This is one of those recipes that feels a little ridiculous to write down, because it’s so simple. It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal, and you can use the leftovers to make so many other things. See Notes for tips on scaling the recipe up, options for making it a bit fancier, and recipes to use the leftovers in lots of other dishes.
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt (or half this amount if using table salt)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Optional: minced fresh herbs such as thyme, tarragon, parsley or oregano (or a combination)
Optional: a lemon or lime to squeeze over at the end (see notes)
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the oven rack in the middle position. Pat the chicken thighs dry. Brush the skin sides with oil and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper mixture. Lay them skin-side down in a small roasting pan, leaving a little space between each thigh. Brush the flesh sides with more oil, sprinkle with the rest of the salt and pepper mixture and a few pinches of the minced herbs if using.
2. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the thighs skin-side up and roast for another 10 minutes. Remove the thighs from the oven to take a look at them. They should be fully cooked by now (pan juices will be clear, not pink), but the skins may not be as brown as you would like them. If you’d like to brown the skins a bit more, turn on the broiler to high and slide the pan under it for a few minutes. Remove when the skins have browned.
3. Just before serving, sprinkle with more of the minced herbs, is using, and a squeeze of lemon or lime if desired.
This recipe calls for thighs because it's my go-to chicken part for something like this. They're each about the right size for a single serving, they're juicier than breasts (so less likely to dry out) and full of flavorful dark meat, and they're quick and easy to roast.
I have a small roasting pan (about 13” x 10”) that is perfect for 6 chicken thighs. If your roasting pan is much larger, cover it with foil for the second half of cooking to prevent the thighs from drying out or the juices from scorching on the pan. With a larger pan, you also have the option of increasing the number of thighs to 8-10, in which case you can follow the recipe as written (with extra salt, pepper and olive oil of course), and don’t cover with foil during cooking.
Not only is this a simple weeknight meal, but it's also a great make-ahead strategy. You can use a larger pan to roast a double batch, then use the leftovers to pull together more meals: diced chicken tossed into a salad, shredded chicken in lettuce wraps or burritos, or a casserole.
I decide whether to use the optional herbs and lemons/limes based on what I have on hand, what I’m serving with it, and what I might want the leftovers for. Sometimes my chicken gets none of those extras, other times it gets the whole shebang.