No-Oil Crispy Pan Chicken Thighs

Get beautifully browned, extra-crispy chicken skin by slowly frying it in its own fat.
2 servings
Prep Time
05 Mins
Active Time
30 Mins

Instead of using cooking oil, this technique pan-fries chicken thighs in their own fat. Starting with a cold pan (no preheating!) slowly renders out the fat from the chicken skin. As the fat warms up, it cooks the skin to a beautifully browned crisp.

What kind of pan should I use?

Different pans will yield different results. Stainless steel will stick more than a non-stick pan, but will produce lots of the caramelized brown stuff you get at after cooking, also known as fond. Fond will provide a flavorful base for a pan sauce or gravy.

A non-stick pan assures that you get little to no chicken skin sticking to the pan, but will produce less fond.

So if you plan to serve your chicken thighs with a sauce, you'll want to use a stainless steel pan for all that delicious fond.

Help, the chicken skin is sticking to the pan!

These crispy chicken thighs behave like fried fish: it's ready once the crispy skin releases from the pan. This can take a while, so be patient! Regardless of which pan you use, you should be able to (gently) nudge the fried skin free from the pan with a spatula.

What do I serve with chicken thighs?

Properly seasoned chicken thighs can stand on their own, ready to enjoy with rice or pasta.

If you have fond and chicken juices left in the pan, you can turn it into a quick gravy. Deglaze the pan with a liquid, like water or chicken stock, to help scrape up the browned bits. Reduce a bit, add a few pats of butter for richness, then whisk or stir vigorously until you get a glossy, emulsified, chicken-y sauce.

No fond? No problem—we have a cheat gravy recipe here.

No-Oil Crispy Pan Chicken Thighs

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Prepare chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt.


Render chicken fat: Place chicken thighs skin side down on a cold stainless steel or non-stick pan. Heat pan over medium-high heat to render chicken fat. Continue cooking until skin is deep golden brown, about 10–15 minutes in a non-stick pan, 15–20 minutes in a stainless steel pan.


Flip chicken: If your chicken is ready, the crispy skin should release from the pan. Using a fish spatula (silicone if using non-stick), gently coax the crispy skin from the pan, taking care not to tear it, then turn the thighs meat side down. Cook the second side 4–5 minutes more.

To check if chicken is ready, pierce the thigh near the bone—if the juices run clear, you're good to go. If using an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should register 165°F.


Serve: Remove chicken from pan and let rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Substitutions & FAQs

Post Contributors