Looking to put a healthy spin on deep-fried chicken? This oven fried chicken thighs recipe provides the crispiest breading while keeping the meat inside tender and juicy.
Baking chicken is one of my favorite ways to cook this protein, as it never fails me. But I crave a deep-fried breaded chicken every once in a while (hello, KFC).
If you’ve tried our air fryer fried chicken before, you’ll love this oven baked version. The skin is crispy, while the meat is moist and juicy. The best part? There is no deep frying, so it has a fraction of the oil of traditional fried chicken.
Table of Contents
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- Ingredients to make oven fried chicken
- How to make oven fried chicken thighs
- Flavor variations
- Tips for success
- Serving suggestions
- Storage instructions
- Recommended tools to make this recipe
- More delicious chicken thigh recipes to try
- Frequently asked questions
- Oven Fried Chicken Thighs
Why you’ll love this recipe
For me, frying chicken in the oven is one of the best ways to get crispy chicken without fuss and mess. It’s also a healthier alternative to deep frying. My family ADORES fried chicken thighs, so I love making this as a delicious alternative.
- It’s super crispy. The flour cornstarch coating yields crunchy results even when the chicken is baked and not fried. Cornstarch is key- make sure you don’t skip it.
- It’s a lot healthier. Like air fryer chicken thighs, this recipe makes crispy breaded chicken without added oil. If deep-fried chicken is your jam, our fried chicken wings are always a hit.
- It’s mess-free. I hate how deep-frying chicken turns my stove into an oily mess. Oven ‘frying’ omits all of that.
If you’ve made our spicy or hot honey chicken sandwiches before, you’ll notice the ingredients are quite similar but the major difference is that none of the oil is needed! Here is what you’ll need.
- Chicken thighs. I like to use a mix of bone-in and boneless chicken thighs. Use your preferred cut. I also like to add some chicken drumsticks, too.
If you like white meat, use chicken breasts or wings instead. These cuts take less time to cook, so adjust the cooking time.
- Buttermilk. Thanks to its acidic properties, buttermilk helps tenderize the chicken.
If you don’t have buttermilk, use regular milk and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup.
- Salt and pepper. Add to taste.
For the breading:
- Flour. All-purpose flour works well for the breading. Swap it with gluten-free all-purpose flour if you can’t eat gluten.
- Cornstarch. The secret ingredient that yields a super crispy golden crust.
- Salt, pepper, smoked paprika. I feel like this crispy baked chicken doesn’t need any more seasoning.
How to make oven fried chicken thighs
As with any recipe that uses some form of breading, you need some order to keep things neat and easy. Here’s the easy way to cook them up.
Step 1 – Prepare your workstation
Add the buttermilk, salt, and pepper to a large mixing bowl and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and let them sit in the buttermilk for 10 minutes.
Step 2 – Bread the chicken thighs
In a shallow bowl, mix your breading ingredients. When it’s time for breading, use a pair of tongs to remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk. Allow the excess liquid to drip off. Dredge the chicken in the breading mixture, ensuring they are coated on all sides.
Step 3 – Bake
Grease a baking tray with oil. Parchment paper can prevent the chicken from sticking to the pan. Arrange the breaded chicken on the baking tray, leaving some space around each piece. Bake the chicken for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
The texture of this oven fried chicken is what makes it shine. But if you want to pump up its flavor, here are some variations.
- Use more spices and herbs. Chicken is one of the most versatile ingredients when it comes to seasonings. You can add a variety of spices and herbs to the breading to change up the flavor of the fried chicken. Some spices and herbs you can use are onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, and dried herbs like thyme, basil, and oregano.
- Add hot sauce to the buttermilk mixture. Be generous with it if you want some seriously hot chicken, and add only a drop or two if you want some subtle heat.
- Switch the breading. Use panko breadcrumbs instead of flour. Doing this will give the chicken a more texturized crunchy finish (it’s similar to Chicken Milanese or cutlets).
- If you have time, you can marinate the chicken thighs in buttermilk for up to 24 hours. The long marinating time will yield juicier and more tender results.
- When baking the chicken, place a wire rack set inside the baking tray. This creates hot air circulation around the chicken pieces, making them crispy on all sides.
- For the crispiest results, start with a very hot oven. Turn on the oven as soon as you start the chicken preparations.
Like any good chicken dish, the sides you can pair with it are pretty much unlimited. Here are some ideas:
- All the potatoes! My personal favorite, but our family adores some air fryer French fries or sweet potato fries. You can keep things simple with a simple baked white or sweet potato.
- Salads. Any simple green salad works, or something more elaborate like a green goddess or orzo salad.
- Sautéed vegetables. While the chicken is baking, quickly saute some broccolini, Brussels sprouts, carrots, or asparagus.
- Starches and grains. Simply steamed basmati rice is great, as is sushi rice for something a little different. You can keep the carbs down by trying it with cauliflower rice.
To store. Leftover chicken can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
To freeze. For the best results, flash-freeze the crispy chicken first. Then transfer it to an airtight bag, push out the excess air, and freeze for up to 6 months. Allow the chicken to defrost in the fridge before reheating it.
To reheat. Reheat the leftovers in the oven preheated to 350F degrees until heated through. Turn on the broiler for the last few minutes to make the breadcrumb coating extra crispy. Don’t reheat breaded chicken in the microwave, as it will become soggy.
Recommended tools to make this recipe
- Baking sheet. Non-stick and so easy to clean.
- Mixing bowls. My go-to bowls are perfect for just about everything.
- Wire rack. These are my favorite ones that also come with a baking tray attachment (which is so good for oven fried chicken thighs!).
More delicious chicken thigh recipes to try
Frequently asked questions
Yes, you can use this recipe to make deep-fried chicken. Prepare the chicken as instructed and fry it in oil preheated to 350F degrees. Chicken thighs and drumsticks take around 15 minutes to cook and get crispy. Check the internal temperature to make sure they are properly cooked.
Due to its lower starch content, flour doesn’t get as crispy as starch when fried. Instead, it prevents the chicken from drying out. Cornstarch, on the other hand, prevents gluten development and helps create a light and crispy coating. Cornstarch also helps achieve a nice golden color. To get the best of both worlds, use a mixture of flour and cornstarch.
The higher is the protein content in flour the more oil the crust will absorb. Thanks to its moderate protein content, all-purpose flour is the best flour to use for frying.
Oven Fried Chicken Thighs
- 2 lbs chicken thighs mix of boneless and bone-in
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, generously spray it with cooking spray, and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, add the chicken thighs, buttermilk, salt, and pepper, and let it sit for 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika together.
- Using tongs, pick up marinated chicken thighs and shake off excess buttermilk. Moving quickly, dip the chicken in the breading on both sides.
- Add the breaded chicken thighs on top and spray each one with more cooking spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Once the chicken is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 165F, remove them from the oven and serve immediately.
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