How Long Does It Take to Cook Chicken Thighs? (Drumsticks)

Chicken thighs are affordable, flavorful, and most importantly kid-friendly. You can choose to cook thighs in an oven, slow cooker, on the barbecue, or sliced in a stir-fry or curry. Read on to learn how long to boil chicken thighs, including bone-in, boneless or frozen.

What Are Chicken Thighs?

Chicken thighs are a part of the bird's leg, a section just above the knee. This portion of the bird's anatomy is often called the "dark meat" because the meat has extra fat and a deeper hue.

The bird uses the muscle of its legs and thighs more than that of the breast, which can make thigh meat tough. However, because of the extra fat, chicken thigh meat is often tender and supple, not stringy.

How Long Does It Take to Cook Chicken Thighs?

Chicken leg with seasoning

1. Boneless

Boneless chicken thighs are more likely to turn rubbery if they're cooked too quickly, so make sure to keep the heat of the water at a simmer, not a full boil. Boneless chicken thighs take between 15 to 20 minutes to cook at a gentle boil.

2. Bone-in

Bone-in thighs are more economical and also the easiest to keep juicy and flavorful. Bone-in chicken thighs take between 25 to 30 minutes to cook at a gentle boil.

3. Frozen Chicken

If using frozen chicken thighs, they should be separated and cooked in a single layer, not frozen together in a clump.

The USDA recommends increasing the cooking time for frozen chicken by 50 percent. So for bone-in thighs this means around 45 to 55 minutes, and for frozen boneless thighs around 30 to 35 minutes.

How Do You Know When Chicken Thighs Are Cooked?

To test when chicken thighs are cooked we recommend using a meat thermometer. Using a digital thermometer will help you to become a more confident cook and remove any stress of potential food poisoning.

Chicken is cooked when it has an internal temperature of 74C. To probe your chicken thighs you should insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat.

In addition to checking the temperature of chicken, you can look for other indicators of cooked chicken:

Juices run clear: When you cut into the chicken, the juice that comes out should be clear, not pink

Opaque flesh: The meat should be opaque, not translucent or shiny. The flesh of bone-in chicken will sometimes remain pink around the bones, due to pigment in the bone marrow.

Shape: Cooked chicken thighs and breasts plump up. The shape is higher and rounder than uncooked chicken, which is more limp and flat.

Is There Any Way to Get Crispy Skin on Boiled Thighs?

Get crispy skin on cooked chicken thighs

If you like crispy skin, you're better off cooking chicken thighs in the oven or on the grill. If you really want to boil the chicken first, then it works okay to put boiled thighs under an oven broiler. Place the thighs on a baking sheet. Brush oil or butter over the skin. You can also add spices, seasonings, or sauce (like BBQ sauce). Broil the chicken until the skin is crispy, making sure to keep a close eye on the chicken so it doesn't burn.

Factors that Affect How Long Chicken Legs Take to Boil

The time required to boil chicken legs may be shorter or longer due to the following factors.

1. The Color of the Meat

White meat cooks faster than darker meats. The color of the meat depends on fat content and density. If the meat has more fat and if it is denser, it will be darker in color and vice versa.

2. Types of the Cooking Pot

It will be faster to boil chicken legs in a shallow pot with just the right amount of water covering it. If you use a deep pot with too much water, the whole process will take much longer.

3. The Amount of Chicken Legs

It will be faster to cook a small number of chicken legs than a lot of chicken legs.

4. Bone-in or Boneless Chicken Legs

Bone-in chicken legs will take a longer time to boil than boneless chicken legs. This is because it takes longer for the bone to heat up and the meat around it to fully cook.

5. The Size of the Chicken Leg

A bigger chicken leg will take longer to cook than a small chicken leg.

How Long Will Chicken Thighs Last In The Fridge?

Cooked chicken thighs will last in the fridge for 5 days, or can be frozen for 3 months. When time to reheat, thaw and place in a 350F oven for 7-10 minutes. Drizzle a shot of olive oil over the chicken before warming to help keep it moist. If reheating in the microwave, cover the chicken with a wet paper towel and make sure not to overheat, as the chicken will dry out.

Chicken Thighs Nutrition

Chicken thighs, like chicken breasts, are a good source of protein, but because of the darker meat, chicken thighs have more fat and calories than breasts. You can eliminate some fat from chicken thighs by removing the skin before or after cooking the meat.

A 3-ounce serving of boneless, skinless chicken breast has about 140 calories, 26 grams protein, 3 grams fat, and 1 grams saturated fat. The same amount of chicken thigh meat without skin has 152 calories, 21 grams protein, 7 grams fat and 2 grams saturated fat.


It takes about 30 to 45 minutes for chicken legs to fully cook. A chicken leg contains bones and lots of muscles, so you will need to cook it this long for it to be edible. To be sure that the chicken meat is fully cooked, insert a meat thermometer deep into its meatiest part and check if it is already 165 °F (74 °C).