Made in one pan so that both sides of the bacon get crispy, this smoky bacon wrapped chicken thigh recipe pleases everyone!
Why This Recipe Works
This bacon-wrapped chicken thigh recipe is the best because unlike other recipes that use a baking sheet, this one gets the bacon crispy on the bottom and the top. This one simple step makes all the difference with no extra effort!
Plus, this crucial step not only crisps the bacon but helps sear the bacon to the chicken so it doesn't fall off.
Plus, by using dark meat instead of white meat, you get a more tender protein that will have everyone coming back for more!
- To get the smoky flavor, don't skip the smoked paprika in the rub. If you don't have any on hand, you can substitute for standard paprika, but the smokiness will be less.
- Choose bacon that is hardwood smoked, like applewood or hickory. This lends itself to the flavor a lot.
- For this recipe, I used thick-cut bacon because that is what I had on hand and it gives a stronger smoky flavor. However, the standard cut of bacon gives a better bacon-to-chicken ratio. No matter the choice, both turn crispy under the broiler.
- Use boneless skinless chicken thighs. The fat coming from the bacon prevents the skin from crisping, leaving this unappetizing.
Want it smokier? Add an optional drop of liquid smoke into the rub. I think this can overpower the flavor of the cooked bacon, but it gives an authentic smoke flavor to the smoked bacon wrapped chicken thighs.
How To Make This Recipe
Preheat the oven to 400°F and add in the pan at the beginning to get it hot as well. This gets the bacon gets crispier on the bottom of the chicken thighs. The high heat immediately cooks the bacon before all of the fat releases, keeping the bottom from being soggy.
While the pan preheats, mix together the rub ingredients and use your hands to coat all of the chicken thighs with it. It may clump together a bit, but that's not a problem.
Next wrap the chicken in the bacon. Don't worry too much about making it stick to the chicken because it will do that naturally as it cooks and crisps.
The important thing is that one end of the piece of bacon is on the bottom. The preheated cast iron skillet will help sear the bacon to the chicken thighs, but only if the edge is there. And since no flipping is required for the chicken, this makes it easy.
A small chicken thigh only needs one slice of bacon. Large ones might require two.
To add a second slice of bacon, tuck the end of the second piece under one end under the end of the first before continuing to wrap around. Try to get this double-layered bacon piece on the bottom for that same searing. It helps the bacon hold to the chicken thighs.
Next, sprinkle the top of the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs with the brown sugar, transfer them to the preheated pan and bake for 30 minutes. (The internal temperature of chicken thighs should be 165°F)
Finally, remove the chicken from the oven and turn on the broiler. Move the oven rack to the upper third of the oven and broil the chicken for 1-3 minutes. This gets the bacon crispy and caramelizes the brown sugar.
- If you use fresh garlic from a garlic press the rub mixture for seasoning the chicken will be thicker and damp. More like a paste. This isn't a problem because the bacon fat will dampen and loosen it so it covers the whole thigh anyway. Don't stress about getting every inch covered.
- Add the salt and pepper into the small bowl with the rub mixture. This makes sure it doesn't get forgotten. And let's be honest, it wouldn't work as well sprinkled over already salty bacon.
- Utilize the broiler in your oven to make the crispy bacon even crispier. While the chicken bakes, the bacon will as well, but the extra moisture from the chicken keeps it from happening as quickly as normal. Cooking under the broiler for 1-2 minutes helps this.
- The broiler also helps caramelize the brown sugar for extra flavor. Be careful not to cook too long though or it will burn the sugar.
- This leaves a significant amount of bacon fat behind in the pan. Make sure you dispose of the grease properly.
If you find white, shiny, fibrous strands attached to the chicken strands these are tendons. While completely edible, when cooked these can become chewy and tough like gristle. You can remove them with a quick swipe of your knife if desired.
The easiest way to determine if the chicken thighs are done is with a thermometer. The chicken should read 165 degrees in the thickest part.
Since the chicken is wrapped in the bacon it is harder to judge based on appearance or texture. If you don't have a thermometer on hand, you can give it a few extra minutes if you are nervous. The bacon fat helps keep it from drying out.
Thighs are harder to overcook than chicken breasts because the fat on the meat helps keep it moist. To prevent overcooking, use a meat thermometer and stop cooking the meat between 160°-165°F in the thickest part. Finally, let it rest so it can reabsorb moisture before serving.
For some great side dishes to serve with bacon-wrapped chicken thighs, I recommend:
Slightly Sweet Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs
- 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 5 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 12 ounces thick cut bacon
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the cast iron skillet in the oven to heat with it and heat for 30 minutes.
- Combine the paprika, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and parsley in a bowl. Coat the chicken in it and wrap the bacon around the thighs. You will need 1-2 slices per thigh depending on the size.
- Remove the cast iron from the pan and place each of the bacon wrapped chicken thighs into the pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and place back in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees
- Heat the broiler and place the pan as close to it as possible. Cook for an extra 1-2 minutes or until the brown sugar and bacon and crisped.