Grilled Chicken Thighs recipe with Honey Sesame Glaze is savory-sweet, juicy and utterly delicious with just minutes of hands-on prep!
These Grilled Chicken Thighs are finger lickin’ good and one of my husband’s all-time favorites! They’re a little sweet, a little sticky, a little spicy, a little tangy and a whole lot of YUM! The sensational honey sesame glaze is made with pantry friendly ingredients of honey, soy sauce, ketchup, sesame oil and rice wine punctuated by zesty ginger, garlic and chili sauce. Best of all, the glaze doubles as the marinade for effortlessly flavorful chicken in minutes without double the work! Come dinner time, just pop the chicken on the grill (oven and skillet instructions included) and serve with your favorite sides like coconut rice, grilled vegetables and fruit salad.
We love grilled chicken! Grilling chicken makes dinnertime a breeze with hardly any cleanup! Some of our favorite grilled chicken recipes include: Greek chicken, cilantro chicken, chili lime chicken, Hawaiian chicken ,buffalo chicken and now you can add these grilled chicken thighs to the list!
HOW TO MAKE grilled chicken thighs VIDEo
Grilled Chicken Thigh Marinade ingredients
The marinade ingredient list may look lengthy, but you are just whisking the sauce ingredients together which takes minutes. Let’s take a closer look at what you’ll need (full measurements in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post):
How to Grill Chicken Thighs
The important elements to really juicy grilled chicken thighs is a fabulous marinade, trimmed fat, a hot grill and a meat thermometer. Here’s an overview of how to make them (full printable recipe in at the bottom of the post)
Step 1: Make the Marinade
- Whisk together all of the grilled chicken thigh marinade/glaze ingredients together in a large freezer bag or shallow dish (whatever you are going to marinate the chicken in).
- Remove ¼ cup of the marinade to use later as the glaze. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Step 2: Marinate the Chicken
- Add the boneless chicken thighs to the remaining ¾ of the marinade in the bag/bowl and turn to coat. Seal and refrigerate for 2 hours, or up to overnight.
- When you’re ready to grill the chicken thighs, remove them from the fridge and let rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Step 3: Grill the Chicken Thighs
- Grease and preheat the grill to medium high heat, 375°F.
- Grill chicken, covered, for 5-7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked through and an internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F.
- Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
How to Cook chicken thighs in the oven or stove
You may also bake or cook the chicken on the stovetop, although we love the added smoky char and easy cleanup of the grill!
FAQs About Marinating Chicken thighs
Chicken thighs are best if the marinade is allowed to work its magic for at least 4-6 hours. However, the chicken can be refrigerated in the marinade for as long as 24 hours!
Yep! You can marinate the chicken for up to 24 hours, but don’t push it too much longer than that otherwise the acid in the marinade can break down the muscle fibers too much and make your chicken mushy.
No, you should NOT poke holes in the chicken before marinating. This actually drains out the valuable juices and will result in less juicy marinated chicken thighs. You can cut slits in thick pieces of chicken like chicken legs to reach deeper into the protein, but never poke holes.
I prefer food-safe sealable plastic bags such as freezer Ziploc bags. They really allow the marinade to envelop the chicken vs. a dish in which the marinade might not cover all of it. When using a plastic bag, make sure to squeeze out excess air before sealing then roll up the bag so the chicken is nice and snug. Sealable bags are also great for easy cleanup – just toss them!
You may also use food grade plastic, stainless steel, or glass containers and cover with plastic wrap if they don’t have a lid. If you marinate the boneless chicken thighs in a shallow dish, make sure to flip the chicken over occasionally so it marinates evenly.
Always marinate chicken for a prolonged period of time covered in the refrigerator and not at room temperature to avoid food-born illness. Only remove the chicken thighs from the fridge to the counter 30 minutes before you’re ready to grill to help bring it to room temperature so it cooks more evenly.
Yes! If you can’t get to cooking your marinating grilled chicken thighs within 12 hours, just pop it in the freezer – another perk of using sealable plastic bags. When it’s time to cook, just thaw and cook immediately. You don’t want the chicken to marinate again or it can become mushy.
How to Serve Grilled Chicken Thighs
The grilled chicken thigh marinade is slightly salty and sweet, making it incredibly versatile. Use leftover grilled chicken in any of the following dishes:
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Grilled Chicken Thighs with Honey Sesame Glaze
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- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
Honey Sesame Marinade/Glaze
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (like vegetable or canola)
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon Asian sweet chili sauce (I use Mae Ploy)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine
- 1 teaspoons Asian chili sauce (like Sambal Oelek)
- 1 tsp EACH garlic powder, ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp EACH onion powder, paprika
- Whisk all of the marinade/glaze ingredients together in a large freezer bag or shallow dish (whatever you are going to marinate the chicken in). Remove ¼ cup to use later as the Glaze. Add the chicken thighs to the remaining marinade in the bag/bowl and turn to coat. Seal/cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, up to overnight.
- When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the fridge and let rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
- Preheat the grill to 375 degrees F with the lid closed. Clean, and generously grease the grill with vegetable oil.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Add the chicken thighs so they aren’t touching.
- The chicken will char more due to the honey so I recommend using an indoor grill pan. Grease an indoor grill pan and heat to medium-high heat. If using a nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over MEDIUM heat.
- Working in batches, remove chicken from the marinade and let excess drip off. Add chicken and cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes, or until nicely browned on one side.
- Flip chicken over, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook approximately 3-5 more minutes (depending on thickness of chicken), or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F for thighs, 160 F for breasts. Transfer chicken to a plate/cutting board. Brush chicken with reserved Glaze (that never touched the raw chicken) and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
- Aromatics: I use ground instead of fresh because I find them more pleasing in the glaze portion – but you may use fresh if you prefer.
- Use a meat thermometer: Always use a meat thermometer (my fav!) so you don’t undercook or overcook your chicken. A meat thermometer means perfectly grilled tender, juicy chicken thighs ever time.
- Prep ahead: The marinade can be refrigerated WITHOUT the chicken for up to 2 days ahead of time. You can also trim the chicken 48 hours ahead of time.
- Serving suggestions: See post for tasty side serving suggestions and fun ways to serve the chicken.
How to Store and Reheat
- Storage: Store cooked chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
- Freeze chicken in marinade: Add the chicken to the marinade in a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out excess air and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to use, the chicken will marinate as you thaw the chicken in the refrigerator.
- Freeze cooked chicken thighs: Let the grilled chicken cool completely then transfer it to an airtight container or plastic freezer bag and squeeze out any excess air. If you want access to individual pieces of chicken without having to thaw all of the chicken, wrap each chicken thigh in plastic wrap before adding it to the freezer bag. Freeze for 2 to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
- To reheat in the microwave: Chop or slice the chicken so it reheats more evenly; heat for 30 seconds, then at 15-second intervals as needed.
- To reheat in the oven: Transfer chicken to an oven-proof dish. Cover with foil and reheat at 350 degrees F for 8-10 minutes or just until warmed through.
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