Best Grilled Chicken Thighs

Written by Mike Futia | Updated July 26, 2023

Grilled chicken thighs are a summer staple in my house. What I love about this grilled chicken thighs recipe is that it's simple enough to make as a weeknight meal—it's quick, comes together in 15 minutes on the grill, and taste absolutely amazing.  

Grilled chicken thighs are a BBQ classic. Pair them with some grilled veggies or a fresh salad. Choose to eat them as-is, or put them on a sandwich with some mayo and pickles—YUM!

grilled chicken thighs

Helpful Recipe Information

  • Dry brine time: 1-2 hours
  • Grilling time: 8-12 minutes
  • Internal temperature: 165F
  • Chicken thighs: bone-in, skin-on

How To Make Smoked Chicken Thighs

chicken thigh marinade

We're brining these chicken thighs with a dead simple marinade that's my secret ingredient: pickle juice.

The salty, tangy taste of the pickle juice adds an awesome flavor to our chicken. Not only that, the acidity in the pickle juice helps to break down the chicken fibers, helping to make the chicken thighs even more tender.

Then, we're hitting our BBQ chicken thighs with our smoked chicken rub—a combination of sugar, sweet paprika, garlic powder, celery salt, and salt that really adds a sweet and savory bite to the thighs.

Then, we're tossing our thighs on a ripping hot grill (gas or charcoal)—with our GrillGrates attached, of course—and flipping every two minutes until we hit an internal temperature of 165F.

And then you're left with the most tender, most delicious grilled chicken thighs you've ever had!

(Compare them to my smoked chicken thighs to see which one you like better)

chicken thigh sandwich

The Ingredients (serving size: 4 chicken thighs)

  • Chicken thighs (4 thighs). I prefer bone-in and skin-on because they have more flavor.
  • Pickle juice. (1 cup). For the marinade/brine. 
  • BBQ seasoning (2 tbsp). I used my smoked chicken rub recipe, but you can use your favorite chicken rub.

The Directions

raw chicken thighs

1. Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat. 

chicken thigh marinade

2. Place thighs in a resealable plastic bag, and add pickle juice to marinade the thighs for 1-2 hours.

seasoned chicken thighs

3. Remove thighs from plastic bag, and pat dry. Then apply dry rub to both sides liberally. Meanwhile, turn on your grill to high heat.

chicken thighs on grill grates

4. Add a little high-smoke point oil to your grill when it's nice and hot, and place down your chicken thighs. Sear for two minutes then flip. Close the grill lid as they cook.

chicken thighs crispy on grill

5. Continue to sear for two minutes on each side, continuing to flip every two minutes until the chicken hits an internal temperature of 165F. This should take between 8-12 minutes depending on how hot your grill is, and how thick your chicken is.

How Long Does It Take To Make BBQ Chicken Thighs?

grilled chicken thighs temp

These grilled chicken thighs can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes, depending on how hot your grill temperature is, whether you opted for bone-in or boneless thighs, and how thick your chicken is. I prefer to grill thighs over very high heat, so my cooking time may be shorter than yours.

It's a quick, simple recipe for the best grilled chicken thighs you'll make this summer. The thighs come off the grill piping hot, tender, and juicy.

Internal temperature is more important than cooking time. Cook these chicken thighs to an internal temp of 165F.

Creating A Flavorful Marinade For Grilled Chicken Thighs

pickle juice

Feel free to experiment with the marinade. I love pickle juice because of the acidity and saltiness that breaks down the chicken. You could try this trick with other chicken cuts too, like breast or drumsticks.

Of course, you could simply use olive oil as a substitution if you wanted.

As for spices, our smoked chicken rub includes sugar, sweet paprika, garlic powder, celery salt, and salt.

Grilled Chicken Thighs Tips For Success

  • Use a marinade: Always marinate your chicken thighs. It adds and helps tenderize the chicken.
  • High-heat grilling: Unlike with chicken breasts, these chicken thighs can handle high heat because they're so fatty and juicy. Grill them over high heat to get a nice char and crispy skin.
  • Use a meat thermometer: You don't want to overcook your thighs. Always grill with a meat thermometer to ensure your thighs are cooked perfectly every time to an internal temperature of 165F.
  • Rest your chicken: Rest your grilled chicken thighs for at least 5 minutes before cutting into them. This allows the juices to redistribute and settle.
  • Cook with the grill cover closed. Always grill your chicken thighs with the grill cover closed. This will help the thighs cook more evenly, and prevent flareups on the grill.
  • Make a sandwich out of them: One of my favorite ways to enjoy these thighs is on a sandwich. Simply remove the bone, and place the thigh on a toasted Martin's potato roll with some pickles and a little mayo or BBQ sauce. So good!

BBQ Sides Dishes For Grilled Chicken Thighs

smoked baked beans

A flavorful side dish that adds a hearty and savory element to the meal.

smoked mac and cheese

A classic comfort food that pairs nicely with the chicken.

smoked corn on the cob with a pork chop

A summer classic that goes perfectly with chicken.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How Long Does It Take To Grill Chicken Thighs?

It can take anywhere from 8-20 minutes to grill chicken thighs. Variables include: how hot your grill is, how thick the chicken is, and whether you're using bone-in or boneless chicken.

Do You Close The Grill When Cooking Chicken Thighs?

Always close the grill when cooking chicken thighs as it allows the meat to cook more evenly and it prevents flareups. 

 Should I Salt Chicken Thighs Before Grilling

Yes, you should marinade and season (with salt) your chicken thighs before grilling them. This will give them additional BBQ flavor.

grilled chicken thighs

Grilled Chicken Thighs

Learn to make grilled chicken thighs with ease. Our guide includes step-by-step techniques, flavorful marinade ideas, and tips to ensure juicy, tender results.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Marinade Time 2 hours
Course Main Course
Servings 4 pieces
Calories 284 kcal

Ingredients
  

For The Steak

  • 4 chicken thighs skin-on, bone-in
  • 1 cup pickle juice
  • 2 tbsp seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat.
  • Place thighs in a resealable plastic bag, and add pickle juice to marinade the thighs for 1-2 hours.
  • Remove thighs from plastic bag, and pat dry. Then apply dry rub to both sides liberally. Meanwhile, turn on your grill to high heat.
  • Add a little high-smoke point oil to your grill when it's nice and hot, and place down your chicken thighs. Sear for two minutes then flip. Close the grill lid as they cook.
  • Continue to sear for two minutes on each side, continuing to flip every two minutes until the chicken hits an internal temperature of 165F. This should take between 8-12 minutes depending on how hot your grill is, and how thick your chicken is.

Nutrition

Calories: 284kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 19gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 111mgSodium: 976mgPotassium: 325mgFiber: 3gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 214IUVitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 127mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Mike Futia

Hello, I'm Mike Futia, a passionate griller and BBQ enthusiast. I'm the creator of Grill Frenzy, and I'm committed to sharing my knowledge of grilling and smoking with you. I believe that BBQ and grilling should be accessible to everyone. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out, I'm here to guide you on your grilling journey. Welcome!


LEARN MORE ABOUT MIKE


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