Sticky Soy Chicken Thighs combines sweet, salty, spicy, and tang for a very welcome different kind of flavor. Perfect for a weeknight dinner any time of year when you want to change it up.
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This is one of those recipes that I’ve been making for so long that I forget how it even came about. When I started cooking on my own in 2012, I hardly ventured out of the recipes I grew up with or could throw together with the same 5 ingredients. It was college cooking at its finest – not very good or very healthy, but lots of fun. But so it goes, you get bit by curiosity and you never look back. At least that’s how it's been for me. This recipe came about in 2014 when I started cooking cleaner meals that didn’t rely on processed ingredients and oil as its main source of flavor.
Learning how to make things from scratch has been a major reason why I cook at home so much. It has lead to confidence in the kitchen, cheaper food bills, and all the practice has really made me a better cook. In turn, cooking at home helped me lose over 20 pounds and keep it off all, which was my goal all along.
And when I say “make things from scratch” I’m not talking about making your own mayonnaise here. Although you certainly could. But learning to make simple things like pan sauces for dinner can be a lifesaver for flavor. And long story short is that this is what this Sticky Soy Chicken Thigh recipe uses. Your sauce ends up starting with what gets cooked off from the meat, which helps you use fewer ingredients like extra fats and salt to make things taste good.
This has stayed as a go-to recipe over the years because of how much it stands out from the everyday, ordinary flavors. You get the tang from soy sauce, sweetness from brown sugar, kick from red pepper flakes, and delicious salty flavor that cooked off of the meat. The scallion on top is always my favorite because it contrasts it all with freshness. like a cherry on top.
It’s easy to come together and an easy recipe to remember. I love to throw it in the rotation when we need a change. Although I always measure ingredients, this recipe is flexible and you can season and taste as you go. I used to exclusively make this with boneless pork chops, but recently started serving it over chicken thighs and I think I enjoy it even more like that! The best sides for this are something that uses the sauce kind of like gravy. I love having it with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower.
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Sticky Soy Chicken Thighs
- Olive oil drizzle
- 1 lb chicken thighs
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ¾ cup beef broth
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- Thinly sliced scallions & sesame seeds for topping
Pat chicken thighs dry on both sides with a paper towel and season to taste with ground pepper.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high and add just a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, fill the pan with chicken thighs. The skillet should be hot enough that the chicken will sear.
Cook each side for 2 minutes and then set aside on a plate covered with foil. Repeat with any remaining chicken.
Shut the heat off to the skillet to cool off. Add in the minced garlic and when fragrant, add in the broth and soy sauce. Once the heat has cooled and come back to a low simmer, turn the heat back on low.
Add in red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add the chicken back in, cover the skillet, and cook for another 8-10 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the chicken while it's cooking and flip halfway through.
Remove the chicken from the pan and plate. To the sauce, gradually whisk in the cornstarch, working through any clumps. If the sauce thickens too much, add in the tbsp of water to thin out.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken, top with scallion and sesame seeds. Rice, mashed potatoes, or mashed cauliflower on the side go really well with this sauce!