Honey Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs
These Honey Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs are easy enough for a weeknight but full of big flavors. Simple pantry ingredients and fresh orange juice come together to make an irresistible glaze.
Chicken of all kinds is always a crowd pleaser, whether it’s Greek chicken meatballs or sambal chicken skewers. And my orange ginger chicken stir-fry recipe is my go-to when I want something similar to Chinese takeout at home.
But, even at a time of year where the store is sold out of boneless, skinless chicken breasts because of all of those healthy eating resolutions, I’m here to vouch for the humble bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh.
If I’m ever stuck in a rut where I’m not sure what to make for dinner, the combination of bone-in chicken thighs + my grandma’s cast iron skillet can solve the problem.
These Honey Orange Glazed Chicken Thighs are easy enough for a weeknight but full of big flavors.
Why I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken for my honey glazed chicken:
One word: FLAVOR. Look, I know that boneless/skinless breast has the least calories of any kind of chicken. I get it. But it’s usually kind of dry and flavorless, no? I mean, it’s OK in Instant Pot sweet and sour chicken, but not a ton else.
Even if you’re not necessarily going to EAT the chicken skin (I usually do, but you can remove it to save calories if you prefer), cooking chicken with the bone in and the skin on results in a MUCH more flavorful end result for this honey orange chicken.
Almost all of the good chicken-y flavor from chicken comes from the bones and skin (which is why chicken stock is made from the bones).
Leaving the bone in and skin on for this orange glazed chicken recipe also prevents the meat from drying out, resulting in a much juicier piece of chicken at the end.
So, if you’ve shied away from bone-in skin-on chicken in the past, I encourage you to give it a try at least once, for this chicken and orange glaze recipe. It might change your mind about how delicious and flavorful chicken can be.
Brown the chicken for honey orange chicken in batches.
On that note, to get the best browned, most flavorful chicken you can, you want to start with DRY chicken. Throughly pat your chicken dry before you begin this orange glazed chicken recipe.
Then, grab your biggest cast iron skillet (also helpful for Dr. Pepper baked beans and breakfast fried rice) for these orange chicken thighs, if you have one. If not, grab a heavy skillet, preferably stainless steel or something that’s NOT nonstick, if possible.
And the skillet MUST be oven safe, because you’ll be transferring the entire skillet of chicken to the oven once you brown the chicken on the stovetop.
You’ll have to judge whether or not you’ll need to brown the chicken in batches, depending on how large your skillet is. You want there to be some “breathing room” around each piece so that the chicken has space to really brown.
If the pieces are tightly packed into the skillet for the stovetop portion, you’ll end up steaming the chicken, and none of the pieces will get nice and dark golden brown like you want for honey orange chicken.
So, when in doubt, brown the chicken on the stovetop in two separate batches for best results for this chicken with orange glaze recipe.
It’s OK if the chicken pieces are more tightly packed into the skillet for the part of the recipe where the chicken is in the oven, as you can see in my photos of this recipe.
I browned the chicken on the stovetop in two batches (if I had done one batch, it surely would have just steamed) and then packed it all into the skillet together for the oven portion.
Psst – If you’re new to cast iron cooking, be sure to brush up on how to clean and care for cast iron cookware. After that, make a batch of blistered tomatoes or blistered shishito peppers and dipping sauce.
What you’ll need for the orange glaze recipe:
- butter – or olive oil works here.
- garlic – you’ll need two cloves, minced up, for this orange glazed chicken.
- fresh orange juice – buy fresh oranges and juice them for this orange glaze recipe, it’s worth it! Navel oranges are a great choice year around. But if they’re in season, I’ve been known to make this recipe with blood oranges or Cara Cara oranges for a special touch. Buy extra blood oranges for blood orange margaritas! Zest the oranges first and make a orange bundt cake or blackberry muffins.
- honey – maple syrup or agave nectar are good substitutes.
- soy sauce – this adds all kinds of umami to the orange chicken thigh glaze. Feel free to use low-sodium soy sauce if you’d like. Either variety can be used to add an umami boost to homemade gravy.
- red pepper flakes – these add a touch of heat to this honey orange chicken, but you can omit if you can’t do spice.
- fresh mint – for an optional garnish. If you buy it and have extra, try my Greek layer dip or lamb lollipop recipe.
What to serve with orange chicken thighs:
For a vegetable side to go along with this orange glazed chicken, I usually do maple Brussels sprouts or lemon Parmesan broccoli. For a make-ahead cold option, coleslaw with celery seed is always a good idea.
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 large navel orange, halved and sliced
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint, for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat until skillet is very hot. Pat chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Place oil in skillet. In batches if necessary (do not crowd skillet), place chicken skin-side down in skillet; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until skin is dark golden brown. Transfer chicken to plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
- Transfer all chicken back to skillet and arrange orange slices between and around chicken pieces. Transfer skillet to oven and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F.
- Meanwhile, in medium saucepot, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in orange juice, honey, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Increase heat to high and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until mixture has reduced to a syrupy glaze. Remove from heat.
- When chicken is cooked through, remove from oven and brush chicken with glaze. Serve sprinkled with mint, if desired.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 684Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 340mgSodium: 916mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 62g