The Seasoned Traveler

Recipes and remedies using herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients from the world's pantry

Lemon, Saffron & Paprika Roasted Chicken Thighs


IMG_5606I love that this recipe achieves juicy, flavorful chicken and a nicely crisped skin, and can be made in one all-purpose pan. Saffron, the world’s most expensive spice, is also the most exquisite, and is known in Persian culture to lift one’s spirit and treat depression. Here, combined with zingy lemon and paprika, it makes one happy dish.

I adapted this dish from a Bon Appetit recipe that uses a different flavor profile and boneless chicken thighs. Since my local grocery store offers only bone-in chicken thighs attached to the drumsticks, I separated them at the joint and used both thighs and drumsticks. Tonight I served the chicken over a bed of jeweled saffron & cardamom rice and spooned the sauce over the top. It made for an elegant spread, and our house still smells delicious!

Lemon, Saffron, & Paprika Roasted Chicken Thighs (& Drumsticks)

(Adapted from Bon Appetit‘s January 2013 recipe, “Roasted Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Oregano”)

  • 1 lemon
  • 4 chicken thighs and 4 drumsticks, or 8 small chicken thighs, bone in
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • generous sprinkles of ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 1 minced clove of garlic
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • pinch of saffron (5-6 threads)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (210 C). Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper and ground paprika.
  2. Coat a large room-temperature skillet (one that is oven-safe) with 1 teaspoon oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, and pouring off excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan, until chicken is cooked halfway through, 10-15 minutes. If using drumsticks, you may turn them to brown all sides. (Note: you may need to do the chicken in batches so as not to crowd the pan).
  3. Scatter half of lemon slices over chicken and half on bottom of skillet (the slices on top of the chicken will soften; those in the skillet will caramelize). Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened lemon slices in the skillet.) Return skillet to medium heat. Add shallot and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Remove skillet from heat. Add sherry; cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth and saffron; cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, more paprika (optional) and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

Author: Laura Haugen

Writer, Traveler, Foodie

4 thoughts on “Lemon, Saffron & Paprika Roasted Chicken Thighs

  1. So you need to use a skillet that can go in the oven? I would have to use a pot, I think, because we don’t have such a skillet. But it sounds delicious and not too complicated. Will try when I’m back. I look forward to the rice dish recipe now!

    • Thanks! Yes, it works best with an oven-safe skillet (I use my stainless-steel one). Let me know how it works if you use a pot. You might also just try a stove-top (non-stick) skillet and then transfer to a baking dish, but increase the time in the oven (and preheat the dish too so you don’t transfer to a cold dish). I think chicken is pretty forgiving if you roast it a little longer than necessary. Hope you enjoy the flavors here; I love this spice combo!

  2. Pingback: Jeweled Saffron & Cardamom Rice with Sultanas, Pomegranate & Almond Slivers | The Seasoned Traveler

  3. Pingback: A Festive Recipe Roundup | The Seasoned Traveler

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