Crispy Chicken Thighs Over Melted Zucchini


Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs start out in a skillet over medium heat so the fat slowly renders as the skin crisps up.

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
50 mins

As a cook, it takes a certain kind of confidence to keep things simple. When I was a food editor reviewing recipes submitted by staff or freelancers, I noticed that less-experienced cooks often had a hard time showing restraint. Ingredient lists were long, with superfluous touches that distracted from what should have been the star on the plate. As with so many things in life, the keep it simple principle is a good one to go by. Special-occasion dishes might require more flourishes, but for weeknight cooking that makes you and your family happy, pucker up. That mantra is at play here in this one-pan chicken thigh recipe. The only seasonings are salt, pepper, and thyme — no kitchen-sink spice rubs or all-the-condiments dumps. And you know what? It’s delicious. That’s because it’s all about the chicken. And not one bit of the fat goes to waste; sweet onions and zucchini cook in it, soaking up all that good chicken-y flavor as they melt to an irresistibly silky texture.

I’ll typically bring the skillet out to the table for everyone to serve themselves, and we’ll spoon the vegetables over brown rice or quinoa. Or I might set out some crusty bread to swipe through the drippings. For best results, seek out air-chilled chicken. Air chilling (as opposed to submerging chickens in water during processing) means flavors aren’t diluted, and the skin isn’t waterlogged — which translates to crispier results, the kind of chicken skin you dream about. (Or is it just me?) I use this technique as a template, swapping out veggies based on what’s in season. I always start the chicken as described here, then proceed with the onion, garlic, and thyme. But in place of zucchini (salted and drained to remove excess liquid), I might toss in torn kale, fresh corn kernels, cherry tomatoes, or — one of my fall favorites — red grapes. My kids adore every incarnation, and I attribute that to the buttery-soft texture of the onions. Well, and some chicken fat doesn’t hurt. Not one bit.


  • 8 cups loosely packed zucchini ribbons (from about 1 1/2 pounds zucchini)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 4 (8-ounce) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

  • 1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion (about 13 ounces), vertically sliced

  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus more for garnish

  • 4 cups cooked quinoa


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine zucchini and 1 teaspoon salt in a colander; let stand until ready to use.

  2. Combine pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt; sprinkle evenly over both sides of chicken thighs. Heat a 10-inch ovenproof skillet or sauté pan over medium. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan, skin side down. Cook until skin is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Flip chicken thighs; cook 6 minutes. Remove chicken from pan (chicken will not be fully cooked).

  3. Add onion, garlic, and thyme to drippings in pan. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally and scraping any browned bits from bottom of pan, until onion is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

  4. Drain zucchini on several layers of paper towels; squeeze gently to remove excess moisture. Add zucchini to onion mixture in pan; toss with tongs to combine. Nestle chicken into zucchini mixture. Place pan in preheated oven; cook until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of chicken registers 165°F, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve chicken and zucchini over quinoa; garnish with thyme, if desired.

    Crispy Chicken Thighs over Melted Zucchini
    Victor Protasio
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