These Baked Chicken Thighs pack in garlic flavor, crispy skin, and a super tender, juicy middle! Growing up in Ukraine, my mom always made this healthy chicken thigh recipe and today they “wow” families and guests from around the world!
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Healthy Garlic Baked Chicken Thighs Recipe
I love to have some recipe ‘classics’ I can rely on any time I want that I know taste great and go with everything. This healthy baked chicken thighs recipe is one of those. Whether you have unexpected dinner guests, are drawing a blank on dinner ideas, or just want something that’s fairly hands-off and practically foolproof, these baked chicken thighs are here for you!
Chicken is one of my all-time favorite go-to’s for flavorful, often easy-peasy to prep dishes- which is probably why I have so many chicken recipes to share! Whether you want grilled chicken thighs, Instant Pot whole chicken, or healthy grilled chicken recipe – I have a method for everyone!
Plus, my mom’s oven baked chicken thighs are of a restaurant-quality! And I’m not just saying that because of the source – I swear! In fact, the only thing that I’ve tweaked along the way is dropping the mayo she used to add. Back in the 90s in the former USSR, mayo was everything. These days, I get to stick to a simple seasoning of garlic, salt and pepper, and some fresh herbs – you’ll never miss the mayo, I promise (and you don’t have to worry about anyone who can’t eat dairy!).
Best of all, chicken thighs are usually cheaper to buy than chicken breast and are easier to produce tender, juicy results every single time! Plus, they’re fridge and freezer-friendly, making for a super versatile addition to your weekly meal prep!
- Chicken Thighs: I like to buy organic chicken with outdoor access, whenever possible. You can use bone-in/skin-on or boneless/skin-off chicken thighs. My preference is bone-in and skin on, which helps the meat stay moist and you can always remove it after. Keep reading below for more tips on the best chicken thighs.
- Fresh garlic: Make sure to grate the garlic rather than mince. Grated garlic is more flavorful! Feel free to adjust the amount of garlic based on personal preference.
- Dried herbs: Any dried herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, or rosemary work. Mix them up as well. I’ll often use dill too – I am Ukrainian, after all!
- Salt and pepper: For seasoning, I told you this healthy baked chicken thighs recipe is nice and simple!
- (Optional) Oil: For crispier chicken skin, you can baste the chicken thighs with a little oil before cooking. Use a high-heat cooking oil like avocado oil to avoid smoking. I tend to avoid this as I like how crispy the skin can get following my own cooking method (written below), but this will push it further if you’re not worried about the extra fat/calories!
What Types of Chicken Thighs Are the Best?
Thighs are dark meat thats is naturally more juicy than chicken breasts. Here are the types I have experimented with:
- Bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs: This is my preference. The result is crispy outside with juicy tender meat inside. The skin prevents the thighs from drying out and you can always remove the skin afterward if preferred.
- Boneless and skinless chicken thighs: They turn out less juicy and, let’s be honest, look less appealing. But you can bake them as well, so it’s an option worth mentioning.
- Frozen chicken thighs: You can bake slightly thawed and still frozen chicken. Yes, I have done it a million times and ended up with perfect oven baked chicken thighs. It is a fatty part of the chicken, so it will not dry out in the oven. Add 10-15 minutes to the baking time – just keep an eye on it and the thermometer handy!
How to Cook Baked Chicken Thighs?
- Season the chicken thighs: You can do this tight in a ceramic or glass baking dish. First, pat the chicken dry, then toss to coat the chicken with the seasonings using your hands or tongs.
- Marinate them: Let the chicken stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Toss the chicken again and then arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer skin side up, tucking in the skin underneath. You want things tight – this will help it crisp up more in the oven.
- Bake uncovered: For about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F. Then using a syringe/baster, pour some of the juice over the thighs. For crispier skin, finish the baking process by broiling the chicken for a few minutes until it reaches your desired crispiness.
- Let the baked chicken thighs rest: Remove them from the oven, and let them stand, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the juices to settle. Do not skip this step!
How To Serve
The best thing about a simple baked chicken recipe is that it’s so super versatile, you can pair it with anything – almost anything, anyway! Here are just a few of the ways I like to enjoy these healthy baked bone in chicken thighs.
- Potatoes: Chicken and potatoes are a classic match. Mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes (or sweet potatoes), even a potato hash. Even better, the leftover chicken juices will taste wonderful when poured over the potatoes! To prepare a one-pan dish, check out this recipe for roasted chicken thighs and potatoes.
- Grains: Serve the chicken thighs with plain brown rice or quinoa – or your favorite flavored dish. For example, this black bean quinoa casserole, spinach artichoke quinoa casserole, Tex Mex rice, and beans with zucchini, For a lower carb option, ditch the rice for cauliflower rice instead.
- Veggies: One of the easiest ways to add veggies with your baked chicken, is to use baked veggies; like these roasted brussels sprouts, garlic green beans, roasted asparagus, or roasted cauliflower. In a hurry? Try these Instant Pot steamed vegetables.
- Salad: On days when it’s warmer (or for the chicken leftovers), pairing with a green salad is refreshing and nutritious! I love eating with Ukrainian cucumber and tomato salad, spinach salad, lemony kale salad, or even brussel sprout salad.
In the top photo, I’ve even paired this garlic chicken with cauliflower risotto and it was amazing!! There is also lots of room for turning this into a one-pan dinner like I did with this one pan chicken and potatoes, and chicken and peppers!
Let me introduce you to our Ukrainian spread. More often than not we serve baked chicken with: mashed potatoes because those juices are begging to be poured over a creamy mash. And what is an Eastern European meal without cucumber and tomato salad or sweet lazy pierogi for dessert?!
How to Make Ahead, Store, and Reheat
Make-Ahead: If you need a make-ahead chicken, this recipe is perfect! Just marinate it in all the seasonings for up to 2 days, covered in the refrigerator. Then bake as per the recipe or throw on the grill. Yummmm!
Store: Cooked chicken thighs keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days, covered well.
Reheat: Reheat the chicken in a preheated 375F/190C oven for about 15 minutes. Bone-in chicken will take longer than boneless. You can also add some of the gelatinized chicken juices at the bottom of the pan if you saved them.
You sure can! To extend the shelf life of the baked chicken thighs even further, store them in an airtight container in the freezer for between 4-6 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Whether you want to know how long to bake boneless chicken thighs or bone-in – the most important thing to remember is that the internal temperature must reach 165F/74C. Especially as the thighs can differ in size. Unlike chicken breast, chicken thighs remain pinkish-brown even fully cooked- so the internal temperature is definitely the best way to make sure it is safely cooked through.
To check the temperature, push your thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken- wait several seconds (10-15) for the temperature reading to stabilize.
As a guideline, most chicken thighs (skin-on, bone-in) bake for between 35-40 minutes at 425F/220C.
Increase the baking time by around 5 minutes for every 25F degrees you lose (i.e 400F= 40-45 minutes, 375F= 45-50 minutes, etc. For skin-off, boneless chicken thighs you can usually reduce the baking time by around 10 minutes.
This method already produces fairly crispy baked chicken thighs. For the crispiest results, follow the following tips:
– Don’t overcrowd your pan! If you do, then the chicken ends up steaming and you’ll have soggy results.
– Optionally ‘sear’ the chicken. Sear the chicken skin-side down in a hot pan with a little oil for several minutes (3-5) to form a crispy ‘crust’ before baking. I’ll avoid this step usually to save washing up and less effort!
– Use a little oil – This recipe is oil-free, using just the chicken juices at the end of the baking process for crispy skin. However, you could lightly brush the dry chicken thighs with a little oil before seasoning for even crispier results.
Other Recipe Tips
- Other chicken cuts: This simple seasoning will work just as well with different cuts of chicken; drums, wings, breasts, etc. Just remember that the cooking times will vary based on what cuts you’re using!
- The seasoning: Once you have the method for baked chicken thighs down, then playing around with the seasoning is super fun; add red pepper flakes for spice, your favorite dried herbs, a little mustard for tang, etc.
- Use a rimmed baking sheet: These baked chicken thighs produce a lot of natural juices so you want to use a deep dish to gather all the juices.
- The chicken juices: One of the best things about this baked chicken thighs recipe is all the yummy juices leftover after cooking. Since this uses such a simple seasoning, the juices are perfect for making homemade chicken gravy and other sauces.
More Healthy Chicken Thighs Recipes
- Slow cooker Thai chicken thighs
- Greek chicken
- Healthy fried chicken
- Slow cooker whole chicken and pasta
You might also enjoy browsing through all my healthy chicken recipes!
Baked Chicken Thighs
- In 8 x 8 square baking dish, add chicken thighs, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Using your hands, toss to coat and let stand for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Toss chicken again, making sure to spread garlic and spices evenly, and arrange in a single layer skin side up, tucking in skin underneath. You want things tight.
- Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until thermometer reads at least 165 degrees F, skin starts to brown and lots of juices accumulate in the dish.
- Using a syringe/baster, pour juice over the thighs and then if you like more crispy skin (who doesn’t?!) broil to your likeness.
- Remove from the oven, cover and let stand for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle.
- Serve warm, skin removed for healthier version with brown rice, quinoa or cauliflower risotto. It's a restaurant quality date night dinner.
Store: Cooked chicken thighs keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days. They are perfect for a meal prep and taste amazing cold. Like my grandma's ground chicken burgers, we might sneak one walking by the fridge.
Reheat: In preheated 375 degrees F oven for about 15 minutes. Bone in chicken will take longer than boneless. You can also add some of the gelatinized chicken juices at the bottom of the pan.
- You can use bone in/skin on or boneless/skin off chicken thighs: My preference is bone in and skin on – skin helps meat stay moist and you can always remove it after.
- Fresh garlic: Make sure to grate garlic rather than mince. Grated garlic is more flavorful.
- You can bake slightly thawed and still frozen chicken thighs: Add 10-15 minutes to baking time and keep your eye on them.
- Dried herbs: Mix them up, use what you have. If it’s summer, use fresh herbs from your garden.
- One pan dinner: Check out my roasted chicken thighs and potatoes.
- Make ahead: This recipe is perfect! Just marinate meat in all seasonings for up to 2 days. Then bake as per recipe or even grill.
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