Main Dishes

Easy Low Carb Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs

April, 2020

These juicy lemon garlic chicken thighs are all you need for a solid weeknight meal with mouth-watering flavours! The chicken is marinated in fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and Dijon mustard for a flavourful everyday meal!  Perfect addition to your weekly meal prep rotation!

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Four chicken thighs topped with lemon wedges and herbs on a blue plate

I love being able to play with different flavourings when it comes to chicken. I find it is the one type of poultry that can take on a wide range of flavour pairings: like this delightful Lemon and Garlic chicken recipe.

It goes without saying that this recipe is super simple – you can find the ingredients in your everyday grocery stores or supermarkets and the method is very easy. I find that this chicken is best baked in the oven, as the chicken tends to retain the moisture whilst giving you less work to do when cooking.

If you’re working from home, you might find it easier to cook whilst working but I still don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen!

Take me to the recipe! Explore video!
Roasted chicken thighs in juices topped with herbs and lemon wedges

Chicken Thighs or Chicken Breasts

We all know the saying “the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice”. Well, allow me to compare it to this age old debate: is chicken thigh or chicken breast better for you? Well, chicken thighs are known as “dark meat” simply because it has more myoglobin, giving it a more reddish colour.

Compared with white meat like chicken breasts, dark meat is richer in nutrients (hence the sweeter the juice) and in this case, has more fats which ultimately makes the chicken come out much juicer than its leaner counterpart. You all know that fats are good for you, right? If not, please comment and we can discuss!

However, chicken in general is very nutritious! Chicken breasts are leaner and quicker to cook compared to chicken thighs. So whichever one you choose, know that you are still making a great decision!

Ingredients in garlic, herb and lemon chicken marinade

  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme and sage
  • Dijon mustard

These ingredients are super simple but super important. You can substitute the fresh herbs for whatever you have on hand such as parsley or cilantro (coriander) but these are my favourite herbs to use. Basil may be a bit too strong for the kind of flavour we want here but if you prefer to use that – it’s your world! 

Don’t skip the mustard in this recipe. The mustard helps to provide a much more saucy and thick marinade that really sits on the chicken thighs. When baking in the oven, the sauce will thin out so the mustard helps to retain the “sauciness” of the marinade. I simply use this sauce to baste the chicken and pour onto the chicken when serving.

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6 step by step pictures showing his to make lemon garlic chicken thighs

How to make garlic and lemon chicken thighs

Time needed: 55 minutes.

These are the easy steps needed to make garlic and lemon chicken thighs from scratch!

  1. Add your seasonings and herbs to a small bowl

    Any bowl will do here of course

  2. Mix till fully incorporated.

    You should get a really thick marinade here so don’t try to water it down!

  3. Add marinade to the chicken. Stir through until all the chicken is coated

  4. Marinate!

    For 30mins – 1hr or overnight in the fridge. Cover the bowl with a lid or with foil. This is the one recipe I would say prep overnight because leaving the marinade to do its job will make this dish 10x tastier! That being said, if you only have the time for a 30min marinade, then no (serious) harm!

  5. Spread in a baking tray, adding more herbs, lemon and garlic.

    Tip: You don’t have to peel the garlic!

  6. Bake at 175C/350F for 40-45mins.

    Here’s a little tip for making your chicken thighs crispy out of the oven: place chicken skin side up and do not turn for the whole duration of cooking. Then for the last 5-7 minutes, turn up the heat to 200C and cook. This extra blast of heat will cause the chicken thigh skin to crisp up whilst still retaining the moisture on the inside of the chicken thigh.

Watch this simple video for help!

Tips for making lemon chicken

Should I make the marinade first?

I know sometimes we are trying to be economical and use one bowl but with this marinade, you want to mix it all first before adding it to the chicken. It will change the texture of the mustard (make it smoother) and ensure the lemon doesn’t dry out the chicken.

Don’t cook them cold!

Chicken thighs are best cooked from room temperature – leave them out for a bit once they have been marinated and then put in the oven for baking

Don’t overcrowd the pan!

Make sure there’s enough space for the chicken you are baking – if you can’t easily use a spoon to gather up the juices to baste the chicken then there is too much in the pan. Leaving a good amount of room allows the chicken to get crispy on all sides.

To sear or not to sear?

Searing your chicken before cooking is a nice way to brown your chicken before cooking and make the skin crispy. However, I dare to say you can skip this step entirely when making this recipe. Using my method above, you will get a nice crispy finish whilst ensuring the flesh stays juicy and moist (without the extra work and washing up!)

Six chicken thighs in juices topped with lemon and herbs in a white ceramic roasting tray

Best way to prepare chicken thighs: grilled or baked?

I always have this debate when it comes to making chicken. Actually, I don’t think there is a “best way” but the most convenient way for you depending on the recipe and time constraints. 

For my garlic and lemon chicken thigh recipe, I opt to use the oven to bake my chicken. Again, because this is my favourite way to retain the moisture in the chicken and ensure it remains flavourful and juicy with all of the fresh herb ingredients. 

I also bake the chicken whenever I use bone-in chicken thighs. This is because I find it is easier to make sure the chicken is completely cooked through without getting paranoid that it isn’t on a stove top or grill.

What to serve with lemon garlic chicken thighs?

As this paleo chicken recipe is also low carb and keto, you can take the whole dish in two directions. Either enjoy it with some cauliflower fried rice and steamed veggies to keep them low carb friendly. 

Otherwise, you can enjoy this with sweet potato mash or my favourite blueberry sweet potato salad recipe. Trust me, the flavours are amazing and it makes such a filling meal! 

Does lemon dry out chicken?

Lemon by itself can dry out chicken; however, this marinade uses olive oil and mustard which combats the drying effect of the lemon. Plus, the method used to make this recipe ensures the chicken thighs remain juicy and moist on the inside.

Easy Low Carb Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
50 mins
Try a different flavour with your chicken thighs with this lemon and herb chicken! Full flavoured chicken thighs that goes perfect with mashed sweet potatoes for an easy weeknight meal or meal prep!
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Paleo
Keyword: chicken
Servings: 6 thighs
Calories: 238 kcal
Author: WhittyPaleo
  • 5-6 chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (juice of whole lemon)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (zest of whole lemon)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp dried chillies
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard (heaping)
To top:
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • lemon wedges
  • fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.*
  2. Next, either using a large bowl or inside a large food bag, add your chicken thighs and marinade. Mix together until chicken is fully coated.
  3. Marinate for 30mins – 1hr or ideally overnight in the fridge.
  4. Preheat oven to 175C/350F.
  5. Place chicken thighs on a baking tray lined with foil*.
  6. Add more garlic, lemon wedges and fresh herbs.
  7. Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes.
  8. Turn chicken over, baste with juices and cook for another 5-10 minutes till chicken is browned.
  9. Once done, allow chicken to rest for 5 minutes.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

1. Mixture should look thick and creamy.
2. You can also use a ceramic baking tray which is what I use in my cooking video. I’m starting to prefer this too using the baking tray with foil or parchment paper.

If you have any difficulties making the recipe, please feel free to contact me and we’ll work through it together!

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