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Sheet pan chicken thighs on plate with warm panzanella salad and sheet pan in background
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Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs with Winter Panzanella Salad (GF Option!)

This one-pan dinner of perfectly roasted chicken thighs with a winter panzanella 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).
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: sheet pan chicken, sheet pan chicken thighs, winter panzanella salad
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 475˚F (245˚C). Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil (if using foil, rub it lightly with oil or spritz 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˚F (70-75˚C).
  • 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.

Notes

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 my husband 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.
  • A good-quality, instant read thermometer is a must when roasting meats. 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.
  • 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!