Lemony, juicy, tender and flavourful. These oven baked lemon chicken thighs are easy and convenient, making it the ideal healthy weeknight dinners. Pair with some steamed or sauteed vegetables for a scrumptious, fuss-free meal!
- Chicken thighs this recipe uses boneless and skinless chicken thighs. If using bone-in, skin-on thighs, increase cook time to 30 minutes.
- Dark brown sugar can substitute for honey or raw/caster sugar. Dark sugar adds a little more depth in flavour as it contains molasses.
This is how you make it
Very simply, marinate the chicken for 30 minutes then bake for around 20 minutes at 180°C/350°F for the first 10 minutes then 200°C/400°F for the remaining 10 minutes.
Marinating chicken thighs makes a huge difference in their taste, tenderness and juiciness. Like this Marinated Chicken Stir Fry with Green Beans recipe! You could get away with no marinating, although still good, it just won't be as tender and tasty.
Lemon juice is only squeezed onto the chicken seconds before it goes into the oven. And for good reasons as explained below.
Lemon zest and juice
Never marinate chicken with lemon juice as they are highly acidic and will toughen the meat up. The opposite of what you want. So adding just before cooking is how we can add acidity and flavour to the chicken, at the same time, keeping it juicy and tender.
As such, the trick to adding as much lemon flavour into the chicken as possible is by adding the zest of a lemon into the chicken rub and let it marinate in all that lemony goodness. Lemon zest is your friend here.
There is one exception. If marinating with yoghurt or buttermilk then a little lemon juice in the marinade will be okay. The yoghurt or buttermilk will dilute the acidity of the lemon juice and act as a protective layer. Nonetheless, you shouldn't marinate for longer than 2 hours if using this method.
Look at those delicious, lemony chicken juices! So healthy and so yum.
Tips for making this perfect every time
- Bring the chicken up to room temperature before cooking. The chicken will cook more evenly and come out juicier. For this recipe, which requires 30 minutes of marinating time, let it sit in the fridge for the first 10 minutes then take it out onto the kitchen bench for the remaining 20 minutes.
- Marinate the chicken. Tempting to skip but do give it time as you'll be rewarded with tender, juicy and flavoursomechicken! Even 15 minutes is better than none.
- Use fresh lemon, zest and juice. None of that bottled stuff which is often a little bitter and flat in flavour. Not to mention the avoidable preservatives that are added to bottled lemon juices.
- Baste chicken with juices once cooked. It helps keep it juicy and flavourful.
Cooked to perfection, juicy juicy and juicy!
Good to know (FAQs)
When cooking with skin-on and bone-in chicken thighs, best to keep it cooking skin side up the entire time. This will allow the skin to stay dry and crisp up.
However, if using boneless, skinless chicken thighs, it is best to flip the chicken half-way through. Without the protection of chicken skin to keep the chicken juicy, flipping stops one side from becoming drier than the other.
For this recipe, you don't have to. Cooking these chicken thighs uncovered allows the sugar (or honey, if using) to caramelise in the last 10 minutes and thus producing delicious results!
Marinating overnight will yield great results, up to 24 hours.
Keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days or up to 6 months in the freezer. Next meal prep idea?
Made this Oven Baked Lemon Chicken Thighs recipe? Let me know your thoughts or questions by dropping a note in the comments section below! I'd love to hear from you 🙂
Oven baked lemon chicken thighs
- 1 kg /2.2lbs chicken thighs, boneless, skinless (note 1)
- 1 lemon zest & juice
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar substitute: honey or caster sugar
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Combine all ingredients (except chicken thighs and lemon) into a mixing bowl.
- Using a small zester/grater, add the zest of 1 lemon into the mixing bowl. Cut the lemon in half, thinly slice half of the lemon (the other half will be used to squeeze onto chicken) and aside for later.
- Add chicken thighs into the bowl and thoroughly mix well. Cover and marinate for 30 minutes. (note 2)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
- Spread marinated chicken thighs onto a lined baking tray, leaving wiggle room in between each piece. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto each chicken thigh. Scatter thinly sliced lemons onto the tray. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
- Take the chicken out of the oven, turn the oven temperature up to 200°C/400°F.
- Flip chicken over with a pair of tongs and squeeze a little more lemon juice on top. Return in the oven but on the top shelf for 10 more minutes or until juices runs clear when the thickest part of a thigh is cut through.
- Baste chicken with chicken juices just before serving.
More yummy chicken recipes!