Oven roasted chicken thighs—the recipe that changed my life.
It’s simple. No fancy equipment needed; just an oven and a baking sheet. Salt and pepper gives you plenty of seasoning.
It’s easy. Once the chicken is in the oven, you have around half an hour to do basically whatever you like. I can answer emails, clean some dishes, and finish cooking a vegetable dish by the time the chicken is ready. Oh, and clean up is a breeze—just toss the aluminum foil that lined the sheet pan and you’re done!
It’s versatile. Want a classic herbal flavor? Add rosemary and lemon. Asian? Add soy sauce, sugar, and ginger. Hispanic? Add chili powder and cilantro. Want to make another type of meat? Just adjust the oven time to cook chicken thighs, drumsticks, and breast; pork chops, tenderloin, and shoulder; beef roasts, salmon fillets, and whole mackerel.
It’s cheap (at the time of this writing). Bone-in chicken thighs often go for one to two dollars a pound. Enough said.
A useful rule of thumb: prepare half a pound of meat per portion. Since this recipe uses bone-in thighs, you’ll probably need about 0.75 lbs of bone-in thighs (about two thighs) to get 0.5 lbs of meat per portion.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make a lot at once. I typically buy a 4 lb pack of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs and cook them all at once on a single 18×13″ baking sheet. This recipe’s portion sizes are easy to adjust—feel free to double or halve the amount of meat and seasoning without changing the cooking time.
Yield: 5 servings
Cost per serving: $1-2 (wow!)
Total cook time per serving: 9 minutes (wow!!)
Total cook time (including cleaning): 45 minutes
Active prep time: 5 minutes
Non-active bake time: 35 minutes
Clean time: 5 minutes
4 pounds chicken thighs (about 10 thighs)
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (cooking oils, such as canola and olive oil, work well too)
4 tsp salt
4 tsp black pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Lay chicken thighs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.
- Rub top and bottom of chicken with oil, salt, and pepper.
- Once oven is preheated, bake chicken for 35 minutes, until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a fork. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the chicken is done when it measures 165˚F in its thickest part.
Nothing to wash; just toss the aluminum foil covering the baking sheet.
(Sometimes the unthinkable happens: the chicken juices get onto the baking sheet and I have one baking sheet to wash.)
Chicken tastes great with all kinds of seasonings and marinades. I encourage you to experiment and find out what you personally like! I’ll leave suggestions to get you started below.
Here’s an example of this recipe using a store-bought teriyaki sauce.
I found trays of bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and thighs on sale for $0.99 a pound at Safeway so I snapped up a few packs. Drumsticks and thighs cook at about the same rate in the oven, so don’t be shy about cooking them together.
I really like this teriyaki sauce—it’s flavorful without being too sweet or salty. No, Kikkoman didn’t pay me to write that. (A Kikkoman representative will reach out any day now, I’m sure of it.)
I like using gallon Ziploc bags to marinade meat. It distributes the sauce more evenly than using a large bowl and saves me from having to wash anything. See how one 4 lb pack of chicken fits perfectly in the bag?
I usually marinade meat for as long as I can, up to a day. If you don’t have time to marinade, coat with sauce before making and add more sauce after baking. One pack of chicken also happens to perfectly fit a 18×13″ sheet pan—yet more evidence for the miracle that is chicken.
I have a cheap instant-read thermometer from Amazon that I use on a daily basis. (A ThermoWorks representative will reach out any day now, I’m sure of it.) More on equipment soon, but a thermometer is a must-get for any cook looking to maximize taste from simple ingredients. At 165˚F, the chicken is done. You’ll see a pan of bok choy in the back; I had plenty of time to make the bok choy while the chicken was baking.
This version of the recipe has literally two ingredients yet produces enough flavor to make me salivate. When cooked properly, the chicken nearly melts in your mouth!
As I mentioned, this recipe has tons of variations. Really, it’s more of a technique than a recipe: take large pieces of meat, season, and roast. Here are some of my favorite seasonings for chicken:
- Teriyaki sauce
- Rosemary (or sage, or thyme) and lemon
- White miso, sugar, and a bit of butter
- Soy sauce, sugar, and five spice powder
- Garlic powder, chili powder, and lime
Get to the grocery store, pick up a pack of chicken, and make this today! It just might convince to cook regularly, as it did for me. As always, let me know what you think by leaving a comment.