I’ve shared a bunch of uber-easy, busy-weeknight recipes over the years. (Salsa Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, and Oven-roasted Tri-tip are some of my favs.) And today I have another quick and simple dinner recipe for you: Crispy Lemon Chicken Thighs.
This is my current go-to recipe for nights I don’t want to cook and I’m two seconds away from takeout or popcorn for dinner. It’s a super-simple one-pan dish, with almost no measuring involved, and the only thing you’re going to have to cut is a lemon.
Lemon Chicken Thigh Ingredient Notes
- Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: Thigh size varies quite a bit so plan on serving 2 small thighs or 1 very large thigh per person. If making for guests or big eaters, just automatically plan on 2 thighs per person.
- A lemon: You’ll use both the juice of the lemon and slices of it to help flavor the chicken as it cooks.
- Ground thyme, salt, and pepper: With a big flavor like lemon in the mix, I like to keep rest of the seasoning simple. A dusting of thyme, salt, and pepper is all you need here.
How to Make Lemon Chicken Thighs
1. You start by patting down bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with a paper towel so they are completely dry (this allows the skin to get extra crispy). Then salt and pepper the thighs generously and add a sprinkle of ground thyme over the top. If you want to measure the thyme, use about 1/4 teaspoon, but it’s easier to evenly distribute the thyme by carefully sprinkling it directly out of the spice canister.
2. Heat oil in a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken, skin-side down. The chicken will pop and sizzle as it cooks. This is normal, but if it’s making too much of a mess or making you nervous, cover the chicken with a splatter screen or turn the heat down slightly.
2. Cook the thighs until the skin is deeply golden and crispy. And then remove the pan from heat and flip. If you try to flip the thighs and the skin is sticking to the pan, the chicken’s not ready to be flipped. Put it back on the heat. The skin will self-release when it’s ready.
3. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lemon over the pan and then slice the other half and nestle the slices amongst the thighs. Don’t cook the chicken with lemon slices on top of the thighs as the moisture can make the skin less crispy.
4. Bake for 15 to 22 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thighs reads at least 165°F. Thigh size varies wildly, so very large thighs may take longer to cook. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes and serve.
Batch-cooked or Meal Prep Chicken Thighs
These chicken thighs are actually a great option for batch cooking and meal prepping if that’s your jam. The recipe’s easy to size up since there’s practically no measuring anyway, and the thighs stay moist and tasty in the fridge. The skin won’t be crispy after reheating, but it will still taste great.
You can also pull the skin off some of the thighs and shred the meat to use on sandwiches, small batches of soup, or salads.
To make a larger batch of thighs, brown the thighs on the stove in batches, squeeze lemon juice over the top, and then transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet instead of baking them in the skillet. Use the juice of one lemon half per skillet full of chicken thighs and just skip adding the extra lemon slices as described in the recipe as they won’t add much flavor sitting on a baking sheet.
If taking for lunches, you can debone the cooked thighs to make them less messy to eat. Just flip a thigh over, and use a paring knife to slice the meat away from the single bone. The bone should pull away pretty easily. Then you can slice the thighs into easy-to-eat pieces before packing them.
What should I serve with lemon chicken?
Serve two thighs per person for small thighs, one for large thighs (particularly when serving with a filling carb side). My family loves eating this with a side of white steamed rice and an oven-baked veggie that I cook on a lower rack of the oven at the same time as the chicken, like Roasted Zucchini or Oven-roasted Broccoli.
- More Carb Options: Parmesan Orzo, Mashed Potatoes and Quick Gravy, Cheddar Cheese Scones
- More Vegetable Options: Steamed Broccoli, Butter and Garlic Green Beans, Microwave Corn on the Cob
- Dessert Options (obviously essential): Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies, Small-batch Brownies, and M&M Cookies
At what temperature is chicken done in an oven?
Chicken is cooked through when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. Use an instant-read thermometer and check the temperature in the thickest part of the meat, making sure that the thermometer is not touching bone as you take the reading.
Can I use boneless skinless chicken breasts/chicken thighs in this recipe?
You can. Just follow the recipe as written but brown both sides of the meat on the stove before baking. Boneless thighs will need a significantly shorter baking time, so start checking on them after about 6 minutes. Depending on their size, boneless chicken breasts should take about the same amount of time as bone-in thighs, but keep an eye on them and start checking the temperature of the meat fairly early.
More EASY Chicken Recipes
- Baked BBQ Chicken Thighs
- Chicken and Broccoli Orzo
- Chicken Francaise
- Quick Chicken Fajitas
- Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup
Crispy Lemon Chicken Thighs
- Oven-safe skillet *
- Instant-read thermometer
Lemon Chicken Thighs
- 1 lemon washed
- 4 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs*
- Salt and pepper
- Ground thyme
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Slice half of the lemon into thin slices and set slices and remaining uncut half aside.
- Pat chicken thighs dry and sprinkle both sides with salt, pepper, and a light dusting (about 1/4 teaspoon total) of thyme.
- In a large oven-safe skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, swirl oil around the pan so that it is completely coated. Place thighs in the skillet skin-side down, and cook until well-browned and crispy, about 4-6 minutes.
- Remove from heat and flip chicken thighs. Nestle lemon slices in the pan between the chicken pieces and squeeze juice from remaining lemon half over the chicken.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes (longer for very large thighs), until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the thighs reads 165°F.
- Remove from oven, allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
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