Easy Baked Chicken Thighs

published Sep 9, 2023
How to Cook Chicken Thighs Recipe

A quick garlicky rub is the secret to making the easiest, most flavorful chicken thighs.


Prep5 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 35 minutes

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Overhead view of cooked chicken thighs in a white pan topped with herbs.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

I suffered through years of dry chicken breasts before I realized there was a better way. Enter: chicken thighs. The dark meat cooks up moist and flavorful every time without risk of drying out. 

While they’re great grilled and pan-seared, the absolute most hands-off approach is to bake them. Here, I let the oven do the work. In just 30 minutes, you’re gifted with crispy-skinned chicken that’s swimming in its own rich pan juices. 

How to Bake Chicken Thighs

While chicken thighs really don’t need much more than salt and pepper to be delicious, a few additional ingredients make them extra special. These are tossed with a quick wet rub, which is nothing more than a fancy term for spices that are mixed with a little oil to help them adhere to the meat and soak in. 

Garlic powder, smoked paprika, lemon zest, salt, and pepper make up the rub, which is also great on other proteins like salmon fillets and pork chops, and even cauliflower steaks. Plus, the whole dish comes together in the same pan you’ll bake your chicken in, which keeps cleanup to a minimum. 

Since chicken thighs contain more fat than chicken breasts, you don’t have to worry that cooking them at a high temperature will dry them out. In fact, a hot 425ºF oven is ideal for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, especially because it helps ensure the skin will turn golden-brown and crisp up. 

Best Type of Chicken Thighs for Baking

This recipe calls for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, but feel free to reach for boneless, skinless chicken thighs if you prefer. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs will take less time to cook, so start checking them at around the 15- to 20-minute mark.

How to Serve Baked Chicken Thighs

Since you’ll have plenty of savory pan juices, serve this chicken with something to soak it up. Here are a few I like:

How to Cook Chicken Thighs Recipe

A quick garlicky rub is the secret to making the easiest, most flavorful chicken thighs.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 35 minutes

Serves 4-8

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium lemon

  • 3 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon

    smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 8

    bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds total)

  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)


  • 9x13-inch baking dish

  • Knife

  • Measuring spoons

  • Microplane

  • Instant-read thermometer


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  1. Heat the oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425ºF.

  2. Prepare the wet rub. Finely grate the zest of 1 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) into a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine.

  3. Toss the chicken with the wet rub. Pat 8 bone-in chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Add to the baking dish and toss to coat completely in the seasoned oil. Arrange skin-side up, spaced evenly apart.

  4. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken. Halve the zested lemon. Squeeze the juice from one half over the chicken. Reserve the other half.

  5. Roast the chicken thighs. Roast until the chicken is browned, cooked through, and registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part not touching bone, 25 to 35 minutes. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lemon half over the chicken. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley leaves if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.