The Best Oven Baked Crispy Chicken
These drumsticks/thighs are finger licking awesome, not good, but awesome and that’s why I’m calling them the best oven baked crispy chicken! If you’re a fan of chicken, then you need to make this ASAP!
My kids and I LOVED and totally devoured this chicken. The kids literally ate every bit of chicken off that bone and even had seconds! We couldn’t believe how flavorful, tender and juicy the chicken was. It tasted like picnic fried chicken, but there’s no frying involved, and the coating on this chicken is down right amazing and grain-free and chock-full of healthy ingredients, but you would never know that! When I told the kids that the chicken was dredged in almond meal and nutritional yeast, they just rolled their eyes and smiled at one another, because they know how crazy their mama is getting now that she’s in natural chef school, but they’re totally open to all of it!
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.
This 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, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutritional yeast (yes, I used nutritional yeast folks). 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. Ok, let’s make us up some finger licking good chicken!!
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 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. Zoe usually has a thigh and drumstick, Eli has 2 drumsticks and I have a thigh, then we have leftovers for school lunch the next day. Easy peasy! Adjust the breading quantities based on the amount of chicken you’re making.
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.
- 6 chicken drumsticks and 2 thighs (bone-in, skin-on) 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. We just prefer the darker meat, as it has more protein and way more flavor.
- 3 tablespoons 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:
- 1 cup almond meal flour
- 2 teaspoons celtic sea salt – Light Grey Celtic coarse sea salt, 1 lb. bagI love this brand as it’s unrefined and chock-full of minerals
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast –Bragg Nutritional Yeast Seasoning, Premium, 4.5 Ounce I love this brand from Bragg
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
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 2 quarts warm water to create a brine.
Place chicken drumsticks and thighs 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 out the chicken drumsticks and thighs and pat each piece of chicken throughly dry with a paper towel. Drying the chicken drumsticks and thighs will keep your chicken from getting soggy.
In a shallow bowl, gently whisk together the almond meal, seal salt, nutritional yeast, thyme, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Dredge the chicken drumsticks and thighs in the seasoned breading until well-coated on all sides. Arrange them presentation side down in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven, then turn over each drumstick and thigh, and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake 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.
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.
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 meat, brined dark meat chicken is very forgiving and still tastes great even if it’s overcooked!
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 (the bomb.com)! Leftovers rock! Amazing dinner!
Like chicken? Then try one of our other favorite chicken recipes.