One of my favorite meals is a simple oven-roasted lemon pepper chicken with air-fried broccoli and rice. My kids absolutely love it and always eat a good portion size. So whenever I feel like we indulge in too many sweets and convenience food for days, I cook a simple, wholesome meal like this lemon pepper chicken to reset our meal routine.
I used to cook this dish with store-bought lemon pepper seasoning until I ran out of it one day. I had the chicken thighs defrosted and ready to cook, so I had to figure out a substitute with whatever I had in the kitchen. I decided to use fresh lemon zest and couldn’t be happier with the result. I always thought that funky stale smell with store-bought lemon pepper seasoning made the flavor somewhat artificial. With fresh lemon zest and freshly ground pepper, the artificial taste is gone, and you get wonderfully fresh aromatic flavors.
This recipe works with skin-on and skin-less chicken thighs
You can use the same process for either type of chicken thighs. The marinating process is the same.
For bone-in/skin-on chicken thighs, bake the chicken for about 40 minutes at 400 F.
For bone-less/skin-less chicken thighs, bake the chicken for about 25 minutes at 425 F.
Are you new to cooking chicken and worried if the chicken isn’t cooked through? When I first learned to cook, I was tempted to overcook the poultry to be safe. However, overcooked, dry chicken is just not worth it. I recommend getting a meat thermometer if you don’t have one in your kitchen. The thickest part of the chicken should register 165 F or above.
Season chicken ahead of time for best flavors
Marinate the chicken 6 to 24 hours ahead of baking. It allows time for the salt to get absorbed into the chicken meat. Also, by marinating the chicken ahead of time, dinner becomes a breeze!
Try these spinach chicken rice balls if you have any leftovers.
Simple Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs
Simple doesn't mean it's bland. Simple but delicious lemon pepper chicken.
- 3 lb chicken thighs
- Juice and zest from 3 lemons
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp pepper
Place oven rack in the middle and preheat to 425 F for skin-less/bone-less chicken thighs. Preheat to 400 F for skin-on/bone-in chicken thighs.
In a small bowl, zest the lemons using a microplane. Mix in salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix lemon juice and olive oil.
Brush the lemon juice/oil mixture on the chicken on all sides. Rub the lemon zest mixture all over the chicken. If prepping ahead, cover the chicken and refrigerate up to 24 hours.
Place the chicken thighs on a parchment or foil-lined sheet pan.
For skin-less/bone-less chicken thighs, bake for 25 minutes. For skin-on/bone-in chicken thighs, bake for 40 min or until chicken thighs are cooked through.
If using table salt instead of kosher salt, reduce the amount of salt to 1 tbsp.