Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs – CrossFit Series


This video was featured in the CrossFit Journal last week. I’ve subscribed to The Journal since 2008 and have benefited greatly from this awesome resource. If you value health and enjoy moving large loads long distances quickly, then give it a gander and sign up today!

This dish is inspired by my love for the boneless chicken thigh. In 2002, while working on the opening crew for Whole Foods Cherry Creek, I met this guy named Big Dan. He was setting up a Bento station between the pizza station and the sandwich station, just across from the prepared foods station. Bento is the Japanese word for lunch. I instantly fell in love with its partitioned serving trays and boneless thigh offerings. This was also my first exposure to sweet chili sauce, with Bento Dan’s picture on the front of the bottle.

Dan is a big, soft-spoken guy with a great smile. He is credited with bringing the Bento concept to America, and I credit him for my love of boneless chicken thighs. He is the last person you would expect to be a Japanese Cuisinier, but he spent several years there and speaks the language fluently. Here is a short video that tells his story and shows his token grin…

I think that my Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs are in line with this Bento concept, so I thought I’d share the story. Big Dan, if you are reading this, I hope I’ve made you proud!!

It was because of my time spent tossing pizzas at Whole Foods Cherry Creek that @MarzMedia and I were able to shoot this video.

Chicken thighs freeze really well, so I encourage you to make large batches of this preparation and freeze them in individual portions. In doing so, you will always have tasty protein at your disposal. Set up a chicken thigh bank account in your freezer and when you get low, make more and make a deposit. Just remember FIFO, First-In-First-Out, for food safety!

Now you know a little bit more about me, the story behind this dish, and a chubby guy named Dan.

If you find yourself in Portland, Oregon, be sure to stop by Big Dan’s West Coast Bento to eat a great meal and meet the guy behind the movement.

Unfortunately, the Bento station at Whole Foods Cherry Creek no longer exists. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s been replaced by the traditional American offerings of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and mac and cheese nestled neatly between the sandwiches and the pizza station. Which makes it more and more of a challenge to, Keep It Paleo!

I hope that you make disciplined diet decisions today!

Hasta la proxima vez,

Paleo Nick

Honey Sesame Chicken Thighs

Ingredients List:

  • 3 ½  pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • ½ Cup fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ Cup fresh garlic, minced
  • ½ Cup fesh cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 tablespoons Tamari, Shoyu, Soy Sauce, or Coconut Aminos
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, toasted or raw
  • ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • ½ Tablespoon black sesame seeds

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and marinate for 30 minutes, or up to 24 hours. 
  2. Heat a large, non-stick sauté pan over high heat.
  3. Place chicken thighs in pan, skin side down (that’s the shiny side) and sear for approximately 2 minutes on each side. Your goal is to achieve a caramelized outer, which will be dark brown in color. Be careful of overcrowding the pan, 5-6 thighs at a time will be plenty. Otherwise, the pan will cool down too much and you won’t achieve the flavorful crust.
  4. Remove thighs to a bowl and wrap in plastic wrap to trap in heat. You need to achieve an internal temperature of 165° F. If that is not achieved through the carry over cooking of the bowl wrapped in plastic, then finish the thighs on a sheet pan in a 350° oven.
  5. Eat these immediately, store them in the fridge for up to one week (they won’t last that long), or in the freezer for up to six months.
  6. Enjoy, share with your friends, and, as always, leave questions to comments.

“Keep It Paleo!”

Zone Breakdown


We are starting with 3.5 pounds of chicken thighs.  This is 1589g of chicken thighs, and with one block raw weighing 33g, we have a total of 48 blocks from Chicken for Protien.  Of if we do the cooked measurement, 1589g cooks down to 1319g.  And with a cooked block weighing 28g, we again get 48 blocks from the chicken.


We have very few carbs in this recipe, as its more for flavoring the chicken versus giving us what we need to complete the meal.  That said, the sauce still has some carbs in it so lets look at where they come from.

We have ½ cup of Fresh Ginger.  56g of fresh ginger equals one block, and with ½ cup weighing about 24g, we will round that to .5 of a carb block.

We are including a lot of garlic in this recipe.  About one clove of minced garlic equals 1 tsp, and we are using ½ cup of minced garlic which is 24 teaspoons, or 24 cloves.  We know that 10 cloves equal one block, therefore we have 24 cloves, or 2.5 blocks from the garlic.

Honey is providing a large portion of the carbs to this flavoring.  We know that ½ teaspoon of honey equals one block.  Therefore, with 2 tablespoons of honey being used, we are getting 12 blocks from honey.


We are getting a heavy dose of sesame in this recipe.  From the oil, we are using 2 tablespoons, and with ½ teaspoon equaling one block, we end up with 12 blocks of Fat from the sesame oil.  Additionally, we are using a combined total of 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds, albeit half white, half black.  We measure ¼ of a teaspoon equaling one block so therefore we have 12 fat blocks from the seeds.


Altogether this is a pretty heavy protein dish.  We would want to supplement this with some veggies to bring the carb count up for a balanced meal.  We can get 12 4-block protein blocks from this recipe.  If we did this, in addition, you would add 2 Fat blocks and about 1 Carb block as some of the sauce will be left in the pan after.  Supplement this meal with three additional carb blocks and 2 additional fat blocks for a healthy balanced 4-block meal.


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