I have a chicken thigh problem, people. The problem is that I’m the only person in my family that likes them. Does this stop me from making them? Absolutely not. I’ll make a big batch of crispy chicken thighs and pretty much horde them. I have no problem with that.
In the spring or summer, I’ll turn to my hoisin chicken thighs which are slowly cooked over a low-heat grill.
In the winter though, you have to bust out the cast iron skillet if you want good chicken thighs. The good news about this kimchi chicken thigh recipe is that it seriously only has three ingredients (I don’t count salt).
Kimchi. Butter. Chicken thighs.
Of course, there are a few little tricks to maximizing the flavor and chicken thigh deliciousness. I’ll show you the way though!
Kimchi Chicken Thighs
- 7-8 chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on
- 1 cup kimchi, loosely packed
- 6 tablespoons butter, soft
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- In a small food processor, pulse kimchi until it’s in a coarse paste. Add butter and pulse until it’s mostly smooth.
- Working with chicken thighs, separate skin and rub about a tablespoon of the kimchi butter between the chicken and the skin.
- Add chicken thighs skin-side down to a COLD cast iron skillet over medium-low heat. Season chicken thighs with a pinch of salt. Let cook for about 15-20 minutes until fat is rendering out and skin is getting browned. Don’t mess with them while they cook!
- When skin is getting browned, flip chicken thighs so the skin is up. Move the skillet to a preheated oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes until chicken thighs are cooked through (185 degrees F. in a thick part).
- Remove skillet, add a dollop of kimchi butter to the top of each thigh. Return to oven for 5 minutes.
- Serve chicken thighs while warm.
Did you make this recipe?
Kimchi Chicken Thighs
If you’ve never had it, kimchi is a spicy fermented cabbage. It’s typically served with Korean food, but I’ll eat it any chance I get. These days you can actually find it in a lot of grocery stores so don’t feel like you need to go somewhere special for it. It needs to be refrigerated so it’ll frequently be in the cold deli section of your store.
Kimchi has kind of a funky flavor/smell to it, but it’s really addictive once you try it. If you like stuff like sauerkraut, you’ll love it. But, it does need some fat to even out the flavors a bit.
Enter my good friend, butter. If you pulse kimchi in a food processor until it’s in a rough paste and then add in a few big chunks of softened butter, magic happens.
The result is this delicious thing called kimchi butter. This makes the chicken thighs possible.
As an aside, you can refrigerate this stuff and scoop it onto grilled steaks for a serious flavor boost.
Cooking the Chicken Thighs
Before you cook the chicken thighs, separate the skin from each thigh and smear on some of the butter. This will melt under the skin and slowly season the chicken as it cooks.
Cooking chicken thighs in a skillet requires one thing: time.
Do not rush this process or you’ll end up with soggy chicken thighs that are too fatty.
Start the thighs in a COLD skillet, skin-side down, over medium-low heat. Season them with salt (and a little pepper if you want).
As you can see, you can really cram them in the skillet because they will shrink as they cook.
Let these slowly cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes. Don’t fuss with them during this time. The fat will render out of the thighs and the skin will start to crisp up.
After 15 minutes, you can check one and see how it’s going. If they are getting browned, time to flip them!
Now into a preheated oven to finish cooking. Roast them at 425 F. until they are cooked through. They should hit 185 degrees F. in a thick part. It’ll take another 20 minutes or so.
It’s pretty hard to overcook chicken thighs because they have so much fat so don’t worry about it too much if you go over that number.
When the thighs are cooked and crispy, take them out and and a big smear of kimchi butter to each thigh.
Then back in the oven for another 5 minutes so the butter can melt a bit.
Serve these kimchi chicken thighs while they are nice and warm.
Asian comfort food at its best!
Raise your hand if you’re a chicken thigh fan!! ✋✋