Baked chicken thighs are easy to make and delicious to eat. You can use a few simple spices to flavor them making them tasting like you have a fancy meal.
Our chicken thigh recipe makes for a good and quick dinner for the family, along with some roasted veggies and a green salad, and you have a well-balanced, nutritious meal everyone will love.
Baked chicken thighs are one of my family’s favorites. We all love dark meat because it’s moister than white meat and unfortunately there are only 2 thighs per chicken. The combination of crispy skin and juicy meat is hard to beat!
So instead of roasting a whole chicken, now I just buy a bunch of thighs and bake them all on a tray, so now there is no fighting over who gets them thighs and we can all have as many as we want.
We are going to show you how to make our bone-in chicken thigh recipe in the oven, and you’ll be making them as much as we do. It might even be better than our famous Baked Chicken Drumsticks recipe!
Best Way to Cook Chicken Thighs
Hands down, chicken thighs are the Cadillac of chicken pieces and baking is the best way to cook them.
Dark meat is more tender and juicy than white meat, and when you bake them they stay juicy and have a lot of flavor.
You can make them taste great with just a few simple spices from your kitchen covering their crispy skin. They are so easy to bake, and if you follow the directions they are perfect every time. So let’s show you all the steps and helpful tips on how to cook chicken thighs.
What Ingredients are in Oven Baked Chicken Thighs?
- Chicken Thighs – This is the upper, more meaty part of the leg, with the skin.
- Salt – This spice enhances the flavor of the thighs.
- Pepper – Black pepper which will give the baked chicken thighs a slight kick.
- Garlic Powder – A delicious spice that gives chicken thighs good flavor.
- Onion Powder – Onions are another favorite flavor for chicken.
- Paprika – Regular paprika, or smoked paprika if you like a smokey taste.
- Italian Seasoning – A combo of several spices that are not just good on “Italian” foods.
- Olive Oil – This makes a good coating to hold on to the spices and crisp up the skin on the oven-baked chicken thighs.
Boneless vs Bone-In Chicken Thighs
When you buy chicken thighs you can buy them either with bones or boneless. Here are the main characteristics of each one:
Bone-In Chicken Thighs:
- Comes with bones and skin.
- Stays juicier because of the skin on top.
- The skin gets crispy and tasty.
Boneless Chicken Thighs:
- Comes without bones or skin.
- Cooks faster.
- Can remove the bones yourself and leave the skin on so you can still enjoy the crispy skin.
In this recipe we are using the bone-in chicken thighs with skin because when we crisp up the seasoned skin, in my opinion, that is the best part.
How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Oven
You may ask, “How long does it take to cook chicken thighs in the oven?” The answer is very simple and depends on what temperature you cook them at.
When I make oven-baked chicken thighs I like to stick them in the oven at 400 or 425 degrees because they cook the fastest at that temperature and I like the skin to be as crispy as possible.
Here is a cooking time chart for chicken thighs to give you some other options:
- 325 degrees for 40 minutes
- 350 degrees for 35 minutes
- 375 degrees for 30 minutes
- 400 degrees for 25 minutes
- 425 degrees for 20 minutes
Chicken Thigh Internal Temperature
What Temp Do Chicken Thighs Need to be Cooked to?
Crispy chicken thighs are safe to eat once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees fahrenheit on the thermometer.
Use a Thermometer
Using a thermometer is the only real and accurate way to make sure that your chicken thighs are cooked thoroughly. Otherwise, it’s just a guessing game that can cause undercooked or overcooked chicken thighs.
In order to get an accurate reading just stick the thermometer in the chicken at its thickest point but also make sure that it is not touching the bone or else the reading will be off.
Is It Ok if Chicken Thighs are a Little Pink?
Pink chicken is safe to eat if it has reached the right temperature on the thermometer. If you get a temperature of 165 degrees or more in the thickest part of the chicken but the thigh meat is a little pink, it is safe to eat.
Why are My Chicken Thighs Bleeding?
Chickens are sometimes rushed to the slaughter at a very young age, 6-8 weeks old. They may seem fully grown to the chicken farmers but their young bones have not fully calcified yet. This makes the bone mass very porous which causes the pigment from the bone marrow to come to the surface and can often be seen near the bone.
Bleeding chicken is quite different from pink chicken. Blood running out of your chicken piece is not very appetizing at all so my motto is when in doubt, throw it out.
How to Prepare Chicken Thighs
Now, let’s show you step by step how to prepare the chicken thighs before baking them in the oven.
Should You Wash Chicken with Water?
It is not recommended to wash your chicken, because when you do the chicken germs splash in your sink and on the counters, which is counterproductive. It is better to bake the chicken without washing it.
When you bake chicken thighs on high heat, this will get rid of any germs that you may be worried about.
Pat Chicken Thighs Dry
Drying off the chicken is a simple step but at the same time a necessary one before cooking chicken thighs. This is what helps them come out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Moisture creates steam while baking, which will make it harder to end up with crispy skin.
- Just take some paper towels and pat the chicken thighs dry which will make it easier for the oil to stick and soak into the thighs.
Season the Chicken
Once the thighs have been dried off, now it’s time to put olive oil or melted butter all over each piece to coat them.
- Mix the pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and Italian seasoning together in a small bowl.
- Place the chicken thighs in a bowl once coat them thoroughly with olive oil.
- Using a spoon, add the spices to the chicken with the desired spices. Use a spoon to cover the chicken pieces with the seasoning thoroughly on all sides.
How to Cook Bake Chicken Thighs in the Oven
Now that you have completed the first steps of this baked chicken thigh recipe, it’s time to learn how to bake the chicken thighs in the oven.
STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 400-425 degrees in order to bake chicken thighs.
STEP 2: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Place a wire rack about the same size as the tray, on top of the foil. The parchment paper makes for an easier clean-up because the oil and grease from the chicken thighs will drip off during the baking process.
STEP 3: Layout your prepared pieces of chicken one at a time on the rack, spacing them apart so that they are not touching one another, because you need the air to circulate totally around them so that they will crisp up. Make sure to place them skin side up in order to achieve crispy oven-baked chicken!
STEP 4: Place the thighs in the middle of the oven for a more even airflow around the tray and to also help the chicken thighs crisp up.
STEP 5: Bake for about 25 minutes. The only true way to know how long to bake chicken thighs for is to use a thermometer. Make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken thighs reaches 165 degrees.
STEP 6: When the chicken thighs in the oven are done baking, let them rest for 5 minutes.
STEP 7: Remove the crispy chicken thighs from the rack and serve on a plate.
How Do You Know When Chicken Thighs are Cooked?
Only by using a thermometer that gets inserted into the piece, will you be able to know how long to bake the chicken thighs for.
You can set a timer but the only completely accurate way to know if the roasted chicken thighs are cooked is if the thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
Resting Baked Chicken
All meat continues to cook a little bit longer when you take it out of the oven and let it rest. The main reason that recipes call for meat to rest is that when you do, even for just a few minutes, the juices get absorbed into the meat which in turn keeps it juicy.
If you cut into it right away instead of waiting a few minutes the juices come running out and it’s tenderness becomes lost.
How Do You Keep Chicken Thighs from Drying Out in the Oven?
Oven-roasted chicken thighs will dry out if you overcook them, so the best thing to do when baking chicken thighs is to set the timer for the appropriate time and then check them for doneness with a thermometer to make sure it is at 165 degrees.
Baking the chicken thighs for about 30 minutes will do the trick so don’t overcook them.
The Secret to Crispy Skin
- The first thing that you need to do to make sure that the chicken thigh skin gets crispy is to pat the pieces dry before seasoning it up. If there is any water on the skin then it won’t crisp up.
- By elevating the chicken pieces up onto a baking rack, the air will be able to circulate underneath the thighs in the oven for a more even cooking, and crispy skin.
- Cook with high heat, 400-425 degrees.
- Brushing the chicken thighs with olive oil or melted butter will also help to crisp them up.
- If the chicken is done cooking but the skin is not as crispy as you want it to be, then stick it under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, but be careful not to burn it. After all, you want to make the best oven-baked chicken thighs not burnt chicken thighs!!!
Best Tips for Baked Chicken Thighs
Now we are going to share with you some of the tips that we have found to make the best baked chicken thighs recipe.
- For crispy baked chicken thighs be sure to dry the chicken first before seasoning it.
- Coat the thighs in oil which will hold the spices on better and also help to make the skin crispy.
- Lift up the skin and season it underneath too.
- If you use lemon juice to make a marinade, you will also need to add olive oil. The combo of the 2 together will make your baked chicken thighs more tender and juicy, whereas lemon juice alone is an acid and will make them tough.
- For an easy clean-up, line the bottom of the baking tray with foil or parchment paper then place the wire rack on top of that.
- Don’t forget to use a thermometer to avoid under or overcooking the oven-baked chicken thighs. Make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- If you want the oven-roasted chicken thighs extra crispy, when they are done baking then stick them under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, but be careful not to burn them.
What to Serve with Chicken Thighs?
There are so many things that you can eat with crispy baked chicken thighs. Here are a few suggestions:
- Creamed Spinach
- Onion Rings
- Fried Zucchini
- Fresh-tossed Green Salad
- Cauliflower Rice
- Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Potatoes
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Veggies (Brussel Sprouts, Broccoli, etc)
- Spaghetti Squash
When making the chicken thighs recipe, you can flavor them in so many ways, and here are a few ideas:
- Chili powder, cajun, or cayenne for spicy chicken
- Smoked Paprika (for a smokey taste)
- Lemon or Lemon Pepper
Cooking Boneless Thighs
Even though this is primarily a bone-in chicken thighs recipe, you may also use it to cook boneless chicken thighs. They are easy to cook and because they do not have a bone in the center, only cook them in the oven for about half the time as our baked chicken thigh recipe.
To cook boneless thighs, follow the same preparation and seasoning steps in this recipe. Also do not forget to use your thermometer to make sure not to over or undercook the boneless thighs.
From my experience, if you are going to make oven-roasted boneless thighs, then make sure to use the kind that still has the skin on them. If they do not have skin on them they can dry out, plus it’s the skin that ends up getting crispy.
If you can’t find any in the store that still has the skin on them, it’s not too difficult to take out the bones yourself, but if you feel nervous about that then ask the butcher at your store to do it for you.
Should I Cut the Fat off Chicken Thighs?
If your chicken thighs have some extra fat on them, it’s ok to leave it on. You may not usually like chicken fat, but some fat on the chicken is good because when they cook long enough, the fat will render out and in turn, they will form a crispy, crunchy crust.
Is it Better to Cook Chicken Slow or Fast?
You can cook chicken slow or fast, but for the best roast chicken thighs, I like to cook them at a higher temperature, 400-425 degrees so that the baked chicken skin will be crispy.
That’s my favorite part of the baked chicken thighs because it’s the closest thing to fried chicken, without actually frying it!
Do I HAVE to Use Chicken Thighs for this Recipe?
Chicken thighs are not the only type to use to make crispy oven-baked chicken. You can also make oven-baked drumsticks and chicken breasts with the skin on too.
Also, a whole roasted chicken can be a nice crispy treat too as long as you know how long to bake the chicken.
Can I Unroll Chicken Thighs?
Yes, you can unroll boneless chicken thighs so that they lay flat. This will help them to cook more quickly and evenly, which may appeal to people who usually eat white meat and who stay away from eating dark meat.
Should I Cook Chicken Thighs Skin Up or Down?
You should always make baked chicken thighs with the skin side up. That is the only way to ensure that the skin will get crispy. The fat drips off of it and then allows the skin to crisp up.
Can You Cook Vegetables in the Same Pan with Chicken?
Vegetables can be cooked in the same pan with chicken but only if there is enough room on the pan without crowding the thighs.
In this recipe we don’t recommend it however, because we are using a baking rack. You have to factor in with all the holes in the rack, the veggies will fall through the and into all of the grease that has dripped off of the chicken thighs and onto the foil.
In my opinion, I prefer my veggies to be cooked in a separate pan either in the oven or on top of the stove.
Do You Cover Chicken Thighs When Baking in the Oven?
There are times that recipes call for the chicken to be covered while baking in the oven, but if you want the skin to get crispy, then don’t cover them.
Covering chicken while baking it will give you steamed chicken instead of crispy baked chicken thighs.
Can You Overcook Chicken Thighs?
It’s easy to overcook oven-roasted chicken thighs so it’s important to know how long to cook them. The longer they cook past 165 degrees, the more moisture bakes out of them and they will become hard and dried out.
How Do Restaurants Make Chicken So Tender?
Did you ever go to a Chinese restaurant and notice how tender the chicken is? Well, there is a reason for it and it has to do with the advanced preparation before cooking it.
This tenderizing action is called velveting. You do this by adding baking soda to the chicken and toss. After about 20 minutes rinse it off and then dry it. Then cook according to your favorite recipe.
The chicken will not have any flavor from the baking soda. It just helps to break down the chicken fibers to soften the meat.
Make-Ahead and Storing Options
I love it when I am busy and rushed and can do some food prep the day or night before.
Making Ahead: Season the chicken thighs up to a day ahead, and then when you are ready to bake them it will only take a few minutes to do so. While they are baking you can throw a vegetable in the oven or saute it on the stove.
You can also whip up a nice tossed green salad while the chicken thighs in the oven are cooking, which will give you a quick weeknight meal after working all day.
Storing leftovers: Leftover chicken thighs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days when kept in an airtight plastic container.
How to Reheat Chicken without Drying it Out?
In the Oven – Your leftover roasted chicken thighs will not be as crispy the next day as they were when you first made them, but they will be just as tasty. You can put them on a baking tray or oven-safe dish and cover them with foil so that they will not dry out.
- Bake them for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
Under the Broiler – You can also heat up the previously baked thighs under the broiler. Make sure not to put the thighs too close to the heat otherwise they will burn on the outside and still be cold on the inside. If you broil them slowly then they will heat on the inside and crisp up again on the outside.
In the Microwave – This is the quickest way to heat up your baked chicken thighs. Place them on a plate and then place a paper towel over the top. It should only take 1-2 minutes to end up with hot chicken thighs!!
How to Freeze Chicken Thighs?
Freezing is a great way to keep your roasted chicken thighs fresh, as long as you wrap them properly. Write the date on the container so that you can use them before they spoil.
Freezing raw chicken thighs: Wrap your raw chicken thighs in freezer paper and then double protect it by putting them into a Ziploc freezer bag. They will stay fresh for at least 6 months or even longer.
Freezing cooked chicken thighs: Leftover oven-baked chicken thighs can also be stored in the freezer, as long as you wrap them properly to keep the air out. Wrap them in freezer paper and then double up the protection by putting them in a Ziploc bag.
Or you could also put them in an airtight plastic container and then in a Ziploc bag. They will stay fresh for 3 months.
What to Do with Leftovers?
I love leftovers….It’s so rewarding after putting forth the time to make a recipe that you can reap the benefits of your labor another day. If you have leftover baked chicken thighs they can be used in various ways:
- Chicken Salad
- Pot Pie
- Chicken Caesar Salad
Chicken Thigh Nutrition
Chicken in general is considered a lean choice of meat. Everyone knows that the white meat chicken is the leanest, but don’t underestimate the dark meat of the chicken legs. They are still lean and a great choice when you are on a diet.
Cooking chicken thighs in the oven is a healthy way to cook them. They are a good source of essential amino acids, along with several important vitamins and minerals.
They are a good choice for a low carb diet and also for Whole 30 and Paleo as long as you use olive oil to coat them instead of butter.
A baked chicken thigh has about 225-250 calories, with 20+ grams of protein, depending on their size.
Tools to Use
- Baking Sheet – To bake the chicken on.
- Foil or Parchment Paper – To line the baking sheet to make for easy cleanup.
- Wire Rack – So that you can elevate the chicken thighs for the air to circulate evenly around to make the chicken crispy.
More Easy Chicken Recipes
If you are looking for more dinner ideas please check out some of our other delicious chicken recipes:
- Instant Pot Chicken Thighs
- Baked Chicken Drumsticks
- Everything Bagel Chicken Tenders
- Keto Chicken Parmesan
- Buffalo Chicken Wings
- Tandoori Chicken Wraps
All of them are easy to make and will have your friends and family raving!Print
Baked chicken thighs are easy to make and delicious to eat. They make a good and quick weeknight dinner for the family because of the juicy meat and the crispy skin. Make some roasted veggies and a green tossed salad and you have a very healthy meal.
- 8 chicken thighs (approx 7 oz per thigh)
- ½ tsp pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Preparing & Seasoning the Chicken:
- Lay the chicken out on a plate or tray. Take some paper towels and pat the chicken legs until it’s completely dry.
- Mix up the spices together. Get a small bowl and spoon, then add all of the spices and blend them together thoroughly.
- Rub olive oil, or melted butter if you prefer, all over the chicken thighs.
- Take the spices and spoon them all over the chicken thighs on all sides until well covered.
Baking in the Oven:
- Preheat the oven to 400-425 degrees.
- Line a baking tray with a piece of foil or parchment paper which will make for an easier clean up as the oil and grease from the baked chicken thighs drip off during the baking process.
- Next, place a wire rack about the same size as the tray, on top of the foil.
- Layout your prepared pieces of chicken one at a time on the rack, spacing them apart so that they are not touching one another, because you need the air to circulate totally around them so that they will crisp up.
- Place them in the middle of the oven for a more even airflow around the tray to also help the chicken pieces to crisp up.
- Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Make sure that the chicken legs reach 165 degrees. The only true way to know how long to bake the chicken thighs is to use a thermometer.
- When the chicken thighs are done baking, let them rest for 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the rack and serve them on a platter or plate.
Make sure to dry the moisture off your chicken thighs well before seasoning them. This is an important step to ensure that you will end up with crispy chicken.
Line the baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for an easy clean up afterwards. But one word of caution, if you plan to broil the chicken thighs for a couple minutes after baking them for an extra crispiness, don’t do it with the parchment paper underneath because it will burn. Instead use foil.
Lift the chicken skin to also season underneath it.
For juicy chicken be sure not to bake your chicken thighs past 165 degrees or else they will begin to dry out.
Storing: Leftover chicken can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days if you keep it in an airtight container.
Reheating: Heat the leftover chicken in the oven in a covered baking dish for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees. In the microwave for 1-2 minutes in a microwave safe dish covered with a paper towel.
Freezing: Raw chicken thighs can be frozen by wrapping them tightly in freezer paper and then put into a plastic bag. Cooked chicken thighs can also be frozen by putting them in an airtight plastic container and then put the container into a plastic bag for added protection.
1.1 NET CARBS Per Serving
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Main Courses
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
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