Seasoned with zesty lemon, fresh thyme and cracked black pepper, this baked lemon pepper chicken recipe is super juicy with crispy, flavorful skin. While it looks impressive, it is a breeze to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand!
Why You’ll Love this Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
Fresh lemon and cracked black pepper are a classic combination that can elevate any dish. Here a few reasons you will fall in love with this easy dinner idea:
- Easy: You only need a few ingredients and a zip lock bag to marinate the chicken. Then you bake it in the oven until the skin is crispy and perfectly golden brown. Plus, cleaning up is a snap thanks to only using a single baking dish.
- Impressive: While this baked lemon pepper chicken recipe is very easy to toss together, it looks stunning once roasted. If you don’t tell your guests, they will think you spent hours in the kitchen.
- Flavorful: The juicy baked chicken is full of lemon flavor, with a crispy, well seasoned skin. Fresh thyme adds a touch of earthiness and the freshly cracked pepper balances it all out!
In a rush? Try our crispy skillet lemon pepper chicken that uses lemon pepper seasoning is ready in under 30 minutes! You will also enjoy our lemon pepper chicken wings and lemon pepper air fryer chicken drumsticks.
What You’ll Need
You only need a few ingredients for this easy chicken recipe! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.
- Chicken: We use bone-in, skin on chicken thighs for maximum flavor.
- Olive Oil: Avocado oil also works well.
- Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and slices of lemon will give you the brightness this dish needs.
- Garlic: Freshly minced garlic has the best flavor, avoid the jarred variety. In a pinch, you can use 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
- Italian Seasoning: You can use a pre-mixed spice or make your own with dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and marjoram.
- Salt and Pepper
- Thyme: Fresh herbs will make a big difference to overall flavor, but you can substitute dried if needed.
How to Make Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken
Since you can prep this dish up to a day ahead of time, it’s the perfect easy dinner to impress your guests. Scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full detailed directions.
- Marinate: Place chicken in a disposable bag with all ingredients except the fresh lemon slices. Shake the bag around until all the chicken thighs are well coated. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for a more intense flavor.
- Bake: Place the marinated chicken in a greased baking dish or deep-sided baking sheet. Pour the leftover marinade over the top of the chicken. Add half of your lemon slices to the tops of the chicken thighs and bake for 45 minutes.
- Optional: If you’d like to brown the skin before serving, place the chicken under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes. Be sure to watch closely, it can burn quickly!
- Serve: Replace the cooked lemons with fresh slices and enjoy!
Tips From Our Kitchen
A few tips to ensure your chicken turns out perfect:
- Lemon Zest: Want your chicken to be exploding with lemon flavor? Add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest to the marinade.
- Chicken Breasts: You can use bone-in chicken breasts instead. Keep in mind chicken breasts will be completely cooked at 165°F. Boneless skinless chicken breasts will also work, but using bone-in chicken will result in much juicier chicken!
- Serving: When serving, pour the leftover juice in the casserole from roasting the thighs over the chicken. It has a lot of flavor and helps keep the meat juicy!
- Rest: Allowing the chicken to rest for 5 minutes after cooking will allow the meat to relax and the juices to settle. This simple step will help your chicken to be extra juicy and tender.
- Don’t Overcook: Use a instant read meat thermometer to prevent over cooking and drying out the chicken. Chicken is cooked once it reaches an internal temperature of 175°F for thighs, or 165°F for breasts.
What to Serve With Baked Lemon Chicken
This baked lemon pepper chicken recipe goes with just about every side dish. Whatever you do, don’t forget to make some homemade garlic bread to soak up all that buttery sauce!
- Potatoes: Potatoes are a classic pairing with a saucy chicken like this. We love the zestiness of the lemon pepper with our garlic mashed potatoes or roasted baby potatoes.
- Veggies: Vegetable sides lighten everything up and balance out the meal. We love our sauteed zucchini and squash and green beans almondine with these flavors.
- Rice or Pasta: We love these baked chicken breast or thighs with Parmesan butter noodles. This Parmesan garlic rice is another good option.
How to Store and Reheat Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken
This baked lemon chicken stores wonderfully and makes a great lunch of dinner the next day. Here’s how you do it:
- Store: Store leftover chicken in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Reheat: You can reheat it in the oven at 400°F for about 10 minutes, or in the microwave. We love to reheat this dish in the air fryer on 350°F for 3 to 4 minutes. It’s super quick and keeps the chicken nice and moist, while reviving that crispy skin!
- Freeze: Freeze cooled leftovers for up to 3 months in an airtight, freezer safe container. For best results, fully thaw chicken in the refrigerator before reheating.
More Easy Chicken Dinner Recipes
- Crockpot Mexican Chicken
- Skillet French Onion Chicken
- Crockpot Chicken and Gravy
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Pasta
- Crock Pot Chicken Marsala
- Garlic Parmesan Chicken
Baked Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipe
- 2 pounds bone-in, skin on chicken thighs, or breasts
- ¼ cup olive oil, or avocado oil
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 lemon, sliced, divided
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
- Pat the chicken dry and place in a gallon zip lock bag or large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients except the lemon slices. Shake until the chicken is coated. Seal and place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to marinate, or up to overnight.
- Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish. Pour the leftover marinade over the thighs and add half of the lemon slices to the tops of the thighs.
- Bake for 45 minutes, until cooked through and a meat thermometer reaches 175°F for thighs, or 165°F for breasts.
- Optional: To brown the skin, place the chicken under the broiler. Broil on low for 2 to 3 minutes, just until skin is crispy and browned on top. Watch carefully so the chicken does not burn.
- Replace the cooked lemons with the reserved fresh lemon slices. Serve immediately.