Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs are tender, juicy, and covered in a honey garlic sticky sauce that is simply out of this world. Serve with lemon slices and orzo, white rice, or noodles for a delicious dinner that will be a hit with the whole family!
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Honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs, oh how I love you! If you are looking for a mind-blowingly delicious but easy-to-make and beautiful chicken recipe, this one is for you! Crispy skin, drippy honey garlic sauce, tender chicken thigh meat, it just doesn't get much better than honey garlic chicken, my friends.
Bone-in chicken thighs pan sear on the stovetop before roasting in a sweet honey sauce in the oven, creating a delicious chicken thigh recipe you can count on and enjoy over and over again. Though this chicken dish is ready in 50 minutes, only 20 of them are active cooking time, making it as perfect for busy weeknights as it is for dinner parties and entertaining.
Why You'll Love Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Absolutely Divine. Take just one bite of these tender chicken thighs and you will see what I mean. Tender and juicy chicken, rich and sweet garlic sauce, beautiful presentation. These honey lemon garlic chicken thighs make the perfect weeknight dinner!
- Dinner Party Worthy. Present these chicken thighs at your next gathering for a meal your friends will talk about for the months to come.
- Ready in Under An Hour. However only part of that time is active cook time. The oven does the rest of the work for you!
- Reheats Beautifully. Though, if your family is anything like ours, leftovers may be hard to come by! If you are lucky enough to enjoy these delicious chicken thighs later, the thighs will still be juicy and tender and the sauce just as delectable as the first time.
Make this tasty and easy dinner recipe with just a handful of simple ingredients:
- Chicken Thighs: In particular, bone-in and skin-on thighs. The higher fat content of dark meat adds so much flavor and moisture to the chicken dish. Blot the chicken with paper towels before making the lemon pepper honey chicken if the thighs are damp or have any excess moisture.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic, peeled and sliced.
- Honey: Your favorite storebought brand of honey is perfect. Use raw honey if you prefer to make this recipe processed sugar-free.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh squeezed for the best flavor, although bottled lemon juice works in a pinch.
- Lemon Zest: Fresh. To save lemons, zest the lemon before juicing.
- Low-Sodium Soy Sauce: Balances the honey garlic sauce with salty umami notes.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: A touch of this fruity acid brightens the sauce, making it rich and flavorful.
- Unsalted Butter: Just 1 tablespoon adds sufficient richness, making the sauce so good you'll want to put it on everything.
- Dried Thyme: Adds light floral-herbal notes to finish off the honey lemon chicken thighs.
How to Make Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs
For the full recipe and measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Add the chicken to a large and deep oven-safe skillet or cast iron pan and season generously with salt and pepper. Turn the chicken skin side down in the pan.
Step 3: Heat the chicken over medium-high heat. Once sizzling, cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken releases easily from the pan.
Step 4: Turn the chicken. Let it cook for 2 ½ minutes. Add the tablespoon of butter and garlic cloves to the skillet. Cook another 2 ½ minutes, nudging the chicken and garlic around in the skillet occasionally.
Step 5: While the chicken cooks, stir together the honey, lemon juice, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, lemon zest, and dried thyme in a small bowl or measuring cup.
Step 6: Pour the honey mixture over the chicken. Turn the chicken so it is skin-side up. Bring the honey mixture to a boil for 1 minute.
Step 7: Move the skillet to the oven and cook for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and has reached an internal temperature of at least 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Don't Disturb the Chicken While It Sears. If you attempt to turn or move the chicken any earlier, you will risk having the skin stick to the pain. Instead, don't move or turn the chicken when it does the initial sear of chicken skin-side down, as the chicken will need 5 minutes for the fat to render, the skin to crisp up, and for the skin to release from the pan.
- Mix the Honey Garlic Sauce While the Chicken Is on the Stovetop. This will allow you to have the sauce ready to pour into the pan as soon as you need it for the recipe, preventing burning.
- Checking the Chicken Temperature. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thickest chicken thigh, moving the tip of the thermometer close to but not touching the bone. Once the thermometer has reached 175 degrees Fahrenheit, it is safe to eat, though cooking it up to 195 degrees ensures extra juicy chicken meat.
- Baking Pan Variation: If you don't have an oven-safe skillet, move the chicken and sauce to a baking dish and bake according to the recipe directions.
- Make It with Boneless Chicken Thighs: If you can find skin-on boneless chicken thighs, just follow the recipe directions, baking the chicken for 15-20 minutes. Boneless and skinless chicken thighs can substitute for bone-in following the same baking directions, though the delicious sauce won't be as rich.
Serve this honey lemon pepper chicken hot with orzo, garlic angel hair pasta, linguine, or rice and a gravy boat of the remaining garlic sauce drippings to top. Almost any variety of side dishes serve well with this chicken thigh recipe, but Air fryer zucchini, a fresh salad, roasted broccoli, broccolini, or blistered green beans are particularly idyllic green side dish complements.
- Dairy-Free: To make this honey garlic lemon pepper chicken recipe dairy-free, use vegan butter in place of unsalted butter.
- Processed Sugar-Free: Make this chicken dish with raw honey to make it processed sugar-free.
- Gluten-Free: To make honey garlic chicken without gluten, substitute coconut liquid aminos or tamari for low-sodium soy sauce.
- Refrigeration: Leftover honey lemon garlic chicken keeps covered in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
- Reheating: Warm the chicken thighs in the microwave on medium heat for 45-second to 1-minute intervals until warmed through.
We prefer a method of pan plus the stove. Searing the thighs on the stove allows the skin to crisp up and for the fat to render. Once golden, we pop the chicken in the oven for a long roast, allowing for the thighs to cook through and get nice and juicy without risking burning.
According to America's Test Kitchen, bone-in chicken thighs are cooked through at 175 degrees Fahrenheit, though they get more juicy as they reach 195 degrees. Click here to learn more.
Tools Needed to Make This Recipe
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Large Oven-Safe Skillet or Cast Iron Skillet
- Heat-Safe Spatula
More Chicken Recipes
- Asian Chicken Marinade
- BBQ Chicken Flatbread
- Crispy Herbed Panko Chicken
- Instant Pot Chicken and Potatoes
- Sheet Pan Mojo Chicken
- Healthy Orange Chicken
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