Lemon Chicken Thighs

These juicy and flavorful lemon chicken thighs are made with a homemade marinade and grilled to perfection. The perfect protein to serve as an easy weeknight meal, or as a tasty dinner when you're hosting guests!

grilled lemon chicken thighs on a white plate
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Lemon Chicken Thighs Recipe

Grilled lemon chicken thighs are such a great meal in the spring and summer. There's just something so refreshing about cooking chicken in a lemon marinade.

This grilled chicken is a great way to throw together a healthy meal on a busy weeknight. But I'd also proudly cook it for dinner when we have guests over too! It's packed full of flavor and never turns out dry.

You can never go wrong with grilling chicken. Whether it's this recipe, grilled cilantro lime chicken, or grilled chicken fajitas, I'll never turn down some tasty grilled chicken.

Using a homemade marinade before throwing chicken on the grill has revolutionized these meals too! These juicy chicken thighs soak up all the flavor of the lemon marinade, it's just so tasty.

a dinner spread of green beans, lemon chicken and rice on a wood table

Why I Love this Recipe

  • These tasty grilled lemon chicken thighs can be eaten on their own, or sliced up and eaten on a salad. There are so many uses for grilled chicken!
  • This easy lemon chicken recipe is perfect for meal prep. Chicken stores well and reheats well, and you can pair it with so many easy-to-store side dishes.
  • Prep this chicken ahead of time, let it marinade, and then it's ready to go on the grill for dinner! So quick and easy.
parsley and red pepper flakes in a jar of marinade

Lemon Chicken Marinade

This homemade lemon chicken marinade is so easy to make. It really is what makes this a top-notch recipe.

Boneless chicken can often turn out dry, but marinating it is the easiest way to ensure that it turns out juicy and tender. Plus, it's packed full of flavor! It's truly one of my favorite methods to use in order to cook the most delicious and flavorful chicken.

You can make this marinade really easily in a mason jar. Just throw all the ingredients into one jar and shake it up... that's it, it's ready to go! You can either use the marinade right away, or store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days to use later.

Hot Tip: When zesting a lemon, be sure you only get the yellow part of the peel. The white part is really bitter and can affect the flavor of this homemade marinade.

lemon chicken marinade ingredients on a wooden table

Ingredients

You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry already! Write down what you're missing and pick it up on your next grocery run.

  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • zest from one lemon
  • honey
  • salt
  • pepper
  • parsley leaves
  • red pepper flakes
  • boneless chicken thighs
lemon slices garnish a tray of lemon chicken

Substitutions and Variations

You can use chicken breast, chicken drumsticks, or bone-in skin-on chicken thighs as a replacement for boneless chicken thighs.

If you don't have lemons on hand, feel free to use limes! It will obviously change the flavor profile, but will still be quite tasty.

Want to make this chicken thigh recipe, but don't have a grill? Heat a large skillet over medium heat with a little bit of oil or butter. Cook each chicken thigh in the hot skillet just like you would on a grill! This cast iron chicken is another great method!

How to Make Lemon Chicken Thighs

Place all of your simple marinade ingredients into a jar. Cover and shake until it is thoroughly combined. You can also put all of the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.

marinade that has been shaken together in. mason jar

Clean the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Then, place them in a zip-top bag or a bowl and pour the marinade over the chicken.

Toss the chicken in the marinade using tongs until each piece is coated well.

raw chicken thighs resting in lemon marinade in a glass bowl.

Allow the chicken thighs to marinate for at least one hour.

Remove the chicken from the bowl or bag and grill over medium-high heat on each side until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF. The outside should be a nice golden brown.

a gray plate with rice, lemon marinated chicken, and green beans.

Allow the chicken to cool slightly, slice if desired, and then serve!

Tips for Success

  • Allow these tender chicken thighs to rest for for 5-10 minutes before cutting into them. This will help the meat to remain juicy and retain a lot of the flavor from the marinade.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temp of your chicken. The internal temperature should reach 165°F.
  • Garnish each cooked chicken thigh with fresh herbs and lemon zest for an extra splash of zesty flavor!

You can also cook them in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes. You can also cook them in a hot skillet. Just be sure they are cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

What to Serve with Lemon Chicken Thighs

Serve up this tasty protein with a side of vegetables like garlic green beans or oven roasted broccoli.

These roasted potatoes made with fresh rosemary are also a great side dish to serve with lemon chicken! If your family loves bread, try these 2 Ingredient Biscuits!

You can also simply pair this juicy chicken with risotto, brown rice or angel hair pasta. Feel free to make and set aside extra marinade to drizzle over the top of the cooked chicken.

Check out even more side dishes for lemon chicken.

a gray dinner plate with servings of rice, lemon marinated chicken, and green beans next to a platter of lemon chicken

You can also slice up each thigh and serve it on a spinach salad or a basic chopped salad.

How to Store Leftovers

Store leftover lemon chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze grilled chicken for up to 3 months.

This lemon chicken thighs recipe is perfect for meal prepping. You can cook the chicken and store it until you need it later in the week. Just pop it in the oven or microwave and heat it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.

grilled lemon chicken thighs on a white plate

FAQ

Is it ok to marinate chicken in lemon juice?

It is perfectly safe to marinate chicken in lemon juice. Even though lemon juice is acidic, it will not negatively affect the chicken unless it is marinated too long. Chicken can marinate in lemon juice for as little as one hour and up to 24 hours.

Does lemon juice dry out chicken?

Lemon juice helps tenderize the meat, but if left too long can make the chicken tough. As long as some type of oil is used when cooking and the chicken is not over-marinated nor overcooked, lemon juice will not dry out the chicken.

a gray plate with rice, lemon marinated chicken, and green beans.

More Chicken Recipes

Did you make this recipe?

If you make and love this recipe, please leave a ★★★★★ review below! It means so much to me when you try my recipes, and I'd love to know how it goes. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions.

chicken thighs cut into slices on a plate garnished with lemons and green beans and rice.

Lemon Chicken Thighs

These lemon chicken thighs are made with a simple homemade marinade. Pair it with simple sides or slice it up as protein for a salad.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Marinade Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 6 thighs
Author: Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ bunch of parsley leaves roughly one cup
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs about 6

Instructions

  • Add marinade ingredients to jar. Cover and shake until combined! You can also whisk together the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Place chicken in bowl or zip-top bag or bowl. Pour marinade over chicken and toss using tongs to coat chicken. Let chicken marinate for at least 1 hour. 
  • Grill over medium high heat on each side until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF with a meat thermometer.
  • Allow chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes and then serve.

Notes

Allow these tender chicken thighs to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into them. This will help the meat to remain juicy and retain a lot of the flavor from the marinade.
Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temp of your chicken. The internal temperature should reach 165°F.
Garnish each cooked chicken thigh with fresh herbs and lemon zest for an extra splash of zesty flavor!

Nutrition

Serving: 1thigh | Calories: 248kcal | Protein: 37g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 184mg | Sodium: 268mg

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