These baked lemon chicken thighs come together in a flash, yielding perfectly cooked meat, crispy skin, and a plentiful, delicious lemon sauce.
This is a chicken recipe you could laminate for posterity. It’s the chicken recipe that even the most reluctant cook in this household (aka my youngest child) has gladly learned to make because a) it’s delicious and b) it couldn’t be simpler.
These super juicy baked lemon chicken thighs could not be easier to prepare. There are no hard to find ingredients, no sautéing or browning, or marinating anything. The chicken thighs are simply seasoned with salt, lemon zest, garlic powder, and pepper before being placed in a pan where a pool of lemon juice and white wine awaits them. Less than 40 minutes later, they’re done: golden-brown chicken skin, tender and juicy meat, and a gorgeous abundant sauce to spoon over everythig.
Why bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
In general, the cooking method will dictate whether to use skinless boneless chicken thighs or chicken thighs with bone-in, skin-on. For baking, skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs are absolutely the best way to go. When you bake with skin-on chicken thighs, the skin will prevent the meat from drying out and make it really juicy. The bone in a chicken thigh will impart a deep meaty flavour and also help make the meat meltingly tender.
The only disadvantage to using skin-on chicken thighs is that the sauce might end up with too much rendered fat, which I do not enjoy. To avoid this, I cut off a lot of the extra fat using kitchen shears, and even some of the skin. This is purely optional, of course. If you don’t mind the sauce being fattier, then by all means leave the skin on. Alternatively, you can pour the sauce into a measuring cup, let the fat rise to the top, then skim it off.
Feel free to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, or even breasts, for this recipe, if that is what you prefer. They will not take as long to cook and they will still be delicious.
How to make baked lemon chicken thighs
We love these easy to prepare baked lemon chicken thighs! To make these chicken thighs extra lemony they are rubbed with a lemon salt mixture and then they bake in a lemony-wine sauce with lots of lemon slices that melt into the sauce. So simple, and so good. Feel free to follow this basic method for baking the chicken thighs using any other flavours you like.
Here are the super easy steps:
- Preheat the oven to 425º F.
- Prepare the baking pan. I like to line a baking dish with parchment paper for easier cleanup and because the sauce will not burn off as easily.
- Prepare the lemon salt. Place salt, lemon zest, garlic powder, and pepper in a small bowl and combine using your fingers.
- Pat dry the chicken. Drying the moisture off the chicken will yield better flavour and crispier skin.
- Season the chicken. Place the thighs on parchment paper and using your hands rub them with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle the lemon zest mixture evenly on both sides.
- Bake. Pour lemon juice, olive oil, and wine into the pan then add the chicken thighs skin side up. Bake the thighs at 425°F for about 30-35 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Don’t undercook, or overcook them: I honestly think it would be very hard to overcook skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs. But for the best, melt-off-the-bone thighs, remove them from the oven when they reach an internal temperature of about 165ºF. Regardless of their size, most chicken thighs need to cook at least 30 minutes to not be chewy or undercooked.
- Don’t bake the chicken cold: You should always remove meat from the fridge for a while before you plan on cooking it. Cold meat will not cook evenly. Chicken will not take too long to warm up so 15-20 minutes before cooking should be enough.
- Cook at a relative high temperature: A higher temperature helps crisp the skin.
What to serve with juicy baked lemon chicken thighs
The best part about these baked chicken thighs is the super delicious lemony-wine sauce that is simple enough to go well with just about anything.
I like to serve them with something that will soak up the all the lemony juices and that I can make quickly while the chicken is baking. Mashed potatoes with this spinach dish make a simply divine accompaniment to the chicken. A buttery orzo, wild rice, or this cauliflower mash with this cucumber salad would also be fantastic.
Recently, we enjoyed it with this roasted delicata squash and quinoa salad and the leftovers were to die for the next day.
Baked Lemon Chicken Thighs
Lemon salt rub
- 1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt or a pinch more to taste
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper or more to taste
For the chicken
- 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 6- 8 thighs*
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- juice of 1 lemon (use the lemon you zested)
- 1/4 cup white wine, or chicken broth (optional)
- 1 lemon thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking pan or baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Combine the salt, lemon zest, garlic powder, and pepper in a small bowl. Rub together with your fingers to mix well. The texture will be slightly damp.
- Pat dry the chicken well with paper towels and trim off some of the excess fat, if you wish. Using your hands, rub the chicken thighs with 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides. Then rub the lemon salt over the chicken on both sides.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon juice, and wine to the prepared baking pan. Place the chicken thighs in the pan skin side up. Nestle the lemon slices around the chicken and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the thighs are crispy and golden-brown on top and the internal tmperture is 165ºF.
- Garnish with chopped parsley, if using. Serve warm with orzo or rice, if desired.