Crispy Chicken with Lemon and Capers

Crispy chicken with lemon and capers is a classic combination of flavors. Made with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, it’s quick to cook and pretty inexpensive. Tangy and bright, this dish is also paleo and gluten-free.

Crispy chicken with lemon and capers in a large serving tray, with a bowl of capers and a bowl of peppercorns. The chicken is garnished with lemon slices and parsley.

Adapted from Ciarra Colacino | The Frugal Paleo Cookbook | Page Street Publishing, 2021

Chicken seems to be the protein folks love to hate. It’s been called boring, bland, overpriced (for the boneless, skinless varieties), and “gross” when you have to break down the whole bird yourself. Ouch. Can’t a bird catch a break? I mean, think of a protein that is as depended upon as chicken. Having guests to dinner? Chicken. Exhausted after a long day? Chicken. On a budget? Chicken. Let’s face it, chicken is the vanilla ice cream of the protein world. It’s the blank slate we can’t seem to get away from. So embrace it by making the most out of every bird. After all, chicken rolls from meal to meal better than any other protein. Being “vanilla” has its advantages.–Ciarra Colacino

Crispy Chicken with Lemon and Capers

Crispy chicken with lemon and capers in a large serving tray, with a bowl of capers and a bowl of peppercorns. The chicken is garnished with lemon slices and parsley.
Few items are as affordable as bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, and this is one of my favorite ways to make them. I always have parsley and lemon hanging around my kitchen, and I just pre-make a batch of House Seasoning Blend since I use it on almost everything. This dish takes just over 30 minutes to throw together and finishes in the oven, leaving plenty of time to whip up a quick vegetable side dish and tidy up the kitchen. Be sure to spoon plenty of the pan juices over the chicken when serving; it’s delicious.
Ciarra Colacino

Prep 10 mins
Cook 35 mins
Total 45 mins
Entree
Italian
2 to 4 servings
987 kcal
No ratings yet
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Ingredients 

For the House Seasoning Blend

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the crispy chicken

  • 2 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon House Seasoning Blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons capers* drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 lemons one halved and one sliced

Directions
 

Make the House Seasoning Blend

  • In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Any leftover seasoning can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Make the crispy chicken

  • Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Trim any excess fat or hanging skin away from the chicken thighs. Season the skin side of the thighs with the House Seasoning Blend and kosher salt.
  • Set a cast-iron skillet (or another oven-safe skillet) over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet, skin side down, leaving about 1 inch (25 mm) space between each thigh. If necessary, work in batches. Attempting to sear all of the pieces at once in a pan that is too small will cause the temperature of the pan to drop quickly, steaming the thighs rather than searing them.
  • Sear chicken until golden, about 3 minutes, move to a plate, and sear the second batch, if necessary.
  • Return all of the chicken to the skillet skin side up and slide the skillet into the oven. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and registers an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from the oven, sprinkle chicken with capers and parsley. Squeeze lemon halves over the chicken, then arrange the lemon slices in the skillet with the chicken.
  • Spoon the pan juices over the chicken and serve directly from the skillet.
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Notes

*What are capers?

Capers are the green, unripened flower buds of the caper bush, also known as the Flinders rose. The tiny little buds are pickled and used like pickles or olives. They have a salty, briny taste and add loads of flavor to a dish. 
If you’re unable to find them, you can use olives (preferably green) in place of them. Just chop them up into small pieces and you’ll never know that difference. Pickles can be used but they often have a sweetness that capers and olives don’t.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 987kcal (49%)Carbohydrates: 5g (2%)Protein: 63g (126%)Fat: 78g (120%)Saturated Fat: 19g (119%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 15gMonounsaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 378mg (126%)Sodium: 937mg (41%)Potassium: 874mg (25%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 621IU (12%)Vitamin C: 4mg (5%)Calcium: 82mg (8%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This crispy chicken with lemon and capers was quick, easy, and tasty enough for a weeknight family dinner, but with a couple of small tweaks, it became something deliciously company-worthy. After 30 minutes of roasting, I threw the lemon slices into the skillet and left it in the oven for another 7 minutes so the lemon slices could get a bit of caramelization on them. After pulling the skillet from the oven the lemon slices had colored a little and easily gave up their juices.

crispy-chicken-lemon-capers-bloys

I then moved the chicken to a platter, turned a burner on, and deglazed all the luscious Maillard browned bits stuck to the bottom of the skillet with 1/2 cup of sauvignon blanc and 1/4 cup of chicken stock. I poured the slurpy, deglazed pan juices over the chicken. I served it with roasted mashed cauliflower but if I were serving it to company, I would definitely serve it with rice pilaf or risotto or this farro salad. I think the sweetness of the butternut squash would be awesome with the piquant tanginess of the lemon and capers.

I also think it wouldn’t hurt to double the seasoning blend and season both the skin side and the underside as well. I mean, why not get extra flavor wherever you can?


This recipe is a winner! It was quick, easy, and truly delicious. It only needs a few ingredients, and they’re ingredients that I usually have on hand. If you’re a fan of capers like me, you might want to double the amount. While the chicken was baking, I was able to clean up and have a glass of wine, and dinner was ready in an hour.

crispy-chicken-lemon-capers-jeanne-s

I already had a mixed green salad ready to serve with the chicken, but rice would have been a nice accompaniment, too. I served it with a nice, chilled Chardonnay. This recipe will definitely be on my main rotation. It would serve 2-4 depending on the eater and sides. In my family, it only served 2.

I love any easy chicken recipe that includes lemon and capers so this was a no-brainer test for me. It certainly is an easy weeknight recipe. The chicken cooked perfectly though I wish the skin had more crispiness to it. I wonder if browning it in the skillet longer would have helped.

My final comment is I think this needs more capers. It calls for 1 teaspoon, I added 2 tablespoons and felt that gave it the appropriate caper flavoring. The sauce at the bottom of the pan was indeed delicious. I also poured it over the rice pilaf I made to go with this. I got 4 servings out of this and served it with parmesan roasted broccoli and rice pilaf.

This crispy chicken with lemon and capers is a very tasty little dish, like a piccata but without the rich sauce. I like to air chill my chicken in the fridge for a while to help dry out the skin, so it sears better.

I did season the thighs with the house seasoning while it chilled, so it helped dry out the skin and get absorbed into the meat. The skin was crispy, the chicken tender and moist, and overall, a very satisfying dish. Served with roasted smashed potatoes.

Roasted skin-on, bone-in chicken is my favorite poultry, and I’m fond of preparations for any meats that start on the stove and finish in the oven, so this recipe for crispy chicken with lemon and capers called out to me. It followed through on its promise. These are quick to prep, easy to cook, and don’t leave many things to clean up. Oh, they also taste great.

Originally published October 31, 2021

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