Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs

Do you remember being a kid and wondering in the kitchen around dinner time to check out what your Mom was making and the sheer jubilation you’d feel when you unexpectedly found out it was something you LOVED?  When I was growing up I secretly loved it when my Dad travelled for business because it meant when he got home he’d pull out gift-shop trinkets from his suitcase, we could sneak into Mom’s bed at night since there was an open spot, and we also got to have spaghetti for dinner.  He didn’t like spaghetti, so as soon as he left, we’d start boiling noodles and we all loved spaghetti night.   Another all-time favorite was French Dips, which we always make (and actually still make) with good sliced deli meat instead of our yummy slowcooker version.  Chicken Divan is another classic family favorite, but if I had to pick just one- one meal that that I loved and adored, one meal that to this day the smell melts me into a pool of delicious nostalgia, it would undoubtedly be my Mother’s Rice Krispie Chicken.

crispy chicken thighs

Looking back I can see this meal is quick, easy, and inexpensive.  My Mom probably made it up one day when rummaging through bare cupboards but to us it was magic.  Tender juicy chicken is coated with the most buttery, savory topping that’s delicately crispy and soooo delicious.   When my sister was in town over the holidays, she mentioned she makes it a lot for company and every single time her guests rave like crazy about it.  Neither of us really use a “recipe” so I asked her to walk me through how she makes it and we do basically the same thing, but I did add an extra seasoning from her tips and it made it even better.  I’m glad she reminded me of this though because I was surprised I had never shared this recipe before seeing as it’s one of my lifetime favorites and go-to’s for quick family dinner that everyone loves.

Guys it’s so easy!  First thing you’ll need is boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  Don’t ask me if you can make this with chicken breasts or chicken tenders.  I know you were about to.  I know the world is obsessed with boneless skinless chicken breasts but branch out a little, people.  There are a couple reasons thighs are your best best here and I’ll explain later in the post.  This recipe is so simple and easy, though!  You’ll just need your prepped chicken and two bowls- one with a stick of melted butter, and one with rice krispie cereal.   Dip both sides of the chicken in the butter

crispy baked chicken thighs dipped in butter

and then plop it into the rice krispies.  Now one trick here is to only dip the top side in cereal.  My mom only dipped the top to save on calories, but honestly if you dip the bottom as well, it tends to get soggy, so just do the tops.  I usually dip the top and then flip it over in my hand and use my fingers to crush on extra cereal and press it into the top.  Basically getting in as much cereal as you can on there.

crispy baked chicken

Then just place on a baking sheet.

You’ll sprinkle seasonings over the top of everything.  There are no measurements here because it depends on the size of your chicken and also you are smart people and I believe in your ability to properly sprinkle seasonings.  I’ve tried these with a lot of different seasoning combos, and you are certainly welcome to experiment at this point, but my favorite is still our classic family combo my sister always goes with: Garlic powder, Lawry’s seasoned salt, lemon pepper, and onion powder.  I hadn’t been doing lemon pepper but that’s the one my sister told me to throw on there and it was perfect.  It doesn’t make it taste lemon-y at all, just adds lots of flavor!

seasonings for chicken

Just sprinkle a good amount over all the chicken pieces and you’re good to go!  See?  So easy!

seasoned crispy chicken

This just goes into a pre-heated 400 degree oven and cooks for 20-25 minutes.  Now here’s where that other benefit of using chicken thighs comes to play.  You need to accomplish 2 things here- cooking the chicken to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, and also getting a golden-brown crispy topping.  With chicken breasts, you need to take them out right at 165, or even a tad bit under, or it will be dry and tough.  But at that point the topping isn’t always done.  With thighs you get much more wiggle room since they can handle being cooked a little longer past temperature and still stay nice and juicy. That way you get cooked chicken AND the perfect topping.  Plus the thighs with their little bit of additional fat created a far superior topping when all is said and done.

baked crispy chicken thighsWhen I was little my most favorite part of this meal was after dinner when everyone was going back and forth clearing the table and every time we passed by the pan on the counter picking off those little crispy, salty baked-on bits.  Okay it’s still my favorite part.  This topping is unlike any other.  Because those rice krispies are so delicate, they are able to soak up a little butter and turn into the most buttery crunch.  It combines with the savory seasonings and the bite of tender chicken and the whole thing is just perfection.

I love that one of my favorite childhood meals is now one of my kid’s favorite meals!  This is so quick and easy and requires so few ingredients that’s it’s a great go-to.  I often keep a box of rice krispies up on the top shelf of my pantry where my kids can’t actually eat it as cereal and I have it for recipes like this, and also these.  Let me know how you like this one- I can’t wait for you to try it!

crispy baked chicken thighs

Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs

4.75 from 4 votes
A delicious and simple recipe with tender juicy chicken and a buttery-crisp topping!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 stick butter 8 tablespoons
  • rice krispie cereal
  • Lawry's Seasoned Salt
  • lemon pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Pat chicken dry and use a clean pair of kitchen shears (or a pair of regular scissors that's been washed with soap and hot water- just pop them in the dishwasher after!) to trim off any excess fat.
  • Melt butter in a shallow dish.  Pour several cups of rice krispy cereal in a separate dish.  Use your hands to very lightly crush the cereal just a few times.
  • Dip each chicken piece in butter on both sides and then dip the top side in the cereal.  Use your had to press a little more cereal onto the top and then place on a baking sheet.
  • When all chicken pieces have been placed on the baking sheet, sprinkle all pieces with each spice (seasoning salt, lemon pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.) If there is any extra butter in your dish you can gently drizzle it over the chicken.
  • Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 and also the cereal is golden brown and crisp.

Notes

You can make as much or as little chicken as you like!  I included measurements on the chicken and butter so you know that I usually use 1 stick per about 8 thighs.  When it comes to the cereal and seasonings, it's not hard to eyeball and the exact amount will vary depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
Author: Sara Wells
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    The first time I made this I was hesitant. I didn’t know if my little kids would actually eat it because of the lemon pepper. I was tempted to leave that ingredient out, but am so glad I didn’t. They loved it! Now they request for me to make this regularly!

  2. Love this new twist! I have been making something almost the same for about 30 years, but my recipe calls for evaporated milk instead of butter. I think I will try butter! Thank you!! Your pictures look exactly like my chicken does. It’s a big favorite dinner in our house!

  3. I know this recipe is a few years old. Since Air-Fryers are the new thing, do you think these would work in the air fryer?

  4. I get that it’s awesome with dark meat (thighs are my favorite), but my crew just absolutely despises dark meat. I would still like to try this. Cooking time adjustment advice for chicken breasts?

    1. It would depend on the thickness of your chicken, I would just use an intant-read digital thermometer and cook until internal temp reaches 165.

  5. 4 stars
    My Mom used to make this when we were growing up, I’m in my 60’s now, only we always put the cereal in a ziploc and crushed them up a bit until it looked like meal then dipped the buttered chicken into them. And we always used bone -in chicken, s&p the pieces, and then baked on a foil covered pan until the coating that is near the chicken gets caramelized, for thighs that’s about an hour to 1.25 hours. and there are so many ways one can tweak this recipe too!

  6. 5 stars
    Oh my gracious, this was sooooo good!!! I’m glad you said to only coat the top in the cereal so the bottom isn’t soggy, just flavorful. We will definitely be making these again!

  7. These were so quick, easy, and tasty! I love how the lemon pepper seasoned the chicken and they had a nice crunch. My family loved them, too!

  8. 5 stars
    Oh my gosh! We have made this recipe about 3 times in the last month. It is AMAZINGLY TASTY and so easy! Our kids totally devour this, and there are no leftovers. Plus, you can get a pack of 8 chicken thighs at WinCo here in Boise for about $6-$7… so it is TOTALLY budget friendly too! Love it!!!

  9. I knew this would be good based on the reviews but WOW!! I am totally blown away. A new family favorite for sure!! I love all of your recipes though. Your first cookbook taught me how to cook! Thanks for everything!

    1. I cover both top and bottom of the chicken and put it on a rack so air circulates around each piece on a foil lined cookies sheet. That way it doesnt get soggy on the bottom. You can still eat those tasty bits off the filet and you get the extra crust!

  10. I’m excited to try this! It will be easy to make it Gluten Free by using the malt o meal rice krispies. Sometimes it’s hard to find simple GF recipes. Thank you!

  11. We liked this but I thought it was a little salty, next time I won’t use the Lawry’s, just the garlic, onion and lemon pepper. Or maybe it was too salty because I used salted butter?

  12. These turned out alright. I think that the meat could have used being brined first, as the thick parts of the thigh on bottom tasted really plain, almost gamey. My husband wasn’t a big fan of the coating. I liked it. I would say to err on the side of over seasoning. I added way more than I would normally (say if I was roasting plain meat) and it was barely enough. My kids really liked this!

  13. Tried this tonight – I tried both chicken tenders/breasts and thighs. I can’t handle the richness/extra fat of the thighs- but this worked for both types of meat. Actually got a request to “eat it again”. Thanks

  14. I am going to try this tomorrow night! I also love that this is naturally Gluten Free!! Hooray!!

  15. This looks delicious! I like to eat chicken and this recipe will be one of my favorite dish.

  16. Oh I’m totally making this tonight. All I have thawed is bone-in thighs tho (leg quarters, actually… I’ll just cut em apart), but I’m gonna have to try it out anyway!!! Not one of your recipes have ever failed me. ?

  17. My mother made nearly the same recipe, but instead of dipping in butter she used Italian salad dressing. It was definitely a family favorite.

  18. I can’t wait to try these! Thighs for the win 🙂

    Also, I’d love to know how to make French Dips with the good, sliced deli meat! I love French Dips with a roast, but the sliced kind sounds awesome (and maybe quicker), too!

    1. It’s not hard- seriously just butter and toast buns and whip up a packet of ajus (I use McCormicks dry mix!). While the ajus is heating, butter and broil/toast buns. When the ajus comes to a boil, take it off the heat and drop in some nice sliced deli roast beef (like from the actual deli, fresh sliced not a package) into it. Use tongs to immediately transfer the meat to the buns, drop on a couple slices of provolone put them back in the oven with the broiler turned off just to melt the cheese. That’s it! Dip and eat 🙂

    1. Yep! They usually still have some excess fat, which you can totally leave on there, but I like to take a pair of chicken shears and just trim them up.

  19. Oh this is happening, like tonight! Love “nostalgic favorites” like this…one of my Mom’s was “Weight Watcher’s Chicken” circa the 80’s (I don’t know that the WW of today would appreciate this endorsement..haha)…it was basically chicken pieces sprinkled with garlic powder and paprika, cooked in an electric skillet with chicken bouillon cubes and water until the water evaporated. #classy I loved walking in the house and getting a whiff of that garlicky chicken goodness. It’s the sole reason that even now, I allow a bulky electric skillet to take up valuable real estate in my cupboards, that recipe still makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Awe…I love memories like this! My Mom totally used an electric skillet almost every night to cook meat!

  20. Those look yummy. I really need to try them. I agree with you that chicken thighs are under used, and much better in a lot of recipes. It made me smile that you have seven rice Krispie treats recipe on the blog. That’s awesome 🙂

  21. I grew up with in the same town as your grandparents and we’re actually related on the Bunker side. I probably even babysat for you a time or two when you were in La Crescenta visiting! This recipe was always one that we had at my house and my mom and your grandma were such good friends I’m certain that it came from her. I learned so much from helping your grandma at her parties. You are just like her!

    1. Oh my goodness, I totally remember you Doyles! Norma was amazing, right?? She’s totally my entertaining inspiration. Thanks for leaving a comment, I love hearing from people I have a connection to 🙂

      1. I’ve so enjoyed your recipes because so many of them are Norma inspired and they bring back such happy memories for me. So many wedding reception and party how tos and fun things I learned from her and now you! I know she’s proud of you!