These roasted lemon chicken thighs are made by pan-searing bone-in thighs until golden, then roasting them in a fresh and preserved lemon sauce with soy, garlic, and thyme.
Roasted Lemon Chicken Thighs
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 25 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4 to 6
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet with the garlic and thyme. Cook until golden brown all over, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Pour the vinegar into the skillet and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce and honey, shaking the skillet to mix the sauce.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add the water, fresh lemon, and preserved lemons, and bring to a simmer.
Place the skillet in the oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through, registers an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), and the sauce has reduced to a thick syrup, 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the chicken thighs.
Transfer the chicken to a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley. Spoon the sauce from the skillet over the chicken. Serve immediately.
*A Note About Dark Soy Sauce and how to Make this Recipe Gluten-Free
Soy sauce comes in many variations, including light, dark, and sweet versions. For this recipe, dark soy is used for its rich flavor and slightly thicker consistency. Many brands of dark soy also contain a small amount of molasses, which adds the slightest hint of sweetness. (Black soy sauce, which has a more marked sweetness, is not recommended for this recipe.)
For a gluten-free rendition of this dish, simply substitute an equal amount of tamari (check the label to make sure it doesn’t contain wheat or any other grain) and a pinch of brown sugar, if desired.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Delicious lemony flavor! I love lemon and this recipe did not disappoint. The combination of the fresh lemon and preserved lemon gave a really nice bitter lemon flavor balanced by the honey and soy sauce. This is a definite make again recipe.
When I bought the chicken, my grocery store didn't have bone-in, only boneless so I bought 8 boneless and the weight was close to 3 pounds. Adding vinegar to the pan reducing time was just seconds. One tablespoon in a super hot pan is reduced by half almost instantaneously. After adding the water, the chicken was done after 15 minutes and the sauce was fine but not syrupy. It was delicious as it was but a little thickener would add a nice touch to the sauce. When making again, I will add 1/4 tsp cornstarch, just enough to add a little more body to the sauce.
We had this with steamed rice and roasted broccoli. A bit of sauce on the rice was fabulous and the cooked lemon, both sliced and preserved, was SO yummy!
Love a recipe that comes together so easily yet has a complex flavor and takes humble ingredients to a new place. Of course, any recipe with lemon and chicken gets my attention, and blending the fresh and preserved lemon is delicious, but what makes this so “more-ish” is that the use of the dark soy and honey bring the lemon flavors to a perfect balance. No single note of sweetness or sourness, but a blend that's interesting and seems more complex than the actual individual elements—a brilliant pairing that gives a lushness to the sauce.
This is not your sheetpan crackling crisp chicken, but it has all the same ease with a bit more developed sauce and with no more time or effort. I made a half recipe and used an enameled cast iron pan with slightly higher sides than a frying pan and two handles, which makes sliding it into the oven from stovetop easy and safe.
I began with the thighs skin side up and gave them 3 to 4 minutes before turning, then gave the skin side a good 4 minutes, turned them back over skin up, and made sure to reduce the heat by the time I was adding the dark soy and honey so I didn’t risk scorching, and jostled everything to make sure the pieces had a coating on all sides (the skin is nicely browned but will not stay shatteringly crisp). Almost as soon as the sauce starts bubbling, it thickens and you can now slide this into the oven. I checked and ended up giving it about 18 minutes, and each piece was 170 to 178℉ when checked with a Thermapen.
What makes this such a memorable and special treatment is the flavors are so well balanced. That said, I included the flesh of preserved lemon (removing seeds) and so I made sure to not oversalt the meat in the beginning. The end result was just right for us, and there was a nice amount of sauce—much appreciated with rice and a flageolet salad (which also let us have the restraint to stop at one piece per person, tho it was so very tempting to have seconds).
File this under delicious chicken dinner in 45 minutes and a reason to preserve lemons. Did I mention that chicken thighs may be the best dinner miracle ingredient ever?