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How to Debone Chicken Thighs (with video!) 

Knowing how to easily debone chicken thighs is a fantastic kitchen skill to have. The first time you try to debone chicken it can seem a little daunting, so below I’ve given step-by-step instructions as well as a video from two angles to show my simple method.

I think we’ve all been there at least once. The recipe calls for boneless chicken thighs, but you’re standing in front of the chiller at the grocery store and they only have bone-in thighs. What to do? (No, the answer is not to give up and order pizza).

There’s no need to panic, even though deboning chicken can seem a little scary at first, it is super simple when you know the right technique.

Chicken Thighs in a bowl

Why buy bone-in chicken

I always buy chicken with the bone in. It’s great value and much more flexible than chicken thighs or chicken thigh cutlets that have already been prepared for you.

  • Bone in chicken is cheaper, even if you include the weight of the bones (chickens are birds, after all, the bones aren’t very heavy). This is an easy way to shave a few pennies off your weekly shop. If you’re really keen, a whole chicken is even cheaper! Let me know in the comments below if you want a video on cutting up a whole chicken.
  • Boneless chicken almost always means skinless too, and sometimes we want that deliciously crispy skin!
  • Trimming and preparing chicken at home by hand can be done with a lot more care than bulk-factory trimmed chicken. You can check to make sure there are no bone fragments of bone or cartilage and trim the skin to your liking.
Chicken Thighs on a board

Essential equipment

  • To debone chicken thighs you will need a good quality, sharp kitchen knife. I prefer to use a larger chef-style knife for deboning chicken, as it means I can use the weight of the knife to easily cut through the flesh. You can use a paring knife or a sharp boning knife if you have one. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, but it must be sharp.
  • A sturdy chopping board. Always place a damp cloth or paper towel underneath your chopping board to stop it from slipping.

How to debone chicken thighs

Follow these easy steps and you’ll have bone-free chicken in no time. Ensure that you have a very sharp knife as a dull knife can slip and cause injury.

  1. The first step is to trim the chicken thighs of any excess skin.
  2. Next, locate the thigh bone. There will be a seam of white tissue running nearly the entire length of the bone. Use the tip of your knife to cut down both sides of the bone and a little around the end of the bone.
  3. With one hand securing the thigh, hold the knife flat and with the blade away from yourself. Place the edge of the knife at the side of the bone and cut underneath the bottom of the bone, turning the thigh if necessary to loosen the bone from both sides.
  4. Next, fold the thigh in half and cut the large knuckle of bone away from the flesh.
  5. Lastly, check the thigh for any remaining bone or cartilage or excess fat and trim away. If you need skinless chicken thighs, the easiest way to remove the skin is to simply pull the chicken skin away from the flesh and trim it as necessary.

What can I do with leftover chicken bones?

Don’t discard the bones! There is always a tiny bit of remaining flesh on the chicken bones and it is a shame to waste it. They are great for adding to chicken stock or soup to add a little extra body (or as a special treat for the cat).

A finished deboned chicken thigh

Handling raw chicken

It’s important to follow good kitchen hygiene when handling any raw meat.

  • Ensure that your hands, work surface and chopping board are clean. Many people prefer to use a plastic chopping board that they can put in the dishwasher afterwards.
  • After you have finished working with the chicken, give all surfaces a good scrub down with hot, soapy water.
  • Washing chicken is now discouraged as it can cause contamination of the sink and washing area. If you do wash the chicken, be sure to dry it well with a paper towel before you cut the bones out, and give your sink a good scrub down with hot soapy water.
  • It is generally not recommended to use antibacterial spray on food preparation surfaces.
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I use kitchen shears to debone chicken thighs?

If you are absolutely desperate you could use scissors or poultry shears in a pinch. The trouble is that this is fiddly work and you’re going to lose a lot of chicken flesh in the process.

Better to use a sharp kitchen knife instead. Poultry shears are mainly used for separating the larger pieces of a chicken, not removing bones.

What to cook with chicken thighs?

Because the dark meat of chicken thighs has a higher fat content than breast meat, they are great for slow-braised dishes, chicken soup, pies and stews.

Try my Turkish Chickpea and Chicken Pilaf for a deliciously comforting meal. Having a dinner party? You can’t go wrong with sweet and sticky Chicken Marbella. Still looking for more chicken recipes? Click here!

COOKING CHICKEN THIGHS

Chicken thighs are one of the most forgiving cuts of meat to cook in the oven. Even if they have been overcooked, chicken thighs are likely to stay tender and juicy, so it is a great meat for beginner cooks.

HOW LONG TO COOK CHICKEN THIGHS AT 350°F / 180°C?

Chicken thighs will cook at this temperature in around 40-45 minutes, but will be more tender at 60 minutes. Bone-in chicken thighs may take a little longer if they are very large. Smaller, boneless thighs will cook a few minutes faster.

As stated above, chicken thigh meat is very forgiving so it is likely to stay moist and juicy even if a little overcooked. A higher internal temperature can actually make chicken thighs more tender as the connective tissue begins to break down into gelatine as the meat cooks!

HOW TO TELL IF CHICKEN THIGHS ARE COOKED?

A lot of people are worried about raw chicken, but it is really very simple. If you insert the tip of a sharp knife into the chicken thigh at the thickest part, any juices should run clear. If you cook to the times given in this recipe you won’t have a problem at all.

If you are at all uncertain, I recommend using an instant-read thermometer. Chicken is cooked at an internal temperature of 74°C / 165°F, however, with chicken thighs on the bone they will still be a bit tough. Bone in chicken meat is best cooked hotter, anywhere between 80° and 90°C (175-195°F) for the most tender results.

Remember, if it is at all possible, let meat on the bone warm up towards room temperature before cooking. This means that it will cook more evenly and you won’t have to worry that it is underdone toward the bone.

A picture of Deboning Chicken thighs

How to Debone Chicken Thighs (with video!)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Estimated Cost: $0

Knowing how to easily debone chicken thighs is a fantastic kitchen skill to have. The first time you try to debone chicken it can seem a little daunting, so below I’ve given step-by-step instructions as well as a video from two angles to show my simple method.

Tools

  • a sharp kitchen knife
  • a sturdy chopping board

Instructions

  1. The first step is to trim the chicken thighs of any excess skin.cut skin away from chicken thigh
  2. Next, locate the thigh bone. There will be a seam of white tissue running nearly the entire length of the bone. Use the tip of your knife to cut down both sides of the bone and a little around the end of the bone.A picture of cutting down both sides of chicken thigh bone
  3. With one hand securing the thigh, hold the knife flat and with the blade away from yourself. Place the edge of the knife at the side of the bone and cut underneath the bottom of the bone, turning the thigh if necessary to loosen the bone from both sides.A picture of cutting underneath the chicken thigh bone
  4. Next, fold the thigh in half and cut the large knuckle of bone away from the flesh.A picture of the chicken bone removed from the thigh
  5. Lastly, check the thigh for any remaining bone or cartilage or excess fat and trim away. If you need skinless chicken thighs, the easiest way to remove the skin is to simply pull the chicken skin away from the flesh and trim it as necessary.Checking for chicken cartilage

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Jay Wadams
Jay Wadams

Jay Wadams is a cookbook author and food photographer. Jay is the author of two cookbooks: 'Tasty' (2017) and 'Simply Summer' (2019). Based in Italy 🇮🇹 Germany 🇩🇪 and Australia 🇦🇺.

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