Honey sesame chicken thighs are roasted with tender acorn squash and kale in a flavorful honey sesame sauce for an easy dinner made in less than an hour!
Let me tell you what your chicken dinners should be looking like from here on out –> it starts and ends with that beautiful pan up there.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for ways to breathe new life into boring chicken thighs. My newest solution is smothering them in honey sesame sauce and roasting ’em up with a little squash + kale action.
Simple solution, big return. This chicken is going to rock your dinner world.
The game changer here is the honey sesame sauce. It’s a slight riff off of my wildly popular honey garlic chicken thighs (run don’t walk to try that recipe, seriously – the 80+ 5 star reviews don’t lie) only we’re adding a flavorful sesame kick and a little fresh ginger action.
So good you probably wouldn’t mind eating cardboard if it was smothered in this sauce.
These Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs feature…
- Juicy seared chicken thighs
- A flavorful honey sesame sauce
- Tender roasted acorn squash
- Crispy kale leaves
Making the Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs
(scroll down to the bottom of post for the full recipe)
Ingredients You Will Need
- Chicken thighs
- Vegetable oil
- Unsalted butter
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame seeds
- Acorn squash
- Green onions
Choosing Your Chicken Cut
If possible, we recommend using bone-in skin-on chicken thighs for this recipe. However, if you don’t have those on hand, you can easily adapt this recipe for other cuts of chicken.
Boneless skinless chicken breasts: follow recipe instructions for searing. Decrease bake time to 15-20 minutes or until chicken registers 165F. (remove chicken from pan and continue baking squash and kale until tender)
Boneless skinless chicken thighs: follow recipe instructions for searing. Decrease bake time to 10-15 minutes or until chicken registers 165F. (remove chicken from pan and continue baking squash and kale until tender)
Tips for Perfect Chicken Thighs
- Pan sear chicken thighs – pan searing the chicken thighs gets a jump start on cooking before you roast, plus it gets the skin perfectly golden and crispy.
- Simmer honey sesame sauce – this sauce is very simple – it’s just sesame oil, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. Let it simmer a few minutes until slightly reduced and you’re good to go.
- Slice squash thin – use a good chef knife for this job. You want the slices thin, about 1/4-inch thick. No need to remove the skin, it’s perfectly edible!
- Toss half of sauce with squash and kale – place the squash and kale in a large bowl and toss well with about half the honey sesame sauce.
- Drizzle remaining sauce over chicken – once you have the squash, kale, and chicken arranged in your pan, drizzle the remaining sauce over chicken.
- Roast chicken – roast the chicken at 400F 25-30 minutes until the chicken registers 165F on a kitchen thermometer and the squash is tender. If you find the chicken is browning a bit too much on top before it’s done, lay a loose piece of tin foil over the chicken and continue roasting.
- Top chicken with green onions – this adds an extra kick of flavor and gives the dish a nice little pop of color!
- Spoon pan drippings on top – the honey sesame sauce will collect a bit on the bottom of the pan, so don’t forget to spoon up this sauce and drizzle it over the chicken.
There’s several ways you can make this recipe your own! A few of our suggestions…
- Try another vegetable – swap out the kale for baby spinach, mushrooms, or another favorite vegetable!
- Switch up the squash – butternut, delicata, or even sliced sweet potatoes would be a great stand-in for the acorn squash.
- Skip the green onions – if you don’t love onions, skip ’em and add a sprinkle of fresh minced parsley instead.
Make Ahead Instructions
The quickest way to speed up this dinner is to cut all the vegetables beforehand.
You can cut the acorn squash and kale, as well as mince the garlic and ginger up to several days in advance and store in the refrigerator. This little bit of work makes prep for this chicken go so much faster!
This is just one of those SUPER simple dinners that really let the flavors shine for themselves. The chicken is crispy, juicy, smothered in sweet + flavorful sauce while the acorn squash and kale roasts up perfectly tender.
You’re just going to love it. Simple enough for a weeknight, yet totally fancy enough for any nicer dinner occasion.
Save this recipe using the ‘save to recipe box’ button below. If you make it, please let us know! Leave a comment + star rating below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #wholeandheavenlyoven
More ways to use chicken thighs you might like!
Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs with Acorn Squash and Kale
- 4 medium bone-in chicken thighs, patted dry (about 1 lb)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 small acorn squash, cut in half, seeds scooped out, and each half cut into 1/4-in thick slices
- 2 cups firmly-packed kale, torn into 1-in pieces
- Sliced green onions for topping
- Preheat oven to 400F. Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Heat butter and vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted and hot.
- Place chicken thighs skin-side down in pan and sear 2-3 minutes on both sides until golden brown. Remove chicken from skillet and transfer to a plate.
- Drain grease from skillet and wipe clean. Heat sesame oil in skillet over medium-high heat until shimmery. Add garlic and ginger and saute 1 minute until fragrant. Add honey, soy sauce, and rice vinegar to pan and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Stir in sesame seeds.
- Toss about half of honey sesame sauce with acorn squash and kale in a large bowl. Arrange acorn squash and kale in a greased 9×13 baking dish. Arrange chicken on and around squash and kale. Spoon remaining sauce over top of chicken.
- Bake chicken at 400F 25-30 minutes or until chicken registers 165F, acorn squash is tender, and kale is crispy. (cover chicken loosely with tin foil if it starts to brown too quickly)
- Use a spoon to drizzle sauce drippings in pan over chicken and squash. Sprinkle green onions on top. Serve warm and enjoy!