For More Tender Tacos, Use Chicken Thighs

If you are coming up on another Taco Tuesday and tire of the same ground beef options, then take your handheld delights to another level by using chicken thighs. When cooked just right, chicken thighs have a beautifully rich flavor that is perfect for being the centerpiece of your favorite chicken taco recipe. However, if you are a long-time chicken breast eater, you might hesitate to switch to thigh meat. Hear us out: We've got a few reasons that might help you consider making the change.

Chicken's mild flavor is excellent for bringing out the spices and fresh ingredients in tacos. Because chicken thighs have a higher fat content, this fat can render out while pan cooking, meaning you don't have to introduce other oily elements to your dish that could bog down the taste. Instead, its natural flavors seep out and mix beautifully with the other ingredients to create a more cohesive dish. This also helps to avoid making common mistakes when cooking chicken thighs

For the best-tasting cuts, you want to buy fresh — not frozen — pieces and stick to the bone-in and skin-on variety, as they offer more taste. Also, don't skip on the seasoning, and keep your cooking to a balanced low and slow method to get the most out of your meat and allow time for all of your flavors to meld and take shape.

Other reasons to choose chicken thighs over breast meat

As previously mentioned, chicken thighs consist mainly of dark meat, which is higher in fat content and makes an overall juicier cut of meat. On the other hand, chicken breasts are much leaner and have more protein — but they also cook a lot faster than fattier parts of the chicken. This quick turnaround in cooking could result in the meat becoming over-cooked and leave you with dry-tasting chicken. Chicken thighs can also be purchased with the skin on, which creates a nice, crispy contrast to the tender meat beneath. 

For the savvy shopper, thighs tend to be less expensive when buying from the grocery store, market, or local butcher. This might be a bonus for those with a family or a big appetite, as you can get more meat for your money.

Chicken breasts have a longstanding reputation as the more nutritious alternative to fatty dark meat. However, when you compare a portion size of 100 grams of each type of meat, chicken thighs only have around 29 calories more than their white meat alternative. Dark chicken meat also contains more thiamine, niacin, and B12 vitamins than white breast meat. So, for your next taco night, take your tastebuds to flavor town and consider using tender chicken thighs as the main protein.