Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

This easy recipe for pan seared lemon pepper chicken thighs are perfectly flavored and crispy when cooked up in a hot skillet. Serve it with your favorite sides like roasted veggies and you’ll have a meal your whole family will love in under 30 minutes!

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These days, eating chicken thighs is an almost weekly occurrence for us. We love these pan-seared chicken thighs, but I like to have fun with different rubs and seasonings.

The lemon pepper seasoning I make is truly delicious with chicken. Learn how to make lemon pepper chicken from scratch below! 

This chicken is so good as a dinner entree with sides like Garlic Brown Butter Green Beans or Risotto, but it's also amazing cut up on salads for lunch the next day. Sometimes I'll even add it to tacos or soup, depending on what I am craving.

I like to make a bunch of chicken thighs at once and use it different ways all week. Check out my list of ways to use leftover chicken.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Bone In Chicken Thighs - Bone in chicken thighs are sthe star of this recipe for good reason! Bone in chicken thighs are cheaper, but still have a lot of meat on each piece. They have the skin on, which makes them nice and crispy. Because the thighs are bone in, they’re really hard to dry out even if overcooked. This means you can cook them a bit longer if you’re feeling nervous about them cooking through and you still won’t dry out the meat.
  • Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning - Lemon pepper is the best flavor for chicken thighs because it’s both fresh and savory. However, you can buy lemon pepper seasoning if you need to.
  • Olive Oil - You’ll need an oil to help get the skillet hot so the chicken skin gets nice and crispy. I like using olive oil but feel free to use avocado oil or even butter or ghee. 

For Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Homemade lemon pepper seasoning makes this recipe so great. Here's what you need to make it:

  • Salt & Pepper - This classic duo helps bring out all flavor profiles in the chicken and lemon.
  • Lemon Zest - Zest comes from the skin of the lemon and contains all the essential oils which is delicious concentrated fresh flavor that pairs excellent with chicken. 

How To Make Crispy Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

  1. Trim any excess skin off of chicken thighs using kitchen shears. Discard the excess skin. 
  2. Pat chicken thighs completely dry with a paper towel.
  3. Make your homemade lemon pepper seasoning by mixing 2 teaspoons each of salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
  4. Generously coat both sides of the chicken thighs with the lemon pepper seasoning.
  5. In a skillet, add olive oil to the bottom of the pan and heat over medium high until hot, but not smoking.
  6. Place the skin side of the chicken thigh down first. If you hear it sizzling, it’s the correct temperature. Sear that side for 3 minutes. You’ll know that side is ready to flip once you notice that it’s easy to pull off the heat of the pan. If it’s sticking, give it a little more time.
  7. Once you flip the chicken to the side without the skin on it, cover your skillet.
  8. Continue cooking chicken, covered, for about 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature by sticking the probe of the thermometer into the meat, close to the bone. When the thermometer reads 165, your chicken is cooked. Remove from the skillet and serve hot with your favorite side dish. 

Then, serve it with your favorite sides, like Homemade Broccoli Macaroni and Cheese.

NOTE: With bone in chicken thighs, you can err on the side of “overdone” if you’d like and cook it to 170-175 without drying out the meat. Bone in thighs regularly have some redness right by the bone, but the rest of the meat is perfectly cooked.

Cooking Tips

  • It’s important to remove any excess skin before cooking the chicken thighs. This will help make sure the chicken is evenly cooked as any excess skin could burn. 
  • When preparing the chicken thighs, make sure you pat them until they are as dry as you can get them. Any excess moisture could cause hot oil to splatter and can change the texture of the chicken.
  • When you place the chicken in a hot skillet, make sure you can hear it sizzle. If you can’t wait until the skillet warms up a bit more. Follow the steps below on how to get crispy skin on chicken thighs. 
  • When chicken is searing in the skillet, use a splatter guard to save yourself some time cleaning up.
Close up of crispy chicken thigh with lemon pepper seasoning plated with broccoli and potatoes.

HOW TO GET CRISPY SKIN ON CHICKEN THIGHS

It’s easy to get crispy skin on bone in skin on chicken thighs by following these easy steps! 

  1. Trim and clean the chicken thighs, removing any excess skin that is not covering the meat.
  2. Pat dry completely with a paper towel on both sides.
  3. Use a dry rub of spices all over the chicken.
  4. Cook by pan searing the chicken in a skillet or baking in the oven. If baking in the oven, you can layer an ovenproof wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet which will help the chicken get crispy! 
  5. To make them extra crispy, place the chicken thighs skin side up under the broiler for a couple minutes.

OVEN ROASTED LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN THIGHS

If you don’t like using your skillet, try making them in the oven by baking them at 350 for 25-25 minutes or until the internal temperature thermometer reaches 165. To get the skin extra crispy, broil skin side up for a couple minutes. 

AIR FRYER LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN THIGHS

You can also make these in your air fryer by cooking seasoned chicken thighs at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked all the way through. 

Close up of crispy chicken thigh with lemon pepper seasoning plated with broccoli and potatoes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you cook crispy chicken thighs in the oven? Sure, cooking time will vary a bit. I’d check after about 20 minutes with a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. If it’s not cooked to 165º, continue cooking 2-3 minutes at a time until cooked.

What is in homemade lemon pepper seasoning? Lemon pepper seasoning is made up of cracked pepper, lemon zest and salt. That’s it!

Can you use boneless chicken thighs or chicken breasts? Absolutely. You won’t get the crispiness of the chicken skin from the bone in thighs, but you’ll still get the tenderness of the meat. I’d recommend pounding the chicken breasts thin or cutting in half through the center of the breast to make sure the cook time is a bit more even. Be sure to watch your cook time, so you don’t overcook the meat.

Is lemon pepper the same as lemon and pepper? Although they are all separate in themselves, lemon pepper usually refers to a seasoning where lemon and pepper can just be the foods by themselves. Either way they can be combined to make an easy homemade seasoning that’s great with chicken!

What To Serve With Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

More Chicken Recipes

Close up of crispy chicken thigh with lemon pepper seasoning plated with broccoli.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

Pan seared lemon pepper chicken thighs are made in a skillet and make an easy weeknight dinner in under 30 minutes! Serve it with your favorite roasted veggies and you'll have a meal your whole family will love!
5 from 79 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4 chicken thighs
Author: Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Ingredients

Homemade Lemon Pepper Seasoning

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest

Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

  • 4 bone in skin on chicken thighs (about 1.5 pounds)
  • Homemade lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • Trim any excess skin off of chicken thighs and pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Mix together your homemade lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Generously cover both sides of the chicken thighs with the lemon pepper seasoning.
  • In a skillet, add olive oil to bottom of pan and heat until hot, but not smoking.
  • Place the skin side of the chicken thigh down first. Sear that side for 3 minutes.
  • Once you flip the chicken to the side without the skin on it, cover your skillet.
  • Continue cooking chicken, covered, for about 10 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature by sticking the probe of the thermometer into the meat, close to the bone. When the thermometer reads 165, your chicken is cooked.

Nutrition

Serving: 1chicken thigh | Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 1168mg

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8 Comments

  1. I loved the lemony flavor on this chicken. It was so delicious! I made it for dinner with a side salad and everyone loved it!

  2. Crispy on the outside and so juicy inside! I so love the homemade lemon pepper seasoning. It elevated the dish so much! 5/5 - will be making this again!

  3. I'm a fan of simple but delicious recipes and this one is perfect for me! I tried making it the same way following your whole post and at the same time following all your tips too. The result is so gooood! The taste, especially the flavor the the homemade lemon pepper seasoning in this dish is the game changer! Thanks for this great recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. The lemon pepper seasoning did great! I loved the crispy, golden-brown skin and juicy meat of the chicken. Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  5. I had some chicken thighs that I wasn't sure what to do with, so I found your recipe on pinterest. So glad I did because this was just perfect. Thank you!

  6. Pingback: 30 Easy Whole30 Chicken Recipes - The Clean Eating Couple