Best baked chicken thighs recipe is about to happen right here today! Tender, juicy chicken, coated in a bold, flavor-packed chicken rub, and quickly baked in a high-heated oven. Be sure to check out my tips and video below.
I've said this before, but you can not go wrong with chicken thighs. They are convenient, affordable, and forgiving--you don't have to watch the pan like hawk to get good results.
What I love about these oven baked chicken thighs
This is chicken thighs recipe I can totally get behind. First, it's easy to make in just one pan or baking dish. It is also the juiciest baked chicken recipe you'll try. Every bite is tender and succulent, it is hard to stop eating!
The star of this recipe tough is the bold chicken rub made of a few pantry staples including tomato paste, fresh garlic, and a few warm spices including cumin and smoked paprika (or sweet paprika, if you prefer).
The rub gives the chicken thighs a beautiful, mouth-watering color AND quickly infuses them with big smoky, warm flavors without the need to marinate! That's right, you do not need to budget time for the chicken to marinate, once you coat the pieces with the rub, you can stick them right in the oven to bake!
The chicken rub
Here is what you need to make the rub:
- Tomato paste: this is where the beautiful mouth-watering color on your chicken will come from. Tomato paste is also a great way to add some umami. I used 5 tablespoons of tomato paste.
- A good extra virgin olive oil. EVOO here will add depth and richness to the chicken rub and will make it easily spreadable (you want to make sure to get that rub evenly all over the chicken). A good-tasting oil can make all the difference here too, and you only need ⅓ cup (the oils I use are available at our online shop here).
- Citrus. I used juice of 1 lemon for brightness and a bit of tang.
- Garlic. My preference for this is fresh garlic, I used 4 large garlic cloves, minced (not shy with our garlic over here. It is all the flavor!)
- Spices: 1 teaspoon of each dried oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper. I love the smoky, warm, and rich tones the combination of these four spices provide. You can also try sweet paprika, in place of the smoked. And if you like a little spicy kick, you can add a pinch of cayenne or a bit of Aleppo-style pepper to the rub.
How to cook chicken thighs in the oven
This delicious oven baked chicken thigh recipe will quickly become your go-to, and it takes just a few simple steps (the print-friendly recipe is just below):
- Season the chicken well with kosher salt
Pat 8 chicken thighs dry. When you season, make sure to apply kosher salt on both sides of the chicken pieces and also underneath the skin. Because many of us do not eat the skin, it is important to apply the seasoning underneath the skin. Set the chicken aside for a little bit while you prepare the rub.
- Make the chicken rub
To make this wet rub, combine 5 tablespoons of tomato paste, ⅓ cup good extra virgin olive oil, and juice of 1 lemon. Add 4 minced garlic cloves, and 1 teaspoon each dry oregano, smoked paprika, cumin, and black pepper. Mix well. The rub will be thick but spreadable.
- Apply the rub to the chicken
Like you did with the salt, apply the rub all over the chicken pieces, making sure you get underneath the skins for best flavor.
- Assemble and bake
Lightly brush the bottom of a large 9" x 13" baking dish with olive oil. Arrange some onion slices on the bottom of the dish to act as a bed for your chicken. Arrange the chicken on top of the onions.
And for fun, insert some onion and tomato slices between the arranged chicken thighs (as the chicken cooks, the tomatoes and onions will release some juices, imparting even more flavor)!
Bake on the middle rack of a 425 degrees F heated-oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through. I like to put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get golden brown crispy skins.
How long to cook chicken thighs?
In a higher heated oven set at 400 to 425 degrees F, baked chicken thighs will cook in about 40 minutes or so. The chicken is done when its juices run clear and skins gain a nice golden brown color. To be sure, use an instant read thermometer to determine if your chicken is ready; the internal temperature of the cooked chicken should register at 165 degrees F at the thickest part.
Do you need to flip the chicken thighs over when baking?
I do not flip the thighs over for this baked chicken recipe, you do not need to. It is baked uncovered, and so the skin on the chicken thigh should gain some good color as they bake. And If you find that the skins need more color, it's not a bad idea to use the broiler for a minute or two.
Can I make this with chicken breasts instead?
Yes, you absolutely can try baked chicken breast instead. Adjust the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Watch closely as chicken breasts can dry out if left too long. Use the broiler briefly if the skins need a little more color. Again, the internal temperature of cooked chicken should register at 165 degrees F at the thickest part.
How to reheat chicken without drying out?
If you have leftover baked chicken thighs, they should be stored in the fridge in a tight-lid glass container. They will keep well for 3 to 4 nights.
To reheat chicken, I like to use the oven set on a medium temperature like 325 degrees F. If you need to, add a little bit of liquid to the pan (water or broth) then cover with foil and heat until warmed through.
Tools & supplies for this recipe
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Juiciest Baked Chicken Thighs Recipe
- 8 chicken thighs, bone in, and leave the skin on but trim excess fat
- Kosher Salt
- 3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 vine ripe tomato, sliced into rounds
- For the chicken rub
- 5 tablespoons tomato paste
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Season the chicken thighs with kosher salt on both sides and underneath the skins. Set aside briefly.
- Make the rub. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the rub ingredients. Whisk until everything is well-incorporated.
- Rub the chicken with the tomato rub on both sides, applying underneath the skins first.
- Prepare a 9" X 13" baking dish. Brush the bottom of the dish with extra virgin olive oil. Arrange most of the sliced onions on the bottom. Arrange the chicken on top of the onions. Now add the rest of the onions and the sliced tomatoes between the chicken thighs. Pour in about ¼ cup of water from the sides of the baking dish.
- Bake in the middle of your heated rack for 40 minutes or so, then, for crispy colored skin, put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes (watch carefully).
- Leftovers & Storage: bring any leftover baked chicken thighs to room temperature then store in the fridge in a tight-lid container. If properly stored, they should keep well for 3 to 4 nights.
- To make this with chicken breasts instead: use bone in, skin on breasts. Adjust the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and cook for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the juices run clear (internal temperature should be 165 degrees). Watch carefully because chicken breasts do tend to dry out, so make sure to get them out of the oven as soon as they are done.
- Visit our online shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices used in this recipe.