Balsamic Chicken Thighs

$4.17 recipe / $1.04 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.71 from 44 votes
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Chicken thighs are a favorite of mine because they’re inexpensive, easy to prepare, tender, juicy, and quite versatile. So I was really excited when they went on sale last week. I’m always looking for new ways to season them up or infuse flavor (see Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs, Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs, and Soy Dijon Chicken Thighs), but decided to go with something very simple and delicious this time around. So I mixed up a very basic marinade with balsamic vinegar, garlic, a little freshly ground pepper, soy sauce for salt and depth, and a touch of brown sugar to balance the acids. The sweet and tangy marinade absorbed right into the tender meat and gave these Balsamic Chicken Thighs more flavor than a girl could ask for.

I served these tasty Balsamic Chicken Thighs with some Skillet Potatoes and Green Beans, but they’d also be great with some rice or pasta to soak up all the delicious juices (just spoon it from the baking dish over top of your plate). Or, just make sure have some crusty bread on hand for sopping.

I love baking chicken thighs in the oven because it’s easy and hassle free, but this recipe would also work quite well on the grill. The little bit of brown sugar in the marinade will caramelize on the outside of the chicken for a deep, caramel-y flavor. Oooh, I’m so happy it’s outdoor grilling weather again! I <3 spring!

Top view of a dish of Balsamic Chicken Thighs sitting on a blue place mat

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Balsamic Chicken Thighs

4.71 from 44 votes
These easy Balsamic Chicken Thighs are a tasty and juicy answer to "what's for dinner?" Prepare the marinade in the morning and bake when you get home.
Servings 4
Prep 15 mins
Cook 45 mins
Total 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar ($0.80)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar ($0.04)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce ($0.10)
  • Freshly cracked black pepper ($0.10)
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs ($2.40)
  • Fresh parsley for garnish (optional) ($0.25)

Instructions 

  • Mince the garlic and combine it in a bowl with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (about 20 cranks of a pepper mill). Place the chicken thighs in a shallow dish or heavy duty zip top bag and pour the marinade over top. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 1 to 8 hours. (You can do this before you leave for work in the morning.)
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the chicken and marinade into a baking dish. Place the chicken in the oven and bake for 45 minutes. Use a spoon or baster to bathe the chicken with the juices from the bottom of the dish once or twice during baking.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven after 45 minutes and sprinkle a handful of freshly chopped parsley over top.

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Notes

This marinade would be enough to flavor six boneless, skinless chicken thighs, if needed.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 431.1kcalCarbohydrates: 10.35gProtein: 61.78gFat: 13.93gSodium: 409.13mgFiber: 0.13g
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Balsamic Chicken Thighs

Plate of a Balsamic Chicken Thigh with potatoes and green beans on the side

Top view of a dish of Balsamic Chicken Thighs siting on a blue place mat

Step by Step Photos

Balsamic Marinade in small bowl with fork

To make this super simple marinade, just mince two cloves of garlic, then combine them in a bowl with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, and a healthy dose of freshly cracked pepper (I use this McCormick grinder). While fancy balsamic vinegars ARE usually better tasting, I just used a basic, widely available brand (this one) and it tasted quite good. I’ll save my good stuff for sprinkling over salads or dipping some nice bread in.

Chicken and marinade in a Tupperware container to marinate

Place four (or six) boneless, skinless chicken thighs in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over top. You can also do this in a heavy duty zip top bag (probably a gallon size), but I was out of those. Refrigerate the meat and marinade for one to eight hours so it can soak up all that goodness. I don’t bother trimming the fat off the meat because a lot of it melts off the chicken as it bakes (plus, I like the flavor), but you can before adding the marinade, if you prefer.

Marinated chicken thighs in casserole dish ready to bake

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the meat and all the marinade into a baking dish (you can spritz it with non-stick spray to help cleaning later, if you wish). Bake the chicken for 45 minutes, using a spoon or baster to bathe the meat with the juices once or twice during cooking.

Parsley sprinkled over top of chicken thighs

Sprinkle the Balsamic Chicken Thighs with a handful of chopped fresh parsley for garnish (or fresh basil if you have it growing in your garden!) and serve. NOM.

Dish of Balsamic Chicken Thighs with one thigh dished onto a plate with a side of potatoes and green beans

What a pretty springtime meal! I just need some bread to get all those yummy juices from the Balsamic Chicken Thighs into mah mouth!

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  1. I made this as a weekend dinner . I did mine at 360 degrees. Made a side of rice and steamed broccoli to go with. Definitely keeping this recipie. 

  2. I’m making this tonight and will leave a review but I just wanted to point out that Sams club has boneless skinless thighs for $1.68 a pound! That makes this recipe cost less 😊😊

  3. I hit a big hime run with this receipe….so yummy. My husband and I both love it. I intend to make it for family on their next visit.
    I followed receipe to the tee and it was perfect..easy to prepare and I always have ingredients on hand…a great go to dinnet. Thanks so much.

  4. Had this for dinner this weekend, and my husband said he “didn’t want it to end” because it was so good! I’m always looking for easy, cheap recipes, and I love finding ones that are so tasty! Prepared according to the recipe with 6 thighs (they were small), and it was perfect. Served with roasted veggies and a bit of white rice. This is definitely going into our regular dinner rotation!

  5. This recipe is an essential part of our meal planning! We make it almost once a week and we LOVE it. It turns out amazing everytime. It looks and tastes like an intensive recipe but it is so easy to make. Sometimes I roast potatoes and carrots underneath the chicken- delicious. I tweaked this a bit to work better for our household. I double the marinade for every 4 thighs (except for the oil) and use bone in thighs. I cook them covered for 45 minutes, flip, then cook covered for 30 more minutes. Then I take the lid off for the last 15 to get the top skin crunchy. It comes out so tender the meat practically falls off the bone. This recipe is excellent! Thanks!

    1. Thank you for sharing your technique for adapting this recipe to bone-in thighs! I’ve made it quite a few times, at this point, and really appreciate the instructions. (Using large chicken quarters also works, but they sometimes need a longer baking time, of course.) Thank you also for the tip to put some root vegetables underneath the chicken — they make such an easy and delicious side dish!

    1. It will turn out quite different in a slow cooker because there is no evaporation or caramelization action. It will probably end up very soupy.

  6. I made this for the first time earlier this year and I’ve made it quite a few more times since then. My husband LOVES it and it’s one of his favorite dishes I make, and it never seems to get old. We usually have rice for a side and we spoon the juices over the rice for extra flavor! Thank you for posting this. I’ve come back to making this frequently!! It’s DELICIOUS!!

    1. This is one my husband’s favorite dishes I make. Always scarfs it down. I’ve made this countless times and it NEVER fails!!! I always have rice as my side for this because the cooked marinade that I spoon over it is so complementary and delicious. Thank you for this!!

      1. Funny, I forgot I even left a review about this before… I guess I love the recipe that much I accidentally left a second review, hahaha.

  7. I’ve made this marinade several times to use on bone-in chicken thighs &
    b/s chicken breasts. For the breasts, I bake at 350 deg. F, covering with foil for the first 30 mins. & uncovering & flipping for last 15 mins. For those complaining about the forwardness of the balsamic or about the whole recipe, you can’t just blindly follow a savory recipe, but have to taste & tweek it to YOUR liking. I make the marinade in a separate bowl so that I CAN taste & tweek. When it’s to my liking, I lightly salt & pepper the chicken, pour the marinade over the chicken, cover, refrigerate & marinate for hours or even overnight. I sometimes add white wine, as well. You can even use this for beef & add some beef broth & red wine to make it heartier, or make it Asian by using half balsamic & half seasoned rice wine vinegar, ginger & a bit of sesame oil!

  8. This recipe is a hit in my house! I’m a 20-something college student on a budget, so I always try to find cheap but delicious recipes that I can cook at home after a long day of classes. I’ve made this for my other college roommates multiple times and we NEVER have leftovers! The only tweak I’ve made to the recipe is that I use bone-in thighs since they’re cheaper at the grocery store than the boneless-skinless thighs. Other than that, everything is the same!

  9. I question the 45 minutes cook time for boneless thighs.  Even cutting that time in half over cooked the meat and the thighs were very  dry. However, the saucr was very flavorful.  Not sure if I will make again.  

  10. Made this and it was delish!  I substituted the brown sugar with Truvia, to cut down the calories and carbs since I’m trying to loose weight.  It worked perfect and no one knew the difference..  I want to try grilling the chicken next time.  

  11. Wow!! This recipe was excellent and so easy to make !! I have been looking for more recipes to “bake” as it is not only healthier but also quicker & this was just perfect. The brown sugar gave the chicken a nice brownish color. I did not have parsley to garnish but I chopped up carrots and it soaked up all the juice from the marinade. It was almost like a side dish! I wish you had the option to add pictures so I could share with you how delicious it looked! 

  12. Made this yesterday and loved it. The leftovers were even better today after sitting overnight in the marinade. I’ve already sent this recipe to 3 people.