Main Course/ Recipes

Cajun Chicken Thighs

Tender, juicy, baked chicken thighs marinated with a zesty homemade cajun seasoning make for one of the easiest, tastiest meals ever. Add some veggies to the pan a super simple one pan dinner!

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Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?

Of course! You’ll need to adjust the baking time because breasts cook more quickly than thighs and are prone to drying out if over-cooked, especially if you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

I like to cut chicken breasts in half before marinating them for a couple of reasons. First you have more surface area to marinate than if you keep them whole, which means more flavor in every bite. And secondly, the smaller pieces cook faster and stay juicier. I would cook them at the same temperature (425 F), but check them after about 15 minutes.

For maximum flavor, you could even cut the breasts into 1 inch chunks and skewer them if you like. They are amazing on the grill, but baking them in the oven works great too!

Homemade Cajun Seasoning

I’m a little obsessed with Cajun seasoning. It is definitely my go-to seasoning when have a piece of meat or fish that I don’t know what to do with. A little sprinkle of Cajun seasoning instantly livens everything up!

The best part is that you probably have everything you need to make it in your pantry already. Here’s what you need:

  • Paprika (you can use sweet or smoked paprika)
  • Onion powder
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried oregano
  • Cayenne pepper (feel free to increase the cayenne for more heat! You can also add some crushed red pepper flakes to bump it up, if you like)
  • Salt and pepper

You can use this Cajun seasoning as a “blackening” seasoning, where you just sprinkle it on some meat or fish that’s been dipped in butter, and quickly pan fry it. This creates a charred spice crust that is really delicious.

But in this case, we’re using it in a marinade so the flavor infuses the meat as much as possible before we cook it.

Here’s the step-by-step!

How to Make Cajun Chicken Thighs

  1. Combine the paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, honey, and whole grain mustard.
  2. Whisk in the olive oil.

Cajun Chicken Thighs, chicken thighs, dark meat, easy chicken, baked chicken, dinner, coco and ash

3. Trim and discard excess fat from the chicken thighs and add the thighs to the marinade. Stir to coat well. At this point, you can safely leave the chicken to marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, or marinate in the refrigerator for 4 hours or a maximum of 2 days.

4. Transfer the thighs to a baking sheet, shaking off the excess marinade. Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper.

*I like to add some potatoes tossed in olive oil to the pan for an easy one pan meal. I also add the squeezed lemon halves to the pan and then squeeze some juice onto the thighs after they’re cooked.

Cajun Chicken Thighs, chicken thighs, dark meat, easy chicken, baked chicken, dinner, coco and ash

5. Bake at 425 F for about 25-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through (165 F on a meat thermometer). If the skin starts to get too dark before the chicken is cooked, you can cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.

Cajun Chicken Thighs, chicken thighs, dark meat, easy chicken, baked chicken, dinner, coco and ash

You can sprinkle them with sliced green onions to serve, if you like. This is one of our favorite simple, tasty weeknight meals.

Cajun Chicken Thighs, chicken thighs, dark meat, easy chicken, baked chicken, dinner, coco and ash

What Can I Serve with Cajun Chicken Thighs?

So many options! If you prefer to make your sides separately instead of adding vegetables to the pan, or if you’re cooking for a crowd, these thighs would go great with:

Cajun Chicken Thighs

Tender, juicy, baked chicken thighs marinated with a zesty homemade cajun seasoning make for one of the easiest, tastiest meals ever. Add some veggies to the pan a super simple one pan dinner!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Marinating TIme1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Ann Otis

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 8 thighs)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper adjust to taste or add some crushed red pepper for extra heat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice from about 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • sliced green onions for garnish optional

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the paprika, onion powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper, honey, mustard, and lemon juice. Reserve the juiced lemon. Whisk in the olive oil.
  • Place the chicken thighs in the bowl and turn to coat thoroughly. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 2 days, or 30 minutes to an hour at room temperature.
  • Transfer the chicken thighs to a large baking sheet and add the squeezed lemon halves to the pan.*
  • Bake at 425 F for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is browned and crispy. If the chicken starts to get too dark before it's fully cooked, cover it loosely with a sheet of foil.

Notes

*If you like, you can add some potato chunks, Brussels sprouts, carrots, or another vegetable to the pan to cook alongside the chicken. Simply toss them with olive oil and salt and pepper first (or use any remaining marinade). The listed vegetables will take about the same time to roast as the chicken.  Smaller vegetables like green beans should be added halfway through cooking.

Cajun Chicken Thighs, chicken thighs, dark meat, easy chicken, baked chicken, dinner, coco and ash

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