 175 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve right away for the crispiest skin!
Oven Instead of cooking the chicken entirely on the stovetop, you can move it to the oven after the initial 17 minutes.
Dried Herbs Try adding a pinch of dried thyme, Italian seasoning, black pepper, or Herbs de Provence.
Spicy You can add some cayenne or chili powder for a little bit of spice.
When cooking chicken in cast iron, ensure your pan is properly seasoned. Use high heat and an oil with a high smoke point (grapeseed, avocado, vegetable). Let your chicken tell you when it's ready to flip - don't force it when the skin hasn't released from the pan.
Here is a great resource on seasoning a cast iron pan.
I don't recommend it. You can freeze raw chicken thighs, but freezing cooked chicken thighs will ruin the texture of the skin.
I don't recommend making this in advance as the best part is the crispy chicken skin. The skin will not hold its texture once it has cooled.
Absolutely! Chicken prepared in this way has literally 0 grams of carbohydrates.
See the "How to Make a Meal" section below for ideas!
- Salt generously with kosher salt. This is what will give you that wonderfully crispy chicken skin. If you salt appropriately, you won't need any other seasoning.
- Stove temperatures can vary, so be sure to check your chicken skin a few times during the initial 17 minutes cook time to ensure it is not getting too dark. If it is looking dark, feel free to flip and/or turn down the temperature.
- Use a splatter guard! After years of bacon grease and oil burns, I got a splatter guard and no longer feel the wrath of hot oil. Plus it makes cleanup easier!
- The best way to tell if your chicken is ready to flip is the color of the skin and whether it has released from the pan. If the chicken is holding on to the cast iron, it is not ready to flip. If it's easy to move and golden brown like below, it is ready.
How to Store
Cast Iron Skillet Chicken really is best right out of the pan - the elusive crispy skin will only stay crispy for a short while.
However, you can store this in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container. When reheating, I sometimes remove the skin as it can become rubbery.
You can heat in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes, or until heated through, or toss it in the microwave for a few minutes if you are short on time.
I don't recommend freezing cooked chicken thighs. You can freeze raw chicken thighs until ready to use, though.
How to Make a Meal
This cast iron chicken recipe will be the star of any plate. Below are some suggestions for flavorful sides to round out your dinner table:
Roasted Vegetables This would be delicious with a variety of roasted vegetables, like this Roasted Tenderstem Broccoli or these Roasted Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine. A few bundles of Turkey Bacon Wrapped Asparagus would also be amazing.
Sheet Pan Meal This chicken would be wonderful added to this Sheet Pan Sausage and Veggies recipe for a filling dinner!
Salad Pair with your favorite salad. Because the chicken is so simply seasoned, any type of salad will be a wonderful side. Try this Lemon Herb Vinaigrette, this Honey Jalapeño Lime Vinaigrette, or this Spicy Ranch! It's also amazing with Bavarian Potato Salad.
Recipes You'll Love
Try these other flavorful chicken dishes:
Cast Iron Chicken
- Pat your chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Season generously on all sides with kosher salt.
- Pour your oil in the base of the cast iron pan.
- Place your chicken in the pan, skin-side down. Cover with splatter guard. Place the pan on high for about 5 minutes.
- At the 5-minute mark, turn the heat down to medium. Cook on medium for about 12 minutes, until the chicken skin is golden brown, moving occasionally and checking to ensure the chicken is not getting too dark. Flip.
- Cook on the second side for another 8 minutes, or until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of between 175 to 195 degrees Fahrenheit. Serve right away for the crispiest skin!
- 2 ¼ pounds chicken will be between 4 to 6 chicken thighs. Purchase enough for 1 to 2 chicken thighs per person, depending on their appetite.
- Be sure to use the recommended splatter guard to avoid hot oil injuries.
- To ensure your chicken doesn't stick to the cast iron, properly season your pan and let your chicken tell you when it's ready to flip - don't force it when the skin hasn't released from the pan.
- Stove temperatures can vary, so be sure to check your chicken skin a few times during the initial 17 minutes of cook time to ensure it is not getting too dark. If it is looking dark, feel free to flip and/or turn down the temperature.
- You can store this in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container. When reheating, I sometimes remove the skin because it can become rubbery.
- I do not recommend freezing.
- To reheat, place in 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 15 minutes, or put in the microwave for a few minutes if short on time.