Roast Chicken Thighs with Lemon

These roast chicken thighs with lemon rely on a simple technique that ensures shatteringly crisp skin and exceptionally juicy meat. Tart citrus and olives lend a subtle, simple flair.

Four roast chicken thighs with lemon in a cast-iron skillet set on a wooden board with a meat fork resting beside it.

Like many, once I discovered chicken thighs, it was hard for me to revert to my old boneless, skinless breast ways. They actually taste like something, are basically impossible to cook up to be chalky and tough, and, if you go for the skin-on ones, you’re rewarded with browned, crisp results.

It may seem odd to start the thighs in a cold skillet, but doing so actually helps the fat render out of the skin more efficiently so it gets cracker-like crisp. Combined with warm, blistered Kalamata olives and lightly caramelized lemon, it’s an easy, no-think chicken dinner you’ll turn to repeatedly.–Sheela Prakash

Roast Chicken Thighs with Lemon

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 15 M
  • 40 M
  • Serves 2 to 4
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place a rack in the middle of the oven.

Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil, rub to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

In a large cast iron or other heavy bottomed oven-safe skillet, place the chicken skin-side down. Scatter the olives around the thighs. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook, undisturbed, until the skin is well browned and crisp, 12 to 20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, slice half the lemon into thin rounds. Remove the seeds from the lemon slices.

Flip the chicken and scatter the lemon slices around it. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), 8 to 15 minutes more.

Squeeze the remaining lemon half over the chicken, sprinkle with parsley, if desired, and serve.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This roast chicken was surprisingly delicious considering how little work went into it as well as how few ingredients were needed. The shattering crispy skin. The lemon slices that started to caramelize. The blistered olives. OMG, YUM!

The technique for crisping the chicken skin was spot-on. After leaving the thighs undisturbed for 15 minutes in one of my best cast iron skillets, the skin was a beautiful mahogany brown. The only thing that I would do differently when I make this dish again, which I will be doing fairly soon, is that I will double or triple the amount of lemon. It was amazing! While I’m at it, I might as well throw in some extra olives.

I thought that we would get 2 meals out of this, being that every meal this time of year begins with a Caprese salad (come on, have you tasted heirlooms lately?), and I’d revisited an old favorite potato dish, hot crash potatoes. I also steamed fresh Romano beans. With all that food, I thought for sure, that we would have 2 of the thighs left for another meal. Well, all hope for that was dashed after tasting the first bite of this dish.

This is a very easy recipe that certainly deserves merit. It requires so few ingredients yet this recipe yields an extremely flavorful plate of chicken. It smelled so delicious and I kept digging for more! One was certainly not enough. The only thing lacking is that I should have used more olive oil to coat the chicken so I get more of that tasty sauce at the end!

I managed to get 2 servings out of this recipe and I served this with polenta and mushroom ragout. I used boneless chicken thighs.


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  1. It does not say whether the chicken should be room temperature or not at the start. I normally remove chicken from the refrigerator 30 min. before cooking it, but in this case starting with a cold pan, I was not sure whether I should also start with cold chicken. Anyway, I’ll probably try it, but let the chicken sit on the counter 30 min before starting the cooking. In general, I think recipes should specify whether the meat or poultry or fish should be room temp or not.

    1. Ken, we generally don’t recommend bringing chicken to room temperature before cooking as it could pose a safety risk. You should be fine starting with cold chicken, however, you still want to check the internal temperature to make sure your chicken is fully cooked before serving.

  2. Perfect, delicious, easy and love the cold pan start. We loved this recipe! This will definitely be on the list of ‘make this again’ and I would not change a thing! Served it with charred baby broccoli. As always, thanks for a great addition to the list. 🙂

    1. You’re welcome, Tannis! And thank you for taking the time to let us know how much you loved it.

  3. 5 stars
    I loved this dish. It was incredibly easy to make, the recipe was spot on, and the end result was pure deliciousness. The chicken had crispy skin, was moist inside, and the lemon and olive sauce poured over the chicken was out of this world. It will be added to my go to list of recipes that I can’t wait to devour again.

    1. Thanks, Alan! We hope you get to enjoy it again soon and we’re looking forward to hearing what’s next on the list.

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