Juicy Yogurt Lemon Chicken

4.47 from 13 votes

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This is the best juicy yogurt lemon chicken ever. Thank you for the 14+ million views on my other Bulgarian yogurt chicken recipe; I am blown away by the response. Truth is, yogurt is not really a secret for us in Bulgaria. Countries like India and many other parts of the world have long been using yogurt as a way to tenderize and marinate meats and other dishes. Although many cultures use yogurt, sour cream, mayo, and/or buttermilk to tenderize meat, there are still so many people that have yet to discover the magic of marinating with these ingredients.

In Bulgaria we are known for cooking and baking with yogurt. Plain yogurt makes for the perfect marinade and it’s what makes many of our baked goods so incredibly delicious, fluffy, and moist. In Bulgaria, yogurt is everywhere. You’ll find it on falafel wraps, slathered on moussaka, and lined up in supermarket refrigerators. It is in traditional Bulgarian dishes such as tarator, a cold soup made of yogurt, water, cucumber, and dill; and snezhanka, a salad consisting of yoghurt, cucumbers, garlic, and dill. We sip yogurt drinks in the streets and we dip fried zucchini slices into yogurt dips too. We love yogurt with sweet bread, in soups and stews and so many other recipes as well. If you haven’t marinated chicken with yogurt yet, this might be your new favorite recipe.

Juicy Yogurt Lemon Chicken

If you haven’t marinated chicken with yogurt yet, this might be your new favorite way.
4.47 from 13 votes
Servings: 3
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes


  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, (or any cut of chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt , (I use Balkan-Style but any works)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
  • juice of 2 lemons (reserve the squeezed lemons)
  • 6 unpeeled cloves garlic


  • Add the chicken to a baking dish with the olive oil and yogurt. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano. Add the juice of 2 lemons and add the squeezed lemon pieces to the dish as well. Add the garlic. With clean hands, massage the mixture well to evenly distribute the spices. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (If you don't let it marinate for 1 hour it will still be delicious but not as tender.)
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the thighs. The chicken is done when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a piece of chicken registers 165F.
  • If you want to crisp up the skin you can put it under the broiler for the last few minutes of cooking, but keep a close eye on it as it can burn quickly.
  • Enjoy the chicken on salad, mashed potatoes, in wraps, with rice, or with any side you like.



You can absolutely use any cut of chicken, like chicken breast or even a whole chicken, but the cooking time will have to be adjusted. Less time for white meat and more time for dark meat.
Breast will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness and cut.
Feel free to use any seasonings you love. The longer you let the chicken marinate, the better.
Measure everything with your heart. You can use mayo or sour cream instead of yogurt. If you are dairy-free, you can use Veganaise.
I use unpeeled garlic in most of my recipes because peeled garlic burns and becomes too pungent most times. Unpeeled garlic gets sweet and caramelized. Just be sure to squeeze it out of the shell before you serve it.
You can smear the roasted garlic on fresh bread or with the chicken as well.
You can absolutely make this recipe in the air fryer but do check on the air fryer manual for the time and temperature depending on the cut of meat you choose. 
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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  1. Love this recipe and make it almost weekly using chicken hind legs! Question: if I make this marinade, how long can you marinate the chicken in it? Can it marinate for several days or be put in the freezer then thawed when ready to bake?
    Thank you!

    1. So you don’t want to leave this marinade for longer than overnight because lemon can actually start to break down the chicken which will in return and make it rubbery, if you leave out the lemon in a marinade such as this one you can definitely leave it in the fridge for up to two days or freeze it ❤️

  2. I have whole chickens, can I cut them down and use the pieces of the whole chicken instead of just thighs?

  3. 5 stars
    My family loved these chicken thighs. Excellent flavor and they loved the crispy skin from cooking in the air fryer. Quick recipe with ingredients I always have on hand.

  4. 5 stars
    Deeeeeelicious! Only marinated for an hour and still had great flavor. Next time will prep in the morning to pop in the oven when I get home. I’ll be adding more garlic simply because it was so yummy to have it to smear on the chicken afterward and I can see me wanting enough for every bite!