Succulent honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs are the perfect weeknight dinner, as a 30-minute recipe is easy with minimal prep work. The sauce hits all of the right notes for delicious addictiveness, with a sticky, garlicky thing that keeps you coming back for one more bite. Read my Pro Tips below to ensure silky, fall-apart tenderness.
Why You’re Going to Love This Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs Recipe
What’s not to love about quickly roasted chicken thighs that at packed with flavor and super easy to make? (This recipe has no soy sauce – if you’re looking for more of a Chinese takeout vibe, be sure to check out my Healthy Honey Garlic Chicken.) Here’s why this one is a keeper:
- Sweet and Savory Balance: The honey, lemon, and garlic situation create a beautiful balance of sweetness and tang, while the garlic and pepper add depth and a bit of heat.
- Quick and Easy: The recipe takes just about 30 minutes from start to finish, making it an ideal choice for busy weeknight dinners.
- Family Favorite: This dish is a crowd-pleaser. The honey garlic sauce is sure to satisfy both kids and adults alike.
Gather Your Ingredients
Here’s what you’re going to need to whip up some yummy baked chicken thighs:
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs: The main protein source for the dish, providing a tender and juicy texture. You can swap in bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs but the cooking time will be longer.
- Olive oil: Used for marinating the chicken and adding moisture and flavor during cooking.
- Honey: Adds natural sweetness to the dish and helps create a sticky glaze on the chicken.
- Garlic: Provides a savory and aromatic flavor that pairs well with the sweetness of honey and the tanginess of lemon. Fresh garlic cloves are tastier than garlic powder.
- Lemon juice: Gives a refreshing citrus flavor to balance the sweetness and adds a hint of acidity.
- Cracked black pepper: Adds a mildly spicy and earthy taste to the dish, enhancing the overall flavor profile.
- Kosher salt: Enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and helps to season the chicken.
- Minced parsley (optional): Can be sprinkled on top of the chicken before serving for added freshness and color.
Grab these Tools
Before you get started, make sure you have the right tools on hand:
- Baking Dish: For roasting the chicken thighs and collecting all the delicious pan juices. This is quite a saucy recipe, so you don’t want to use a baking sheet or an air fryer.
- Mixing Bowl: To combine your honey, garlic, lemon juice, and spices.
- Meat Thermometer: To ensure your chicken thighs are cooked perfectly.
How to Make Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs: Easy Step-by-Step Directions
- Preheat the Oven: The hot oven will ensure your chicken thighs cook evenly and develop a beautiful color.
- Mix the Sauce: Combining the honey, garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, and salt makes a flavorful marinade that will permeate the chicken thighs.
- Season the Chicken: Place chicken thighs in the baking dish and cover with the sauce. By submerging the thighs in the lemon garlic pepper chicken sauce, you’re setting the stage for a flavor-packed end result.
- Bake and Baste: Baking and occasional basting ensures the chicken is juicy, tender, and rich in flavor.
- Broil for Color: A quick blast under the broiler gives your chicken thighs that irresistible golden-brown finish.
- Rest and Serve: Allowing the chicken to rest ensures that the juices are evenly distributed, resulting in tender, succulent chicken.
What To Serve With Your Lemony Honey Baked Chicken Thighs
- On top of carbs: The flavorful sauce from the chicken tastes phenomenal over rice (white or brown rice), mashed potatoes, cauliflower rice, or pasta.
- With Veggies: Serve alongside roasted vegetables, steamed green beans or broccoli, or a fresh salad for a well-rounded meal.
- With Bread: Soak up the delicious sauce with a piece of crusty bread.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- Marinate Ahead: For an even deeper flavor, marinate the chicken thighs in the sauce overnight.
- Leftovers Storage: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
- Freezing Option: You can freeze cooked chicken thighs for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating for the most even results.
Variations and Substitutions
- Swap the cut of chicken: Not a fan of chicken thighs? You can use chicken breasts or drumsticks; just adjust cooking times accordingly.
- Go spicy: Add a dash of chili flakes to the honey lemon garlic sauce for an extra kick.
- Add more flavor: Try adding some thyme, rosemary, or onion powder to the marinade for an added layer of flavor. Some paprika would also add a bit of color and flavor.
- Double down on the lemon: Add the lemon zest to the sauce mixture as well for even more lemon flavor. Roasting some fresh lemon slices on top of the chicken is a nice finishing touch.
- Use Lemon Pepper Seasoning: If you have store-bought lemon pepper seasoning and would like to include that, omit the black pepper, use 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning and reduce the salt to 1 1/4 tsp to make up for the salt in the seasoning mixture.
Expert Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Skip the Rest: Letting the chicken rest after cooking helps retain its juices, making it more tender and flavorful.
- Baste for Best Results: Basting the chicken with its own juices during cooking ensures a juicy, flavorful result.
- Taste the Sauce: If the sauce tastes too acidic after cooking, add a pinch more salt.
- Overcook them: Wait, what? Yup. Chicken should be cooked to 165ºF for food safety (and is considered done at that point). But dark meat chicken (like thighs and drumsticks) contains more connective tissue than white meat, and cooking it to a higher temperature helps to melt away this tough, rubbery stuff, leading to a more tender and flavorful result. Cook chicken thighs to an internal temperature of 175 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit (80 to 85 degrees Celsius) for silky, fall-apart tenderness.
Bake up some juicy, flavor-packed honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs today and watch them disappear from the plate! Your taste buds (and your family) will thank you.
Chicken thighs are a versatile and flavorful protein that can be paired with a variety of side dishes, sauces, and seasonings. Here are some options that pair well with chicken thighs:
Grains: Rice, quinoa, couscous, orzo, or bulgur can be served as a side dish or mixed with vegetables and herbs to create a delicious pilaf.
Potatoes: Mashed, roasted, or baked potatoes make a great accompaniment to chicken thighs. For added flavor, try garlic mashed potatoes or rosemary-garlic roasted potatoes.
Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables like asparagus, green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, or eggplant complement the flavors of chicken thighs. You can also serve a fresh salad with a tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Bread: Serve warm, crusty bread or flatbread like naan or pita alongside your chicken thighs to soak up any delicious sauces.
Other Easy & Quick Chicken Recipes You’ll Love
- Gochujang Chicken – Crispy bites of chicken in an irresistible sticky sauce that’ll satisfy all your takeout cravings in just 30 minutes!
- Honey Garlic Chicken – Imagine golden, tender bites of chicken coated in a luscious honey garlic sauce – sticky, glossy, and oh-so-good. The best part? No deep fry required!
- Orange Chicken – Crispy & juicy chicken basking in a sticky, sweet, and savory orange sauce. Trust me, you won’t be able to resist going back for seconds (or thirds).
- Grilled Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs – Juicy chicken thighs with an easy, tangy-sweet marinade and a honey mustard glaze that caramelizes to perfection.
Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ cup honey
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper that’s a lot – 40 cracks on my pepper grinder
- 2 ¼ tsp kosher salt or to taste
- Minced parsley to serve optional
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- In a bowl, combine the honey, minced garlic, lemon juice, black pepper, and ¼ tsp of the salt. Mix well.
- Place chicken thighs in a baking dish and season with remaining salt. Pour the mixture over the thighs, making sure they are fully coated.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, basting halfway through. Bake until the chicken is cooked through to 175ºF-185ºF for fall-apart-tender results. Turn on the broiler and broil for another 3-4 minutes to brown the top.
- Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving with the sauce. Meanwhile, taste the sauce for salt. If it tastes too acidic, it probably needs a pinch more.
Last Updated on October 4, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD