These sheet pan chicken thighs get roasted and served over a warm panzanella salad for a one-pan dinner you’re going to love.
There are few foods as heavenly as perfectly roasted chicken, and these sheet pan chicken thighs are foolproof (new video below!). You end up with juicy, flavorful meat and gorgeously crispy skin. Best of all, since the chicken roasts over a warm panzanella salad, you also end up with a complete, one-pan meal. Choir please!
If you follow me on Instagram stories, you might know that panzanella, or bread salad, is a staple in our house in the summer. It’s traditionally made with fresh tomatoes and stale bread, and I could happily eat it every single day while tomatoes are in season. But alas, since summer seems to last about a wink here in the Hudson Valley, the rest of the year I turn to this version. It incorporates wedges of fennel and red onion, torn kale leaves, chunks of baguette (which toast up in the oven) and lemon wedges (which turn caramelized and sweet). The salad gets tossed with a roasted garlic vinaigrette, and is a sweet-tart-bitter-caramelized-crispy-comforting kind of thing (which, in my opinion, is the best kind). I pile the chicken thighs right over the salad for a damn fine meal that’s just as fitting on a Tuesday as it is at a weekend shindig. (But seriously, who says “shindig” anymore? Me.)
Sheet pan chicken
I not only love chicken thighs for their rich flavor, but also because they cook in only thirty minutes! The key to perfectly roasted, juicy chicken is to remove it from the oven when the internal temperature reads 165 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. One of my top five kitchen tools is my ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4, which is seriously the thermometer of all thermometers (it’s also the number one brand recommended by Cooks Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen). It’s the fastest and most accurate thermometer out there, and I use it for not only meats and fish, but also to test the doneness of breads, cakes, custards and candy. It will change the way you cook, I promise (no more poking and prodding!).
Sheet Pan Dinner Tips
- You can serve one or two chicken thighs per person, depending on how hungry you are and the size of the thighs. I usually go for two thighs for James and I, and one for each kid. Feel free to use drumsticks in place of the thighs.
- For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free baguette. I use one of the small baguettes in an Udi’s 8.4-ounce package (half the package). A gluten-free baguette is featured in these photos, and a regular baguette is used in the video.
- Cut the red onion and fennel into wedges, leaving the cores intact (the cores will hold the wedges together). You can check out how to do this in the video below.
- The chicken roasts at a high temperature, allowing it to cook quickly. This means your oven might get a bit smoky, but don’t fear! Turn on your fan if you have one, or crack a window if you have a finicky fire alarm like I do.
- The key to perfectly roasting chicken is to cook it to 165 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit, and a good-quality instant read thermometer is a must. I recommend this Thermapen Mk4, which is the most sensitive and accurate thermometer I’ve found. I use it for everything from burgers, to fish, to bread and custard.
- You’ll need a sturdy, rimmed sheet pan for this recipe, like this one. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I adore these pre-cut parchment sheets, which have improved my quality of life by an embarrassing measure (check out my shop for more of my kitchen favorites!).
- You have the option of using a mini food processor for the dressing. I use mine for all kinds of sauces, dressings and toppings (you can find a bunch of other food processor recipes in my first book, The Food Processor Family Cookbook!).
- For a different take on a sheet pan chicken dinner, try these Roasted Chicken Thighs with Potatoes and Kale with Garlic Aioli!
Thank you to ThermoWorks for sponsoring this blog post! While I was compensated for the post, all opinions are mine alone.
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Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Warm Panzanella Salad (GF Option!)
This one-pan dinner of perfectly roasted chicken thighs with a warm bread salad is comfort food at its very best. The chicken thighs are roasted over wedges of fennel and red onion, torn kale leaves, chunks of baguette (which toast up in the oven) and lemon wedges (which turn caramelized and sweet), imparting flavor to the chicken (and vice versa). The vegetables and bread are then tossed with a roasted garlic vinaigrette to make an irresistible salad to accompany the chicken. Heaven! For a gluten-free version, use a small gluten-free baguette, such as Udi’s brand (half of a 8.4-ounce package).
- 1 medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 1 medium fennel bulb, halved and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- 4 cups coarsely torn Tuscan kale leaves, from about 1 small bunch
- 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 small lemon, preferably organic
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 French baguette or 1 small gluten-free baguette (such as Udi’s brand), torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups torn)
- 6-8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil (if using foil, rub it lightly with oil or spray it with cooking spray).
- In a large bowl, combine the onion, fennel, kale and garlic cloves. Using a microplane, zest the lemon and add the zest to the bowl. Thinly slice the lemon into rings and pop out the seeds. Add the lemon slices to the bowl, and drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat. Spread the vegetables on the prepared sheet pan. Arrange the torn baguette pieces evenly over top.
- In the same bowl you used for the vegetables (no need to wash it), add the chicken thighs, oregano, paprika, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, and toss well to coat the chicken. Arrange the chicken, skin side up, on top of the vegetables and bread on the sheet pan.
- Roast the chicken for 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate (it won’t be fully cooked yet). Gently stir the vegetables and bread on the baking sheet. Rearrange the chicken on top, positioning any darkened pieces of bread under the chicken. Roast 12-15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear and the internal temperature reads 165-170 degrees F.
Transfer the chicken to a clean plate. If you’re using a gluten-free baguette, slide the pan back in the oven for 2-4 minutes to crisp up the bread (there’s no need to do this if using a regular baguette, as it holds up better). Pick the garlic cloves off the sheet pan, and squeeze them into a mini food processor or small blender (alternatively, if the garlic cloves are soft enough and/or if you’re feeling lazy, mash them up with a fork). Add the apple cider vinegar and maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Process until smooth. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil and process again until incorporated.
- Scrape the vegetables and bread into a large bowl, and drizzle with about half of the dressing. Toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper to taste (feel free to add more dressing if you think it needs it). Spoon the salad into shallow bowls or onto plates. Arrange 1-2 pieces of chicken on top, and drizzle with a bit more dressing. Serve any additional dressing at the table.
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