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.
And you can really play up the flavor, from cilantro lime chicken to Greek chicken, chicken cacciatore, baharat chicken, and today's oven baked chicken thighs, which is one of my personal favorites!
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
- 9" x 13" baking dish
- Browse our online shop for olive oils and spices used in this recipe
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Browse more chicken recipes. You may also enjoy 50+ Top Mediterranean diet recipes. For all recipes, visit us here.
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.
Incredible flavors! Highly recommend this recipe. I paired it with Yams. I doubled the dry spice recipe and used the “second half” to spice the Yams, tossed in EVOO. So delicious!
Aw man!! That was so quick, easy & delicious! I love my food but this is the first time I've left a comment on any recipe.
Looking forward to trying more of yours!
This recipe is amazing...
Cut rub in half for 4 thighs.
I substituted concentrated lemon juice,
Doubled the smoked paprika, and added
1 tsp. onion powder and 1 tsp. Sea salt for the rub. Did not need to use the broiler to brown.
Marinated in the rub for 4 hrs in a zip lock. No salt post marinade. Used Vidalia onions and cherry tomatoes.
Thanks for taking the time to share your process, Sherman.
Turned out great! Husband and kids loved it. Can’t wait to try out more recipes! Thank you!
I loved this recipe. I am going to try a lot of the others since I am now trying the Mediterranean diet.
I can see what this should be but the salt made it inedible.
Such a shame because the other flavours are great.
Can you use skinless and boneless chicken thighs? Can you use skinless and boneless chicken breasts?
Yes and yes :).
One of the best chicken recipes I have ever tried. Followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. And I don’t even usually eat chicken thighs. Thank you.
So glad you enjoyed it, Nada!
I loved this recipe with chicken thighs. I am recently knew to cooking actual meals.
Directions are easy to follow for someone who used to ruin meals. Family and I weren't fans using the recipe with chicken breast. I also might have used an early harvest olive oil too....so for me personally love this recipe just as directed :).
Absolutely delicious. My guests declared it excellent. Juicy, tasty, colorful and the onions and tomatoes really added to the flavor. Easy to assemble in advance, then just cook! I have never been disappointed by any of this sites recipes. But this one is exceptional. Thx!!
Thanks so much, Jo Anne!
Made this for dinner tonight. Another super easy and delish dish from Suzy!
Love all your recipes!! Can I use boneless skinless thighs and make it the same way? Thank you!
Hi, Patty! Sure! That will work just fine. You can use the same oven temperature, but boneless, skinless chicken thighs will cook quicker, so keep an eye on them. I recommend using a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature of the thighs. They're finished cooking when the temperature reads 165°F.
This recipe is great. I used skinless thighs and pan fried them on stainless without oil first. Some spices are hard to find right now. Then I used Rotel tomatoes instead of paste.
Thanks for sharing your adaptations, Dorothy!
I’ve made this recipe several times and always loved it. This time I used your Greek Olive Oil and oh my goodness, the flavor was out of this world! Your olive oils are pure gold. Thank you for the best recipes with the best ingredients.
Thank you so much, Laurie!