Juicy Grilled Chicken Thighs in a Thai-inspired marinade is a favorite grilling recipe. Bold delicious flavors and perfectly grilled chicken every time with some great tips to make you a pro!
Chicken thighs are a perfect meat for grilling.
They have loads of natural flavor, stay moist and juicy when grilled.
Add a bright flavor-packed Thai-style marinade and you will have your favorite grilling recipe for summer.
Paired with a sweet-tangy dipping sauce and this meal is one everyone will be begging you to make over and over!
Bone-in Skin-on Chicken Thighs
- Garlic Cloves
- fresh Ginger root
- Safflower Oil – this oil is used specifically for it’s light flavor and higher smoke point. It’s a great choice for grilled recipe and high temperature skillet recipes too.
- Lemongrass powder – this spice can be found a spice shops and on Amazon (or other online spice providers). It’s a wonderful way to get the signature lemongrass flavor without battling with the woody fresh lemongrass stalks.
- Kosher Salt
- ground Black Pepper
Why Chicken Thighs?
Dark meat has more flavor. It also has more fat than chicken breast which is perfect for grilling as they stay moist and juicy.
Usually chicken thighs are slightly more affordable than chicken breasts too.
Chicken Thigh Sizes
When this recipe was originally developed and published, 8 chicken thighs were 2 1/2-3 pounds.
Recently I’ve noticed the size can range incredibly. The thighs CAN still be around 8 for 3 pounds or they can be almost double the size getting only 4 for the same weight.
The recipe accommodates either size.
We’ve included general cooking times and measuring with an Instant Read thermometer will ensure perfect chicken every time.
How to Prepare Thai-Style Grilled Chicken Thighs – Step-by-Step
Making the Marinade and Marinating the Chicken Thighs
In a gallon size zipper-top plastic bag, combine all the marinade ingredients (photo 1). Stir well to combine (photo 2).
Add the chicken thighs (photo 3), squeeze air out of bag and seal.
Massage the bag to coat the chicken with the marinade (photo 4).
Place in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours up to overnight.
Grilling the Chicken
Preheat grill to HIGH. Brush and oil the grill.
Place the chicken thighs SKIN SIDE DOWN on one half of the grill to sear for 2 minutes (photo below)
Turn the opposite side of the grill off leaving only half the grill on.
Move the chicken thighs to the side of the grill with the BURNERS OFF; flipping them to be skin side up (photo below).
Close the grill and cook until they register 165 degrees F with an instant read thermometer. See the Pro Tips below for general cooking times.
Remove the chicken from the grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
How to Grill Perfect Chicken Thighs – Pro Tips
Use Same Size Chicken Thighs
To ensure all of the chicken cooks in roughly the same amount of time, buy chicken thighs that are all similar in size.
Smaller or larger, doesn’t matter; they should just be the same as each other.
Always Start with a Clean Oiled Grill
Heat the grill then brush thoroughly with a wire grill brush to remove any cooked on food particles.
Fold a paper towel in quarters, pour on some cooking oil. Using long tongs or a grill brush, brush the saturated paper towel onto the grates to full lubricate them.
Now you are ready to grill!
This keeps food from sticking to the grill.
Set Up a Two Zone Grill
The key to success is to sear the chicken thighs over the flame for a few minutes then move them to cook over indirect heat for the duration.
This ensures the meat will seal, the skin crisps beautifully and the meat will be juicy.
This goes for either a charcoal or gas grill.
What is a Two Zone Grill?
This is where half the grill is over flame and the other half has no heat underneath.
Grilling this way allows meat to cook almost like it does in an oven; getting heat from the grill but not over direct flame.
It’s the right way to get juicy, flavorful meat without flare ups or risk of charring.
With a gas grill half of the burners will be on, the other half will be off.
With a charcoal grill a partition can be used in the charcoal area or it can be done manually by moving the coals to one side when they are ready to grill.
Internal Temperature should reach 165 degrees F
The chicken is done when it measures 165 degrees.
Use an instant thermometer and measure in the thickest part of the meat, taking care not to touch the bone.
General grilling times:
Smaller chicken thighs: 25-30 minutes total
Larger chicken thighs: 45-50 minutes total
Let it Rest after Grilling
The chicken will ‘rest’ after being taken off the grill for 10 minutes.
This allows the juices in the meat to redistribute after grilling for a juicy piece of meat.
During that time the temperature will still increase slightly.
What to Serve with It
Two recipes are a must with this chicken:
It doesn’t stop there! Here are some more ideas:
- Instant Pot Coconut Lime Jasmine Rice
- Red Grape Jicama Walnut Salad with Mango-Jalapeno Poppy Seed Dressing
- Champagne Mango-Lime Agua Fresca
Try these Thai-inspired Recipes too!
- Spicy Thai Lemongrass Ginger Margarita
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Mushroom Coconut Soup
- Thai Chicken Meatballs with Dipping Sauce
- Thai-Inspired Coconut Milk Mussels with Ginger, Garlic and Lemongrass
- Grilled Thai Shrimp-Pineapple Skewers
- Pad Thai Salad
- Thai Spicy Green Papaya Salad
Thai Grilled Chicken Thighs
- 12 cloves Garlic peeled and diced or pressed
- 2 large Jalapenos (3-4 inches long), seeded and diced
- 1 4-inch piece fresh Ginger root unpeeled and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup Safflower Oil
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon ground Black Pepper
- 4 teaspoon Lemongrass Powder
- 8 Chicken Thighs (approximately 2 ½-3 pounds), bone in and skin on
- 1 batch Thai-Style Dipping Sauce
In a gallon zipper top plastic bag or large bowl, mix together the garlic, jalapenos, ginger, safflower oil, kosher salt, black pepper and lemongrass powder.
Add chicken thighs, turning to coat fully. Cover (or seal if using a bag) and allow to sit, refrigerated for 2-3 hours (or overnight).
Preheat gas grill to high. When the grill is hot brush it well and run a paper towel quartered with some vegetable oil on it over the grates to oil them. NOTE: I use the grill brush to push the paper towel over the grates.
Place chicken thighs, skin side down on heated grill for two minutes to sear them.
Turn off half of the grill and move thighs to this side, skin side up, for indirect cooking.
Close the grill and cook until the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 165 degrees. The thighs do not need to be flipped during cooking.
For smaller chicken thighs approximately 25-30 minutes, larger thighs can take 45-50 minutes. Juices should run clear and there should be no pink but the flesh will be moist and juicy.
Remove the chicken thighs and allow them to rest 10 minutes before serving.
Using a Charcoal Grill
A charcoal grill can also be used set up with 2-zone grilling. Sear the chicken thighs on the hot side and move them to the side without any coals to finish cooking.
Pro Tips - Chicken Thighs
- Select chicken thighs that are the same size so they will cook in the same amount of time.
- If selecting larger chicken thighs that exceed the estimated weight of 2 1/2-3 pounds there will be enough marinade but they will take longer to cook.
- Measure the internal temperature of the chicken thighs with an Instant Read thermometer. Insert it into the thickest part of the meat, do not touch the bone or allow the thermometer to exit the chicken on the other side when measuring the temperature.
- The chicken thighs should reach 165 degrees F. Then be taken off the grill to rest for 10 minutes.
- The met will no longer be pink and the juices will run clear. The chicken thighs should still be juicy.
- Smaller chicken thighs will take 25-30 minutes. Larger chicken thighs up to 45-50 minutes. Always use the internal temperature to verify doneness.
Recipe Update (2020):
The marinade had been doubled to accommodate larger size chicken thighs.
Originally published: June 2, 2013