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Chicken Thigh Cutlets - Cooking Tips & Recipes

Chicken thigh cutlets are tastier than chicken breast. Practical tips for cooking chicken thigh cutlets and delicious recipe ideas for affordable family meals. 

Chicken thigh cutlet

The Kiwi love affair with chicken shows no sign of changing as it continues to outsell all other proteins here in New Zealand.

One of our favourite cuts is the chicken thigh, which sits at the top part of the chicken leg, where it connects to the body at one end and the chicken drumstick at the other. When the drumstick is removed from the leg, the thigh is the cut that's left.


What is a chicken thigh cutlet?

Chicken thigh cutlets and chicken thighs are the same cut of meat with one key difference. The cutlet has the bone in and the thigh doesn't. The boneless cut is slightly more expensive as more butchery work is involved.

- Chicken thighs

Thighs can be bought with the skin and bone removed making them easy to slice or chop into stir fries and curries.

- Chicken thigh cutlets

Chicken high cutlets are generally skinless and still have the bone in. They are a perfect choice for casseroles and slow cooked recipes where the bone literally falls away from the meat during cooking.


Which is healthier - chicken breast or chicken thighs?


Chicken is the healthiest choice of all meats and is a great source of lean protein. The debate regarding which chicken cut is best has gone on for many years. Some people prefer chicken breast and others think chicken thighs are better.

Chicken breasts are healthier

Chicken breasts are low in fat and high in protein making them a great choice for those on a low fat diet, as long as you remove the skin before cooking and don't cook in fat. They are a good source of phosphorus needed for healthy bones and teeth and Vitamin B3 which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue.

Chicken thigh cutlets contain twice the amount of fat and saturated fat and 25% less protein per 100 grams than chicken breasts. They don't require cooking with fat, so this can help even out the final fat content, as can removing the skin before cooking. They are a good source of iron, which prevents anaemia and zinc, which is great for healthy skin and nails.

Chicken thigh cutlets are tastier


Chicken breasts are boneless, made of tender white breast meat and have a consistent meaty texture which takes less time to cook. If overcooked chicken breast can be unforgiving, turning dry and stringy. Adding a marinade before cooking, or cooking in a sauce, can help make the white breast meat more tender, add lots of flavour and help retain its natural juiciness.

Chicken thigh cutlets contain brown meat and are generally cooked slowly with the bone in. Both factors help to create a tastier, more tender chicken, full of juiciness and flavour. Some people dislike the extra effort required to cut the meat away from the bone, but the bone is very easy to remove before cooking.


Buying and storing chicken thigh cutlets

Fresh chicken thigh cutlets can be purchased from your local PAK'nSAVE store. Displayed in a fridge in the meat section, free range thighs and organic free range chicken thigh cutlet are also available.

Buy chicken thigh cutlets just before you plan to cook them, then refrigerate when you get home and ideally cook within one to two days.

If you're not planning to cook them right away, freeze them when you get home and defrost fully before you cook.


Preparing cutlets

Chicken thigh cutlets contain a single bone. If you prefer, this bone can be removed by your butcher, or it's very quick and easy to debone them at home. Once removed, these bones can be popped in the freezer to use later in a stock.


Tips for cooking chicken thigh cutlets


Chicken thigh cutlets are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and can be cooked with or without the bone in. Boneless chicken thigh cutlets will take less time to cook so recipe times should be adjusted to reflect this. Always check the internal temperature of the chicken which should be at least 72 degrees celsius and the juices should run clear.

There are so many different ways to cook your chicken thigh cutlets, from Indian chicken tikka masala to Japanese teriyaki chicken. You could serve a different recipe every day of the month and still enjoy delicious chicken. Here's a list of the most popular cooking methods:

Baking and oven roasting chicken thighs

The simplest method is to pat the flesh dry, season with salt and pepper and place on a baking tray into a hot oven. Bake bone-in chicken thigh cutlets for 40 minutes until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 72 degrees Celsius.

Grilled chicken thighs

Marinade the boneless thighs first. Heat the grill to high and grill for 6 minutes on each side until cooked through. These are great when served with fresh pasta or rice.

Pan frying chicken thighs

Boneless and skinless chicken thigh cutlets can be pan fried really quickly, on high heat for 6 minutes on each side. This will turn them a beautiful golden brown colour and they will be so tasty and juicy.

Deep frying chicken thighs

Begin by placing the chicken into a buttermilk marinade for at least 4 hours. This will keep the chicken moist. Tap to remove excess marinade, then dip each piece into a bowl of flour seasoned with salt and pepper and sweet paprika. Place 2 or 3 thighs at a time, into the deep fryer at 180 degrees Celsius and cook until golden brown. Remove and place on a baking sheet. Once they're all ready pop the baking tray into a hot oven until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 72 degrees C. These are absolutely delicious served with sweetcorn and tangy coleslaw.

Stir fry chicken thighs

Remove the cutlet's bone then chop the meat into bite sized pieces and fry rapidly with vegetables in a wok or deep sided frying pan. Add sweet chilli sauce and salt to season, then serve with rice.

Air frying chicken thighs

Air frying is a clean, simple method of cooking which is growing in popularity. Begin by heating your air fryer, spray thighs with vegetable oil, then coat in a seasoning mix of sweet paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Place the cutlets into your air fryer and cook for 25-30 minutes until the juices run clear.

Slow cooking chicken thigh cutlets

You can't beat the convenience of a casserole or stew and chicken thigh cutlets are the perfect choice for this cooking method. Cooking low and slow, in a tasty sauce, allows the chicken to absorb more flavour and the meat to fall off the bone. Think of classic chicken casserole recipes - French coq-au-vin and Italian chicken cacciatore. Both are humble peasant dishes full of delicious flavours. They make a perfect family weekday dinner and are delicious simple recipes to cook when you're entertaining.