How to Debone Chicken Thighs

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Dear Home Ec 101,
I’ve heard that you can substitute chicken thighs in some recipes that call for boneless skinless chicken breasts, but I am not sure what to do. How do you remove the bones?
Boneheaded in Bonneville
Heather says:
It would be embarrassing for me to admit how long I sat here trying to think of a title that wouldn’t bring the perverts out of the woodwork. I’ve given up and decided to just say, I don’t think we’re offering what you have in mind, carry on, but thanks for the page view.
I am placing a page break for the benefit of some of our more sensitive viewers who probably don’t want to stare at raw chicken. Heck, I don’t want to stare at raw chicken. The tutorial follows the break.

Boning / deboning chicken thighs is relatively easy and a reasonable trade off with regard to frugality. With practice it becomes a fairly quick process. The cost difference per pound can be staggering between chicken breasts and thighs. I’m happy if I can find BSCB chicken breasts around $4 a pound, but I was thrilled when I scored these chicken thighs for well under a dollar a pound. With deals like that they are much cheaper per pound of edible meat, excluding bones and skin. Additionally many people prefer the moistness and flavor of the dark meat.

Ready to get to work?

First of all, never wear jewelry while working with raw meat, bad Heather, bad. (It was thoroughly scrubbed after I realized my oversight.) Use a sharp knife to cut the membrane that attaches the skin to the muscle and peel the skin off of the thigh.

Trim off any excess fat. 

Make a deep cut as close to the bone as possible, but be careful not to slice all the way through the thigh.

Slice the knife behind the bone and again cut as close as possible. After this point one end should be free.

Grasp the free end and continue cutting the muscle away from the bone. 

Always check the meat for gristle or bone fragments.

Cut it away and you are done. Boneless skinless thighs can be used in any recipe calling for boneless skinless chicken breasts, feel free to experiment.

Don’t forget to thoroughly sanitize your work area.


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6 thoughts on “How to Debone Chicken Thighs”

  1. Only one question- I thought dark meat takes longer than white to cook? IF so, might wanna take that into account when subbing thighs for breast…

    Wow, parts of that post could sound all wrong in different circumstances!

  2. Great post.

    I have been boning chicken thighs for years – as you said, I prefer the taste of the dark meat to the taste of breastmeat.

    Yes they can take a little longer to cook in some instances, but they taste far better. And in something like a chicken curry they are actually better than breastmeat.

    Don’t toss the bones out – bag them up and stash them in your freezer. When you have enough, you can use them to make chicken stock.

  3. This meat takes no longer to cook, really, just a minute or two. Thigh meat is juicier than breast meat and so is good in stir fries. Last time I did this, I forgot to save the bones for making stock; sometimes I freeze the bones until I have enough for stock.

  4. HM – It varies, if you are doing a straight sub of one chicken thigh to one chicken breast (fresh, not the flash frozen in a multipack variety) it works out to be the same as the thighs are generally smaller, but pound for pound it may take a couple minutes longer. Until used to the substitution I suggest using a meat thermometer.
    Lotte – Great suggestion, I’m going to edit it into the post, thank you.
    Carole – I keep a gallon ziplock in the freezer for this purpose. 🙂


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