chinese food/dinner/meat/recipes

Easy Oven-Baked Sesame Chicken Thighs

Posted February 24, 2015 by Stephanie
easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe - easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

Because I’m all about those thighs, ’bout those thighs, ’bout those thighs.

I absolutely love chicken thighs. Well, to be honest, I love chicken in general, but if I had to choose a favorite part, it’d be thighs, hands down. Thighs are perfect for those nights when you just want to get a quick meal on the table without the fuss of worrying about whether or not your chicken breast is going to get overcooked and dry.

The other day, while wandering the aisles at the grocery store, I asked Mike, “why do people love chicken breasts so much – it’s SO expensive?!” For some weird reason I thought that people liked it as a sort of status symbol sort of thing: like check it out, I’m eating chicken breast because I can afford it. But no, Mike cleared it up for me: chicken breast is expensive because people like it.

True story: when I was a kid my mom tried to convince me that chicken breast was the best part of a chicken to eat. To think, for years I believed her! Now, she doesn’t even let my nephew touch chicken breast because it’s “too dry.” It’s true, chicken breast can be dry, but when it’s cooked well, I like it. But, you know what? I like breasts, but I LOVE thighs. I guess I’m just a legs girl.

What’s not to love about chicken thighs: they’re inexpensive, hard to overcook, and delicious. This oven-baked take on sesame chicken is an awesome way to highlight thighs. All you have to do is whisk together the marinade ingredients, pour it on, and bake it. Give it a brush halfway between the cooking time and you’ll get crispy skinned, juicy, super flavorful chicken. Done and done!

Take out at home: Easy Oven-Baked Sesame Chicken Thighs
serves 4-6
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 30-40 minutes
total time: 40 minutes

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 6-8 bone-in, skin on small chicken thighs
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • toasted sesame seeds
  • sliced green onions

Notes: It’s important to use the right size pan for this recipe – the chicken thighs should be snug and touching each other, so that the thighs are sitting in a small pool of marinade. If you have the time, marinate the thighs overnight, flipping and ensuring that the marinade touches all parts of the chicken. Also essential is the kind of soy sauce you use. You want to be using dark Chinese soy sauce – light or regular soy sauce just won’t have as much color. This is the brand soy sauce I use: it’s very dark and quite different from generic soy sauce. One last thing: to start, there isn’t a lot of marinade, but as the chicken bakes, the fat from the thighs will render out, making the “sauce” much more liquid, and easier to brush on.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken, skin side up in a snug oven safe baking dish (feel free to line your dish with foil for easy clean up).

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce and rice vinegar. Pour the marinade on the chicken and make sure that each piece is coated. Season with freshly ground pepper.

Bake until the thighs are browned and cooked through, 30-40 minutes, based on size. Half way through, rotate the baking dish and brush the skin with the sauce in the pan. When crispy and cooked through, remove from the oven. If you’re looking to get an extra bit of browning, turn on the broiler, move the tray of chicken to the top rack and broil for a couple of minutes, being sure to keep an eye on it as the marinade can burn. When ready to eat, drizzle on the sesame oil and a generous sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with green onions if desired and enjoy hot!

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

easy oven baked sesame chicken recipe -

Pictured in this post: enamel baking dish // glass measuring cup // plate (similar)
PS – Give this Slate article on why American’s prefer white meat over dark a read – it’s really interesting.



  1. Definitely agree on the chicken thighs (especially ones with sesame and garlic and ginger mmmm). But when I was little it was the other way around; I’d only want chicken breast (I didn’t like the texture of thighs) but my mom would give me thighs.

  2. Dark meat all the way!!! I never liked breast even in nuggets. It was always an OK food but never yummy. I drool at the sight of the burnish glowing skin on these thighs, nothing like a good bit of meat on the bones ;)

  3. Ugh, I don’t understand the love for chicken breasts either. Chicken thighs have always been my default chicken part of choice — they’re the perfect balance of moistness without being too gross. Thigz for lyfe!

  4. Jeff says:

    Looks and sounds amazing – I’m making this tonight! But…how do I print just the recipe? I don’t see a button for that. Thanks for your help and for all the wonderful inspiration!

    1. steph says:

      i don’t have a print button set up yet – the easiest thing to do is copy and paste it into a word document. hope that helps!

  5. Couldn’t agree more – chicken thighs for the win!! This looks amazing – THAT GLAZE STEPHANIE!! Yum!

  6. Ashley says:

    Ahhh yes, thighs!

  7. Abby says:

    These chicken thighs look SO good, Stephanie! I’ve always preferred breast myself, but come to think of it, I’ve never actually tried the thighs?! Not that I can remember, anyway.

    And sesame?! Love.

  8. These look great! I definitely fall into the rut of buying chicken breasts, just because that’s what I was raised on. I need to branch out into the thigh world a lot more!

  9. Shannon says:

    Agreed. Chicken breasts are okay for some things, but the thighs are where it’s at. On Thanksgiving we had quite the lively debate debate over white vs. dark meat. The family was divided. I now know who I want to cook me dinner :) These look delish!!

  10. Kelsey M says:

    Thighs are the best part of the chicken- no questions asked!


  11. Emily G says:

    This looks absolutely delicious – and easy! I will definitely be trying this one out.

    Also that article on white vs. dark meat is fascinating. I’ve always preferred dark meat – it’s so much more flavorful!

  12. Kelly says:

    Looks and sounds delicious! I can’t wait to try it!

  13. Karrie says:

    I made this tonight and it turned out well. This recipe is a keeper for me. Thank you

  14. Elyse says:

    I was singing that song in my head when I first saw those thighs before I even read the first line of this post!! he he he!!

  15. Rob says:

    The chicken didn’t have enough favor from the marinade. Is it better to double the recipe and marinade it in the refrigerator for a length of time?

    1. steph says:

      hi rob,

      please feel free to marinate overnight!

  16. shirley zilberman says:

    Love your blog! very inspiring! Just made the chicken and its AMAZING :) Thank you ! Have a great weekend

  17. Shannon says:

    I know that the whole point of this recipe is so highlight chicken thighs (which I am totally going to buy in the future!) but if I wanted to use breasts instead, as I have a whole bunch sitting in my freezer, what changes would I need to make? Cooking meat terrifies me!

    1. steph says:

      I haven’t tried with breasts, but you could give it a go, checking in at 30 minutes to see if they’re cooked through!

  18. Daniel says:

    Looks good!

  19. Keevian Gandy says:

    This look absolutely delicious, I’m going to see if my mom will make this for me.

  20. Vesrox says:

    I don’t know about the added honey but the rest looks pretty good.

  21. M Welch says:

    I tried this last night and found that there wasn’t nearly enough marinade. Also the marinade didn’t seem as liquid-y as the pictures show above. I would recommend doubling in some areas. I made 4 thighs and barely had enough marinade to cover. The color didn’t seem to match either – could have been the type of soy sauce I was using – but not nearly as dark.

    The thighs themselves came out pretty well, though they didn’t absorb that much of the marinade. Brushing throughout helped.

    The toasted sesame seeds are essential! Gave a real earthiness and nice texture. I added green onions, which didn’t really add much to the dish.

  22. Lisa says:

    So I made this last night….the flavor is amazing. I ended up using boneless, skinless thighs because that’s what I had. As this was cooking, the glaze was not dark and thick as pictured (basting wasn’t really basting….it was more like spooning soup on top thus it wouldn’t ‘stick’). The liquid from the chicken diluted it. Any thoughts on a fix for that? The photos look so amazing and I totally wanted that crispy glaze but that’s not what happened.

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      hi lisa,

      the glaze is pretty liquid as it hasn’t been thickened with anything. if you’re looking to thicken it up, you could reserve half of the marinade and reduce it in a pan over medium heat and then brush it on.

      the skin is also what helps the glaze stick – with skinless thighs, the glaze will just fall off as their surface is too smooth.

      hope that helps!

  23. I am right there with you – It’s all about the thighs! I have just discovered your blog, and I am in LOVE! Can’t wait to explore it more, and can’t wait to try these thighs :)

  24. lanolin85 says:

    can this be made with boneless, skinless chicken thighs?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      I haven’t tried with boneless skinless thighs. I think boneless skin on thighs would work with a reduced baking time, but once you go skinless the chicken might dry out a bit.

  25. Trish says:

    This looked so good to me. I had most of the ingredients, but went to the store for fresh ginger.
    The baking time was soooo off! To achieve that browned, crispy skin took almost 2 1/2 hours!, I turned my gas oven up to 385 after 1 hour, still took another hour plus. I kept basting to ensure the golden look. It’s been three hours, and now my chicken thighs look exactly like the photo.

    PS. I am not a novice cook

  26. Pen says:

    Baked covered or uncovered?

    1. Stephanie Le says:

      Hi Pen, baked uncovered.

  27. Maddie says:

    I just made this with boneless skinless chicken breasts and while there are stark differences in flavor and appearance, it is very tasty and very moist. I saved the leftover liquid and will be reducing it tomorrow to use as a sort of glaze over the chicken (will garnish with chives and sesame seeds). Thanks for the great and easy recipe!

  28. Sonja says:

    I had some chicken in the fridge and did not know what do to with it. Then I saw this recipe and made it.
    It is very fast and easy to make. I added a little Shichimi for a little twist. The chicken tasted really good and juicy. Thank you for this recipe and this great website. Keep up the great work.

  29. Roxanne Agren says:

    Sorry, I can’t have honey, though it looks like a good recipe. Maybe I can make it with Stevia.

  30. Sharon S. says:

    We had this for dinner tonight. It’s delicious! The sauce is, well, I ate the leftover with a spoon. :) Thank you!

  31. Sheryl says:

    Tried this and it was nothing shy of amazing…I noticed that some comments were referring to the color in the picture…I marinated mine in a zip lock bag for a couple hours in the frig…turning every 30 minutes or so and then threw them on a hot grill or you could sear them in a skillet for a couple minutes on each side…the oil and seasonings make the skin that yummy golden brown and crispy…then put them in a casserole dish and cover with foil for about 30 minutes or so…really amazing!!

  32. Veronica says:

    Love the glaze, I’ve been using it as a marinade for everything (especially pork tenderloin) yum!

  33. Ritchiec says:

    I am very thankful to come across your blog! You explain directions very simple with ingredients that are bold and unique! I am excited to make this delicious dish soon.

  34. Luke says:

    Using duck thighs instead, super good!

  35. Jenna A says:

    I always seem to have trouble feeling like chicken is cooked enough. I don’t trust my oven, my thermometer, or my instinct! I’m always paranoid about whether it is cooked through or not! I did these for almost an hour and mine were no wear near as brown as your picture. Do you think they’re still cooked through?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi jenna,
      they’re most likely cooked through! when you cut through one of them, does it look pink at all near the bone? if not, they’re good to go. the browning on the tops of the thighs is aided by the soy sauce, so it really depends on what brand soy sauce you used.

  36. Suzanne E Deleon says:

    Hi! I am so excited to try this tonight! The marinade smells amazing and has been driving my family crazy! I will let you know what we think! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

  37. craig mcgregor says:

    i was going to follow this until you said use rice vinegar or white vinegar, completely different tastes, rice vinegar is more sweet but white vinegar is sour and bitter

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi craig,
      rice vinegar is preferred. the white vinegar is there as a substitute suggestion for people who don’t have rice vinegar in their pantry.

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