Wishing tonight’s dinner was easy, inexpensive, and pretty difficult to mess up? Bonus points if it’s healthy too? Time to make Baked Chicken Thighs!
While boneless skinless chicken breast might occupy the default setting in your grocery shopping approach (people rarely complain about juicy Grilled Chicken Breast), it is well worth picking up a pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs every now and then instead.
Why I Love Chicken Thighs
- Dark chicken thigh meat is juicier and far less prone to drying out than white breast meat.
- While many think white meat is healthier, this is hardly the case. Chicken thighs are packed with nutrition. Compared to white meat, dark meat has more iron, zinc, vitamin B-12, thiamine, and other nutrients too. Bring on the chicken thigh recipes!
- Yes, dark meat has more fat than white, but it’s still a very lean, healthy protein.
- Bone-in chicken has more flavor and is juicier than boneless chicken because the bone flavors the meat from the inside and helps retain moisture (it’s why you can skip brining when making Baked Bone-In Chicken Breast, but it’s necessary for juicy boneless Grilled Chicken Breast or Air Fryer Chicken Breast).
- It’s a bargain! Per pound, dark meat is less expensive than white meat, and bone-in chicken is less expensive than boneless.
5 Star Review
“Followed to a tee and it was absolutely delicious!!! Served some mashed sweet potatoes on the side!! Love your recipes!!”— Kara —
Old fashioned baked chicken thighs are equally as make-ahead friendly as they are last-minute healthy dinner material. (Though for the fastest method for preparing chicken, try Pan Fried Chicken Breast.)
- I recommend 60 minutes of marinade time, but you can reduce it to 30 minutes if you need a shortcut.
- On the opposite side of the timeline, you can completely prep them the night before and pop them into the oven when it’s time for dinner.
- You can bake chicken thighs with just about any range of seasonings.
Today, I’m giving you my best 5-star chicken thigh recipe for the oven with dried Italian herbs, garlic, and lemon, all of which deserve to be standard kitchen material.
If you have fresh herbs, by all means, please use them.
If not, you’ll still whip up a tasty baked chicken thighs recipe of which you can be proud.
The Best Baked Chicken Thighs
My special trick for this recipe is to thinly slice an onion and scatter it around the chicken thighs.
The slices break down and mingle with the schmaltzy chicken cooking fat to create the most marvelous, jammy onions that are divine served on top.
How to Bake Juicy Chicken Thighs
What temp should chicken thighs be baked at? I find it best to bake chicken thigh recipes like this one at a high temperature—425 degrees F.
- Since chicken thighs are lean, they don’t benefit from low, slow cooking the way tougher, more marbled cuts like Slow Cooker Pulled Pork do. A shorter cook time with high heat is the move.
- If needed, you can adjust the oven temperature down to as low as 400 degrees F to accommodate other dishes—say you are cooking the chicken thighs in the oven at the same time as a pan of Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Oven Roasted Potatoes, or Roasted Butternut Squash. Simply extend the cooking time by a few minutes (or go for 415 degrees F—right in between).
- Chicken Thighs. Flavorful and succulent, chicken thighs are a fantastic, healthy ingredient (especially in this Chicken Cacciatore). I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, which are healthy, affordable, and nearly impossible to mess up.
- Italian Marinade. A mixture of olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning (which contains oregano, basil, marjoram, and more), dried rosemary, salt, pepper, and lemon. It imparts light and bright Italian flavor onto the chicken and helps make it extra juicy.
- Onion. Once roasted, the onions become deliciously caramelized and sweet. They make these baked chicken thighs feel extra special and elevated.
- Vinegar. A small but impactful addition that makes the flavor of the onions pop. Either sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar will work here.
- Fresh Herbs. Fresh parsley, tarragon, or thyme is the perfect finishing touch.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and place it in a bowl or ziptop bag. Add the marinade ingredients to the chicken. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
- Slice the onions and place them in a baking dish.
What to bake chicken thighs in? While a baking sheet will do, I like to use a shallow 9×13 baking dish so I can save all of the yummy pan drippings for serving.
- Toss the onions with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Nestle the chicken thighs into the onions skin side up.
- Bake the chicken thighs at 425 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing the onions partway through.
Some baked chicken thigh recipes require covering with foil. This is not one of them. When baking chicken thighs with the skin on, leaving them uncovered ensures the skin crisps up (YUM!) and turns perfectly golden.
- Remove the chicken to a plate, cover with foil, and let rest. Place the baking dish back into the oven and continue baking the onions.
- Remove the onions from the oven, and stir in the vinegar. If desired, for extra crispy chicken thighs return the chicken to the pan and broil on the upper third rack for crispy skin. ENJOY!
More Ways to Season Chicken Thighs
Below you’ll find my go-to Italian baked chicken thighs recipe variation, but this recipe is versatile. Feel free to vary the seasonings according to your craving.
- BBQ Baked Chicken Thighs. Season the thighs with your favorite BBQ spice blend. Bake per the time and temperature suggested in the recipe (with or without the onions). Serve with Barbecue Sauce.
- Old Fashioned Chicken Thighs. Keep it simple with salt, pepper, and paprika. Serve with Easy Drop Biscuits and your favorite gravy.
- Southern Baked Chicken Thighs. Season the chicken with a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, seasoned salt, a little cayenne, and dried rosemary.
- Curry Baked Chicken Thighs. Season the thighs with curry powder, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and salt. (This variation would be scrumptious with Turmeric Rice.)
- To Store. Place chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze chicken thighs in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 12 hours in advance, dry and marinate the chicken thighs as directed in Step 1. Refrigerate until you’re ready to bake.
What to Serve with Baked Chicken Thighs
This versatile protein pairs well with just about any side dish!
- Sautéed Vegetables. Sautéed Carrots, Sautéed Brussels Sprouts, and Sautéed Cabbage can all be prepared on the stove while the chicken thighs bake.
- Mashed Potatoes. Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Instant Pot Mashed Sweet Potatoes are two classic comfort pairings.
- Rice. Try this Lemon Rice for a brighter flavor or cauliflower rice for a low carbohydrates option.
- Salad. A green salad such as fiber packed Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad makes this a complete meal.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Baking Dish. This baking dish is ideal for making baked chicken thighs.
- Measuring Spoons. These double-sided magnetic spoons are incredibly easy to store.
- Citrus Juicer. My go-to tool for juicing lemons and limes.
I hope this recipe is just the helping hand (er, thigh) for many of your weeknight chicken recipes to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
GET ONE. It’s one of the most important tools in your kitchen. I use it to check everything from meat, to fish, to banana bread for doneness. If you insist on living without one or are in a panic for dinner tonight, cut your chicken. The juices should run clear.
Not necessarily. Chicken meat, especially dark meat, can look pink even when it is cooked through. The absolute best, safest way to know if your chicken is cooked to temperature is to use an instant-read thermometer.
If your chicken thighs are dry, it is because they are overcooked. While you can’t go back, you can cover your mistake by serving baked chicken thighs in sauce. Try the honey Dijon mustard sauce from my Pecan Crusted Chicken.
If you prefer lean white meat chicken breasts over baked chicken thighs, here is my recipe for the BEST Baked Chicken Breast. You can use the marinade from this recipe if you like.
Baked chicken thigh recipes get tough when either baked too long or when they’re not properly marinaded before cooking. To avoid tough chicken thighs, make sure to pull them when they reach the right internal temperature (see the box above for tips) and make sure to marinate for at least 30 minutes (or longer). Marinading chicken helps break down the muscle fibers so the chicken is tender once baked.
Sure! See my Air Fryer Chicken Thighs for tips (the onions you can roast separately or saute on the stove if you like).
Baked Chicken Thighs
- 2 1/4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs about 4
- 3 garlic cloves minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 lemon zest and juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper divided
- 2 small or 1 extra large onion
- 1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- Chopped fresh parsley or tarragon or thyme, plus additional for serving
- Pat the chicken dry and place in a large bowl or large ziptop bag. Add the garlic, 2 tablespoons oil, Italian seasoning, rosemary, lemon zest and juice (zest the lemon right over the bag or bowl), 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss the chicken (or seal the bag and turn to coat). Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour or cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Thinly slice the onions and place in a 9×13 or similarly sized roasting pan or casserole dish.
- Drizzle the onions with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and shake off any excess. Clear some spaces in the onions for the chicken, then nestle it in.
- Bake the chicken thighs for 15 minutes. Remove the pan and toss the onions to promote even cooking (I use a fork to stir them around a bit). Return to the oven and bake for 10 to 20 additional minutes (that’s 25 to 35 minutes total), until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 155 to 160 degrees F (chicken is considered cooked at 165 degrees F, but its temperature will continue to rise as it rests). If you’d like to brown the chicken skin further, at the end of the cooking time, place the pan under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes (watch closely!).
- Remove the chicken to a serving plate. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Stir the onions in the pan, spread them into an even layer, then return them to the oven to roast further while the chicken rests. The onions will become jammy and a few might look a little crispy.
- Remove the onions from the oven, then stir the vinegar into them. If desired, return the chicken to the pan and place under the broiler for crispy skin.
- Serve the chicken thighs warm, with onions spooned over the top. Sprinkle with fresh herbs.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken thighs in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze chicken thighs in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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