grilled chicken thighs

How to grill the best Asian crispy-skinned chicken thighs

There are days – usually on lazy summer weekends – when nothing hits the spot like grilled Asian-style chicken. The thighs are ideal: They turn out plump and juicy, super-flavorful, with incredible, nicely charred crispy skin. 

Toss together a marinade in the morning – fish sauce, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lime, cilantro stems, scallions and such (you get the picture!)  –  and let them loll about, soaking up flavor, till you're ready to grill. So many Asian marinade recipes include sugar or honey, but I prefer one that's not sweet, and this one (I have to say!) is pretty great. 

Thighs are fabulous for grilling, first because dark meat takes so well to smoky flavor, and it doesn't dry out easily. And second because their fairly uniform shape makes it easy to cook them evenly. 

Still, a little care (and time) is required so they don't char to blackness while they're still raw inside. I use bone-in thighs because feel like the bone adds depth of flavor, but you can use boneless ones if you prefer. 

The trick is building a good, hot charcoal fire (I use an old-fashioned Weber grill) and moving the coals to one side. That's where you'll sear them till they're nicely charred but not burned, about 5 minutes on each side. Then move them to the less-hot side of the grill, cover the grill and let them cook till they're just done – about 20 minutes or so. Have an instant-read thermometer on hand in case you're not sure – they should be 165 degrees when tested at the thickest part.  

Got it? Here's the recipe:


Let 'em rest about five minutes, then get ready for crispy-skinned happiness.