Grilled Salsa Verde Chicken

GrillQuick and EasyChicken

Hot summer weather just begs for easy, fast meals on the grill, and this Salsa Verde Chicken is exactly that. With homemade or store-bought salsa verde, they require almost zero effort but deliver big flavor.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas

One of summer’s pleasures is to cook outside on the grill. All the mess stays out of the kitchen, along with the heat.

The beauty of a dish like these grilled chicken thighs with salsa verde is that you have dinner on the table in 20 to 30 minutes, with almost zero prep time. 

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Salsa verde is a staple Mexican sauce made from tomatillos—a small green fruit with papery husks and a tart, bright flavor. Onions, lime, cilantro, and jalapeños round out the rest of the ingredients in the sauce.

You can make your own with Elise’s homemade recipe, but if you are pressed for time, picking up a jar of store-bought sauce can be a real gift to yourself.

Grilled Chicken Thighs Recipe serve the chicken


Once you have the salsa verde sauce, this dish requires very little hands-on work. You could marinate the chicken the day or morning before you want to cook it, and then just pop it on the grill a half an hour before suppertime.


I love to serve this chicken with lots of garnishes. If I have leftover corn, I might mix the kernels into a quick herb salad with chopped cilantro, radishes, and cherry tomatoes, and drizzle them with a few drops of olive oil and vinegar. Easy sides or garnishes like this add impromptu pizzazz and make the dish festive and fun.

A few corn tortillas warmed on the grill are a good idea, too. And if you want a more substantial meal, just put on a pot of rice while the chicken cooks on the grill and serve it all together.


Grilled Salsa Verde Chicken Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Oven Instructions: If you aren't in a grilling mood or don’t have a grill, you can roast the chicken in the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the chicken pieces in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan, skin side up. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF when a thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of a thigh and the skin is golden.


  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups salsa verde, either jarred or homemade, divided
  • Oil for the grill

To serve, any of the following:

  • Rice
  • Tortillas
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Corn, on or off the cob
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Avocado slices


1 Prepare the chicken: With scissors or a sharp knife, trim the excess skin and fat from the thighs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides.

2 Marinate the chicken: In a bowl, toss the chicken with 1 cup of the salsa verde to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to overnight.

Grilled Chicken with Salsa Verde marinate the chicken

3 Prepare the grill: If you are using a gas grill, set one side to high temperature and the other side to low temperature. Heat the grill to at least 450°F.

If you are using a charcoal grill, prepare a two-level fire by mounding the coals on one side of the grill, and leaving the second side empty.

When your grill is hot, use tongs to oil the grill grates with a small folded piece of paper towel dipped in oil.

4 Grill the chicken: Remove the chicken from the marinade. Place the thighs on the hot side of the grill, skin-side down. Cook them for a minute or two—just long enough for the skin to show the grill marks. Flip over and sear briefly on the other side. (Exact timing depends on the heat of your particular grill.)

Move the chicken to the cooler side of the grill. Continue to cook, turning once or twice, for about 6 to 8 minutes or until the temperature in thickest part of the chicken registers 165ºF. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes.

5 Serve the chicken: Transfer the chicken to a platter or individual plates. Serve with the remaining 1/2 cup salsa verde on the side and your choice of toppings.

Grilled Chicken Thighs Recipe serve the chicken

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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5 Comments / Reviews

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  1. stacy

    Your recipe says in step 1 trim the excess skin and fat from the thighs and then in step 4 Cook them for a minute or two—just long enough for the skin to show the grill marks. I’m new to this so I removed all the skin as it was hanging thinking it’s excess, but now I need it… ??

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  2. Alex

    How would I use my stove to grill the chicken? could i?

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  3. tammy

    Your directions for grilling thighs requires a response, although I originally decided to let it go. I challenge you to cook a thigh this fast on ANY grill, not just mine, and have an edible thigh. Boneless/skinless maybe, but not ‘bone in skin on’. I’ll admit that four bone in skin on thighs here in Florida weigh up to 2.61 pound, depending on which store I buy from. Still, I am 60 and have grilled every size thigh there is, none as fast as this recipe states.

Grilled Chicken with Salsa VerdeGrilled Salsa Verde Chicken