8 Easy Ways To Make Budget-Friendly Chicken Thighs

Get out of your same old chicken thigh recipe rut by making one of these easy dishes.

Whether you prefer them bone-in or boneless, skin-on or skinless, chicken thighs are versatile, easy to cook, and less expensive than chicken breasts — and they don't dry out when you cook them the way chicken breasts can. Nicole McLaughlin, aka NicoleMcmom, shows you eight ways to make budget-friendly chicken thighs that are anything but boring.

1. Slow cooker

While this recipe for Slow Cooker Chicken Tinga originally calls for chicken breasts, Nicole likes to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead. Serve it up on crispy tostada shells and top with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.

slow cooker chicken tinga on tostada shell topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and cilantro

2. Grill

Grilled chicken thighs are so easy to make but can flare up over the flames as the skin cooks. To prevent this, Nicole prefers to remove the skin from bone-in chicken thighs before marinating and grilling. Try this recipe for Rusty Chicken Thighs.

grilled rusty chicken thighs recipe served with corn and tomato cucumber salad

3. Sheet pan

This whole recipe for Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies with Mustard Vinaigrette can be prepped in minutes and has minimal cleanup afterward. Nicole uses Brussels sprouts, onions, and sweet potatoes for her recipe, but you can use whatever vegetable combination you like.

sheet pan chicken and veggies with mustard vinaigrette recipe served with Brussels sprouts, onions, and sweet potatoes

4. Instant Pot

Instant Pot Indian Chicken Curry is another instance where you can use chicken thighs instead of chicken breast to prevent the meat from drying out as it cooks — something that can easily happen in the Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Indian chicken curry recipe served over rice with naan bread

5. Baked

Nicole removes the skin from bone-in chicken thighs to make this recipe for Baked Teriyaki Chicken with an easy homemade teriyaki sauce. After the chicken is cooked, she removes the chicken from the baking dish and tosses in some lightly cooked vegetables to coat with the sauce for an easy side dish.

baked teriyaki chicken recipe garnished with sliced scallions

6. Stir-Fry

It takes just a few inexpensive boneless, skinless chicken thighs and some fresh vegetables to make a hearty meal to feed a family. Try this recipe for Chicken Stir-Fry using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and substituting your choice of vegetables.

chicken stir fry with vegetables served over rice

7. One-pot meal

Need an economic meal for a big family? Try this easy comfort food recipe for One-Pot Crispy Chicken and Rice.

One-Pot Crispy Chicken and Rice

8. Deep-fry

Boneless chicken thighs make the perfect serving size for a sandwich, and one of our favorites is this recipe for Nashville Hot Chicken and Waffle Sandwich.

fried chicken and waffle sandwich topped with coleslaw

You can connect with Nicole as NicoleMcmom on Allrecipes and on Instagram @nicolemcmom.

More tips, tricks, and ideas from Nicole:

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