Chicken Thighs in the Oven
Wishing tonight’s dinner was easy, inexpensive, and pretty difficult to mess up? Bonus points if it’s healthy? Time to make Chicken Thighs in the Oven!
While baked boneless skinless chicken breast might occupy the default setting in your grocery shopping approach, it is well worth picking up a pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs every now and then instead.
Old fashioned chicken thighs in the oven 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.
Today, I’m giving you my best 5-star, juicy chicken thighs in the oven recipe with dried Italian herbs (feel free to swap for fresh herbs if you have them), garlic, and lemon.
This is one tasty (and healthy) chicken thighs in the oven recipe you can serve with pride.
Benefits of 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 skinless chicken thighs 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.
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How to Make the BEST Chicken Thighs in the Oven
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 for chicken thighs in the oven.
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 or Roasted Butternut Squash. Simply extend the cooking time by a few minutes (or go for 415 degrees F—right in between).
Or, you can make a sheet pan Rosemary Chicken Thighs, which include veggies on the same pan.
Chicken Thighs. Flavorful and succulent, chicken thighs are a fantastic, healthy ingredient (try them in 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. This bright Chicken Marinade is another marinade you can use for chicken in the oven.Onion. My special trick for this recipe is to thinly slice an onion and scatter it around the chicken thighs as they bake in the oven. Once roasted, the onions become deliciously caramelized and sweet. 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.
Marinate chicken thighs for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
Place the onions in a dish and season them.
A shallow 9×13 baking dish is best for baking chicken thighs so you can save all of the yummy pan drippings for serving. A regular rimmed baking sheet works too.
Nestle the chicken thighs into the onions skin side up.
Bake chicken thighs in the oven at 425 degrees F for 25 to 35 minutes, tossing the onions partway through. Remove the chicken to a plate, cover, and let rest. Continue baking the onions.If desired, for extra crispy chicken thighs in the oven return the chicken to the pan and broil on the upper third rack for several minutes (don’t walk away!) until crisp. ENJOY!
Some chicken thighs in the oven recipes require covering with aluminum foil. This is not one of them. When baking chicken thighs with the skin on, you’re trying to achieve crispy chicken thighs in the oven. Therefore, leaving them uncovered ensures a crispy skin that turns perfectly golden. YUM!
How to Tell Your Chicken Thighs are Done
Overcooking is the enemy of juicy, tender chicken thighs in the oven.
The best (and I’d say only true) way to tell if your chicken is cooked properly is to use an instant-read meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part.
This is the absolute best one and well worth the purchase price. It reads temps instantly and is spot-on accurate.This inexpensive model still works well and can save your dinner.
Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees F, but its temperature will rise after it is removed from the heat. I remove my chicken 5 to 10 degrees early (155 to 160 degrees F) and let it rest.
Resting allows the meat to come to a safe temperature.Resting is necessary so that the juices have time to reincorporate into the chicken.
More Ways to Season Chicken Thighs in the Oven
Below you’ll find my go-to Italian chicken thighs in the oven recipe variation, but this recipe is versatile. Feel free to vary the seasonings according to your craving.
BBQ Chicken Thighs in the Oven. Season the thighs with your favorite BBQ spice blend (such as smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic and onion powder). Bake per the time and temperature suggested in the recipe (with or without the onions). Serve with Barbecue Sauce.Old Fashioned Chicken Thighs in the Oven. Keep the taste pure and simple with salt, pepper, and paprika. Serve with Easy Drop Biscuits and your favorite gravy.Southern Chicken Thighs in the Oven. Season the chicken with a blend of garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, seasoned salt, a little cayenne, and dried rosemary. Curry Chicken Thighs in the Oven. 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.
De-bone and dice your chicken thighs, then toss them into your favorite pasta (this Pesto Pasta or Mushroom Pasta would be tasty) or reheat on the bone with Homemade Fried Rice for a tasty baked chicken thighs with rice dish. Leftovers also make a fantastic addition to a salad.
What to Serve with Chicken Thighs in the Oven
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.
More Side Dish Ideas
Roasted Asparagus for Easter
Oven Roasted Potatoes
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
Baking Dish. This baking dish is ideal for making chicken thighs in the oven.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 chicken thighs in the oven recipe is just the helping hand (er, thigh) for many of your weeknight chicken recipes to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not necessarily. Chicken meat, especially dark meat, can look pink even when it is cooked through. Again, 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 chicken thighs in the oven in sauce. Try the honey Dijon mustard sauce from my Pecan Crusted Chicken or go all out with Mushroom Gravy.
If you prefer lean white meat chicken breasts over chicken thighs in the oven, here is my recipe for the BEST Baked Split Chicken Breast. You can use the marinade from this recipe if you like.
Chicken thighs in the oven 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).
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Chicken Thighs in the Oven
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.
More Healthy Chicken Recipes
Here are more of my very favorite easy oven baked chicken recipes to try next:
One Pot Meals
Sheet Pan Chicken with Sweet Potatoes Apples and Brussels Sprouts
Skillet Tomato Chicken