Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic [gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, and paleo]

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser

“I can actually eat all of this stuff.”

That’s one of the greatest compliments in cooking for me. It’s become an unexpected joy to watch someone breath a sigh of relief as they fill their plate.

We live in a crazy food world these days. Thankfully, my family doesn’t have any serious food allergies or aversions. But I’ve discovered that learning how to cook meals that fit a variety of dietary restrictions is a great way to show hospitality. We can argue all day and night about what we think each other should eat, and many of those conversations are valid and necessary. I have plenty of my own (very strong) opinions. But whether you’re paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan, keto, just plain picky, or you eat anything set in front of you, we get to practice loving our neighbor and those at our tables through the way we cook. That doesn’t always have to be a chore. It can be a joy.

This chicken dinner recipe is a simple one with a short ingredient list that fits a variety of diets. Serve the chicken thighs with roasted asparagus, a green salad, or your favorite vegetable for an easy weeknight meal. It’s simple and nourishing for (almost) everyone at your table. (Sorry, vegans. You are loved, too. Click here for vegan and vegan adaptable recipe ideas.)

Bone-In Chicken

If you’ve baked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, you know that it can be minutes before the chicken goes from perfect to dry as the desert. While I still enjoy that cut of chicken, bone-in chicken is definitely more forgiving. The darker meat has incredible flavor and cooking bone-in, skin-on cuts keeps the meat from drying out.

Ingredients for Baked Chicken Thighs

Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
Olive oil
Garlic
Lemon zest
Fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Baking powder (optional)

Why Baking Powder?

This is a trick I learned from Cook’s Illustrated to make skin-on chicken extra crispy! Ideally, you pat the chicken dry and let a mix of baking powder and salt sit on the chicken overnight. But with three little kiddos running around my house, I never think that far in advance!

However, I tested the baking powder trick without letting it sit overnight. I simply added it to the mix of garlic, lemon zest, thyme, and salt. I made a second batch without the baking powder to see if I saw a difference, and even though I didn’t leave the baking powder on overnight like Cook’s Illustrated recommended, I definitely noticed a difference! Both batches were delicious, but the one with baking powder did have a better, crispier skin.

That being said, most store-bought baking powder includes ingredients like cornstarch. If you’re avoiding grains entirely, you can either make your own grain-free baking powder, or skip it altogether. Just finish the chicken under the broiler for the last couple minutes for extra crispness.

Scroll down for the recipe!

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser
Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic | Sarah J. Hauser

Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon + Garlic
Yields about 4-5 servings

2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder (optional)
Lemon wedges or halves for serving

Take the chicken out of the refrigerator about a half hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim any excess skin off the meat, being sure to leave enough skin to cover the top of each piece.

Thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels (don’t skip this step!). Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the chicken thighs.

Mix together the garlic, lemon zest, thyme, salt, pepper, and baking powder (if using). Rub the mixture evenly on each of the chicken thighs, making sure to get some of it underneath the skin.

Place the chicken on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If you want the skin to crisp up a bit more, turn the oven to broil and cook an additional 2-4 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges. You can also broil or grill lemon halves for a couple minutes just until they get a little bit charred. Squeeze the juice over the baked chicken for the perfect finishing touch of flavor. Enjoy!


This recipe was originally published at Joy-Filled Eats.