Juicy Yogurt Lemon Chicken

This is the 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, places like India, and many other parts of the world. Although many cultures use yogurt, sour cream, mayo, buttermilk, to tenderize meat, it is definitely a new concept to people that have never seen meat marinated this way before. In Bulgaria we are known for cooking or baking with yogurt. Plain yogurt makes for the perfect marinade and also makes so 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 ever marinated chicken with yogurt, this might be your new favourite way.

Juicy yogurt lemon chicken by the modern nonna juicy yogurt lemon chicken

Juicy Yogurt Lemon Chicken

If you haven’t ever marinated chicken with yogurt, this might be your new favourite way.
4.16 from 13 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 3


  • 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
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons dry oregano — or to taste
  • juice of 2 lemons — leave the squeezed out lemons in the dish too
  • 6 unpeeled garlic cloves


  • Add the chicken to a bowl ( or your baking dish ) add the rest of the ingredients and massage it really well with clean hands. Let it sit and marinate in the fridge for at least one hour to overnight. If you don't let it marinate for one hour it will still be delicious but not as tender.
  • Take it out of the fridge and transfer it to a oven safe baking dish if you used a bowl. Pre-heat the oven to 400F. Bake it uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour depending on how big/small the thighs are.
  • If you want to crisp up the skin you can put it on broil for the last few minutes but keep a close eye on it.
  • Enjoy on salad, mashed potatoes, on wraps, with rice, or with any side you like.


You can absolutely use any cut of chicken like chicken breast 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 15-25 minutes depending on the thickness and cut. Feel free to use any seasonings you love and you can absolutely do this with whole chicken as well. The longer you let it sit, the better.
Let it sit anywhere from a minimum of one hour to overnight. Measure everything with your heart. You can use mayo or sour-cream instead as well. 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 take it out of the shell before you serve it.
You can smear it 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. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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15 Responses

  1. 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!

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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 ❤️

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