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Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

Honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs is a great weeknight dinner the whole family will love. Tender chicken thighs are seared until crispy, then baked to perfection, and topped with a sticky sauce.  

If you need a new easy dinner recipe, you have to try these delicious chicken thighs. Between the sweet honey, salty soy sauce, tangy lemon juice, and spice blend, they’re packed full of flavor. 

The best part about this recipe is that it only requires a handful of simple ingredients, and you likely already have most of them (if not all) on hand. Serve with a simple butter lettuce salad or dairy free mashed potatoes.

Ingredients

  • Skin on bone-in chicken thighs – the skin gets crispy while the meat stays nice and tender. See the substitutions section about using boneless skinless chicken thighs. 
  • Dry rub – a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, lemon pepper seasoning, and olive oil or avocado oil so it sticks to the chicken.
  • Honey garlic sauce – butter (dairy-free or regular unsalted), fresh garlic, soy sauce or tamari, honey, and lemon slices.

See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full recipe.

How To Make Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

Step 1. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and set aside. Add the lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, dried thyme, kosher salt, and avocado or olive oil to the bottom of a medium bowl. Mix together to form a paste, then add in the chicken thighs, tossing until they’re evenly coated in the seasoning mixture. Marinate covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Step 2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with one tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the chicken thighs and sear for 3 minutes with the skin side down. Flip the chicken over and sear for another 2 minutes with the skin side up.

Step 3. Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes.

Step 4. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the minced garlic, honey, and soy sauce or tamari. Once combined, add in the fresh lemon slices. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken.

Step 5. Spoon the sauce over the thighs, add the lemon slices to the pan, and put it back in the oven to caramelize for another 5 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF/74ºC. Spoon the sauce from the pan over the chicken again before serving.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

  • No bone-in chicken thighs? – you can use boneless chicken thighs, but you’ll need to reduce the cooking time so they don’t get overcooked. All the details are in the notes section in the recipe card.
  • No lemon pepper seasoning? – use 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and zest from 1 lemon.
  • No soy sauce or tamari? – chicken broth will also work.
  • Make it soy-free – use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce/tamari and add a pinch of salt.
  • Add-ins – red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for some heat.

How to Serve

You can serve honey garlic chicken with a variety of side dishes such as green beans, dairy free mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, vegan mashed sweet potatoes, roasted vegetables, or coconut lime rice,

Helpful Tips

Use a meat thermometer. If you’re not used to cooking chicken thighs with the bone-in, be sure that the meat is fully cooked through by using a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature has reached 165ºF.

Use a skillet that’s just large enough to hold all of the chicken thighs, but not so large that there’s a ton of extra space. I find a 10-inch skillet to be the perfect size. If the pan is too large, the sauce will spread out too thin and can burn in the oven.

No oven-safe skillet? Preheat a baking dish or sheet pan at the time you preheat the oven. Sear the chicken in a skillet, then transfer it to your preheated dish and continue on with the recipe. 

Don’t use chicken breast. Unfortunately, chicken breast won’t work for this recipe. It doesn’t contain enough fat and will dry out in the cooking process.

How to Store

Transfer the chicken thighs along with the leftover sauce in the pan to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

More Chicken Recipes

Honey Garlic Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

5 from 1 vote
A skillet with honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs with a sticky garlic sauce and cooked lemon slices.
Honey garlic lemon pepper chicken thighs is a great weeknight dinner the whole family will love. Tender chicken thighs are seared until crispy, then baked to perfection, and topped with a sticky sauce.  
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Serving Size 3

Ingredients
 

  • 5 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs about 1.75 pounds
  • fresh parsley (optional) for garnish

Chicken Marinade

Sticky Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons butter dairy free or regular unsalted
  • 3 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • fresh lemon slices

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and set aside. Add the lemon pepper seasoning, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, dried thyme, kosher salt, and avocado or olive oil to the bottom of a medium bowl. Mix together to form a paste, then add in the chicken thighs, tossing until they're evenly coated in the seasoning mixture. Marinate covered in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 375ºF/190ºC. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat with one tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the chicken thighs and sear for 3 minutes with the skin side down. Flip the chicken over and sear for another 2 minutes with the skin side up.
  • Transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the minced garlic, honey, and soy sauce or tamari. Once combined, add in the fresh lemon slices. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Spoon the sauce over the thighs, add the lemon slices to the pan, and put it back in the oven to caramelize for another 5 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165℉/74℃. Spoon the sauce from the pan over the chicken again before serving.

Notes

Using bone-in chicken thighs without skin – after searing in the skillet, they’ll take about 25 minutes in the oven or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF/74ºC.
Using boneless skinless chicken thighs – after searing in the skillet, they’ll take about 20 minutes in the oven or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF/74ºC.
See the blog post for other helpful tips.

Make It Your Way: Substitutions & Variations

No lemon pepper seasoning? – use 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and zest from 1 lemon.
No soy sauce or tamari? – chicken broth will also work.
Make it soy-free – use coconut aminos instead of soy sauce/tamari and add a pinch of salt.
Add-ins – red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper for some heat.
5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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