In the culinary world, chicken thighs and legs are two of the most versatile ingredients. Whether you’re cooking a decadent chicken dinner or whipping up a quick weeknight meal, the options are endless with these cut from the bird.
To make sure your dishes turn out perfect every time, it’s important to know which parts of the chicken give you the best results.
In this guide, we’ll cover all things thighs and legs: what they are, how to cook them, and when to use them. We’ll also provide tips on how to get your hands on these cuts for less–plus some recipes just in case you need some inspiration!
What’s the Difference?
You might be wondering what the difference is between thighs and legs. Thighs are situated on the chicken’s underside, which means the meat is juicy and flavorful.
This part of the bird tends to have less skin, too–which means that it’s easier to eat because it doesn’t require as much effort to remove the skin before eating.
Legs are located on the top side of a whole chicken. These pieces tend to have more skin than thighs, so they’re perfect for cooking with crispy skin (a la General Tso’s).
When to use thighs
If you’re cooking a dish that requires a lot of browning, like a pan-seared chicken, thighs are the best choice. Thigh meat is full of connective tissue and fat–two things that help with browning. The more time you spend browning your protein, the more flavor and texture it will have. If you want crispy skin and juicy meat, thighs should be your go-to option.
When to use legs over thighs
While thighs are more flavorful, legs are leaner and can be used in everyday dishes. If you’re looking for a healthier option, go with the legs.
But if you’re craving something deep-fried and juicy, thighs should be your go-to because they tend to have more fat. The other important difference between the two is that thighs are typically sold bone-in while legs come bone-less.
Finally, there’s one other factor that makes this debate difficult: the price difference. Thighs are usually cheaper than legs because it requires more work to remove bones from them.
So if cost is an issue for you, but you still want to eat meaty chicken parts, opt for the thigh–you won’t regret it!