Juicy, crispy, and covered in a delicious and simple sweet and spicy rub, these crispy baked chicken thighs are a satisfying, healthy, and easy main dish perfect for a weeknight dinner.
Well, we’re officially into the new year, and after all the indulgent foods of the holidays, it’s nice to have something a little less heavy.
But, since we’re just now getting into cold weather here (we actually had lows in the 20s last weekend! You know… before it got back up into the 70s on Wednesday…), it somehow feels lacking to just have a cold salad for dinner.
Hot brothy soups or simple meats and roasted vegetables seem like good options for now.
So I’m sharing with you today my favorite go-to crispy baked chicken thighs recipe. Sometimes I play around with it, or use a different spice rub, but every so often I just NEED to make these.
They’re super easy, pretty healthy (no creamy sauces or added fats, just the chicken skin itself), and pretty much the best baked chicken thighs you’ll ever consume.
This recipe sort of comes from my dad, who uses this sweet and spicy rub on his famous beer can chicken — you know, the kind where you stick half a can of beer up a chicken’s… er… stuffing hole, then throw it on the grill until the skin is nice and crispy and the meat is all beer-infused and juicy. My dad even keeps a glass bottle of the spice mixture in the pantry, with “Ron’s Rub” written on the side.
That was my most requested dinner when I came home to visit from college, and I’d pick the bones clean.
Although I’ve eaten a lot more chicken breasts in recent months, I definitely prefer dark meat, especially with bone-in chicken. So, I figured, why roast a whole chicken when I could just make the thighs?
I use the same spice rub but just throw the chicken thighs in a baking pan in the oven for a very convenient weeknight meal (and it was too cold to stand outside with the grill when I made these anyway!).
My favorite part of my dad’s beer can chicken is the crispy, seasoned skin — maybe even a little blackened from the grill if I’m lucky.
Fortunately, I can get the same effect from this recipe — I just use my oven’s broiler in the last couple minutes for some truly crispy baked chicken thighs. Just keep a close eye on them when you switch to the broiler. They can go from not crispy enough to completely black in a matter of a minute or two.
I like to take them out when I start seeing the first blackened, bubbled-up skin. The fire alarm inevitably goes off but it’s oh, soooo worth it for the crispiest most delicious chicken skin you can imagine.
It’s not just the crispiness but the flavor that is unbeatable! It’s the simplest spice rub to make with the most rewarding results — it’s just equal parts kosher salt, black pepper, brown sugar, and paprika. How easy is that to remember? The pepper and paprika provide a nice kick while the brown sugar balances it out with just a little sweetness.
And the meat is so, so tender and moist.
It takes like 5 minutes to prep and throw in the oven. And while it’s baking, you can make a nice vegetable side dish on the stove.
Oh my goodness, I need to make this again already. My mouth is watering just remembering it.
Seriously, do yourself a favor and make these crispy baked chicken thighs. Dooo it. You’ll never look back.
Sweet and Spicy Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs
- 4-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and set the oven shelf to the middle setting.
- In a small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, brown sugar, and paprika.
- Place chicken thighs skin-side up in a baking pan and spread out any bits of skin that might be hanging off the edges of the chicken thighs, to get maximum chicken skin surface area. Put a couple teaspoons of the spice mixture on each chicken thigh and pat down to help the spice rub stick.
- Bake for 45 minutes, then set the oven to broil. Keep a close eye on the chicken, checking every 30 seconds to 1 minute. When the skin just starts to bubble up a little or get the first blackened spots, remove from the oven (about 1 1/2-4 minutes, usually).
- Wave any smoke away from your fire alarm.