The Best Oven Baked Crispy Chicken
I’m reposting this recipe because this oven baked crispy chicken is my family’s favorite chicken recipe ever and it gets made weekly in my house! If you’re a fan of chicken, then you need to make this ASAP!
The chicken tastes like picnic fried chicken, but there’s no frying involved, and the coating on this chicken is down right amazing, and gluten-free, grain-free and chock-full f healthy ingredients, but you would never know that! The chicken is dredged in almond meal and nutritional yeast, and has a pop of flavor from the cayenne pepper and smoked paprika.
Let’s be honest about chicken here, most of the time the crispy skin of chicken is the best part and the inside meat is OK, but usually lacking in flavor, and tends to be on the drier side, but not when you brine it. When you brine chicken, the meat is chock-full of flavor and is SO tender and juicy, as the meat absorbs the extra liquid and salt, resulting in a juicer and more flavorful end product.
When I first made this recipe it was actually my first time brining chicken, and I have to say that I was a bit freaked out at the thought of it. The thought of putting raw chicken into a bowl of room temp water and letting it sit in there for 4 hours seems strange and kind of gross. I thought the chicken would come out all white in color and wet and soggy, but it was a worthwhile experiment, as the chicken was ultra juicy, tender and the skin was all crispy. Honestly this is the best chicken I’ve ever had.
The coating for these bad boys is grain-free, so if you have celiac disease, are gluten-intolerant, or just want to cut back on unrefined grains, then this is the recipe you’ve been looking for. The skin has amazing texture and flavor from the combination of almond meal, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and nutritional yeast. The nutritional yeast lends a cheesy, nutty tangy flavor.
Nutritional yeast? Don’t balk at the fact that there’s nutritional yeast in this coating, nutritional yeast is not your typical yeast, it has a cheesy flavor and is used a lot in vegan cooking to give a cheesy flavor to popcorn, pizza and sauces. It actually tastes pretty good, and is a complete protein, providing all 18 amino acids! It’s also a good source of fiber, and contains B-complex vitamins, so why not give it a try, it’s only got good stuff going on!
The only downside to this recipe is that you have to think about it in advance because you will need to brine the chicken anywhere from 1-4 hours (3-4 being optimal). I tend to make this chicken up on a Sunday, so I have leftovers for either dinner or lunch that week. You can make as much of this chicken as you want, all you have to do is adjust the quantities for the brine and breading.
The Best Oven Baked Crispy Chicken
recipe from Nourished Kitchen
Note: You have to plan ahead to make this, as the chicken will need 3-4 hours to brine before baking. The brining only takes 5 minutes to put together and then sits in the fridge (see my video below). The actually baking time only takes 30 minutes though!
Note: The below chicken quantities are really up to you and depend on the size of your family, and what leftovers you want. Adjust the breading quantities based on the amount of chicken you’re making. I usually make a double batch of the almond flour breading.
For the brine: The chicken will need to brine anywhere from 1-4 hours, 3-4 hours is optimal, don’t brine the chicken for any more than 4 hours, as it can get salty.
- 5-6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs, or 5 thighs and 1 breast, or 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks – see my above note on chicken quantities – You can use any combination of chicken pieces for this recipe, even bone-in, skin on breasts (though they take longer than thighs to cook). We just prefer the darker meat, as it has more protein and way more flavor.
- 3 tablespoons Celtic sea salt – Don’t use table salt. Table salt contains iodine, which doesn’t work with brining.
- 1 tablespoon honey – honey adds a depth of flavor
- 1-2 quarts warm/room temp water – you want enough water to cover all of the chicken
For the breading: I usually double the below recipe, as I like to add the breading under the skin of the chicken as well.
- 1 cup almond meal flour – if you have a nut allergy, you could use ground flax meal
- 2 teaspoons fine Celtic sea salt
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Below is a video I created to take the fear away from brining chicken. I also share tips about choosing chicken, and how to prepare it.
In a large (large enough to hold all the water and chicken) stainless steel or glass bowl, (don’t use plastic) whisk together 3 tablespoons sea salt, 1 tablespoon honey and 1-2 quarts warm water to create a brine (the amount of water you need will be based on your bowl and the amount of chicken you have).
Place chicken thighs (breasts or drumsticks) into the brine, cover, and transfer to the refrigerator. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Make sure that there is enough water to submerge the chicken, if not, add more water.
When the chicken is finished brining, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Take each piece of chicken out of the brining liquid, and pat each piece throughly dry with a paper towel, and place dried chicken on a plate. Drying the chicken thighs will keep your chicken from getting soggy.
In a shallow bowl, gently whisk together the almond meal, sea salt, nutritional yeast, thyme, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Dredge the chicken thighs one by one in the seasoned breading until well-coated on all sides. I always put some breading under the skins as well, so there’s more flavor. Arrange them presentation side (that’s the skin side) down in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven. Take the chicken out from the oven, and then using a pair of tongs turn over each thigh so the skin side is facing up. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Below is what the chicken looks like after 20 minutes.
Bake the chicken for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Increasing the oven’s temperature to 425 helps to ensure a crispy skin. Don’t worry if your thighs cook to 170 degrees or a bit above, thigh meat doesn’t get dry like breast meat and still tastes amazing at 170 degrees. I honestly pull mine out at the 170 degree mark most times.
Note: If your chicken is finished cooking, but not browned to your liking, then you can place the chicken under your boiler for a few minutes to brown up the skin, but make sure to take it off the parchment paper as you don’t want that to burn!
Note: Baking times vary as chicken cuts vary in size. My chicken cuts were on the smaller side, so my total baking time was roughly 30 minutes. Don’t worry if you overcook the thighs, brined dark meat chicken is very forgiving and still tastes great even if it’s overcooked! Below is what the chicken looks like after its finished cooking.
This chicken can sit for 15 minutes before serving, as the flavors meld and it doesn’t have to be hot to be enjoyed, so don’t stress on the timing of dinner. It’s also AMAZING cold!
That’s it! Pretty easy right? We love serving this chicken up with popovers, our favorite kale or arugula salad, sautéed green beans and shallots, sautéed broccolini and shallots. The popovers are amazing dipped in the leftover chicken coating!
Got leftovers? This chicken makes for awesome leftovers! I wrap a few pieces of cold chicken in some parchment paper and then wrap that with aluminum foil, toss it in the kid’s lunches with some leftover kale salad or seasonal fruit!
You can also re-heat the chicken in a 250-degree oven till warm. If the leftover chicken’s coating gets soggy, just place it under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up again.
I paired a leftover drumstick with an arugula salad with heirloom tomatoes, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, roasted beets and sweet potato tossed in my healthy hemp seed dressing. Leftovers rock!
Like chicken? Then try one of our other favorite chicken recipes.