Lemon Yogurt Chicken

4.52 from 25 votes

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This is the best juicy Lemon Yogurt Chicken ever. Thank you for the 14+ million views on my other 🇧🇬 Bulgarian Chicken Thighs in Yogurt Marinade! The response to this recipe has truly blown me away. 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 who 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 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 a key ingredient in traditional Bulgarian dishes such as “Tarator,” a cold soup made of yogurt, water, 🥒 cucumber, and dill; and “Snezhanka,” a salad consisting of yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and dill. People sip yogurt drinks in the streets and we dip fried zucchini slices into yogurt dips too. We love yogurt with sweet bread, in soups, 🍲 stews, and so many other recipes as well.

Why You’ll Love Lemon Yogurt Chicken

This Lemon Yogurt Chicken 🍗 is based on my original recipe with a slightly different flavor profile. This delicious take uses fresh 🍋 lemon juice, dried oregano and lots of garlic for Greek-inspired flavors that are always a hit on the table. These chicken thighs are super juicy thanks to the yogurt marinade which is the ultimate tenderizer.

How to Prepare Lemon Yogurt Chicken

🍗 Begin by adding the chicken to a baking dish with olive oil and yogurt.

🧂 Now, season with salt, pepper, and oregano.

🍋 Add the juice of 2 lemons and then add the squeezed lemon pieces to the dish as well.

🧄 Next, add 6 cloves of garlic to the baking dish.

✋ With clean hands, massage the mixture well to evenly distribute the spices.

❄️ Now, 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 (200C).

🌡️Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the thighs. The chicken is fully cooked when a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a piece of chicken registers 165F (74C).

⏲️ To crisp up the skin further you can broil the chicken on top for 1 to 2 minutes but keep a very close eye on it.

Nonna’s Tip 🔥

A minute or two under the oven’s broiler is all you need to get that golden crispy skin that everyone loves. Broiling means you use the upper heating element of the oven only so that you crisp up the chicken skin.

Lemon Yogurt Chicken
Lemon Yogurt Chicken

Variations and Substitutions for Lemon Yogurt Chicken

  1. I used Balkan-style here, but Bulgarian or Greek will yogurt will also work in this recipe. Alternatively, sour cream or mayo will work, too!
  2. If you’re dairy-free, you can certainly make this 🍗 Lemon Yogurt Chicken by using your favorite non-dairy yogurt, sour cream or veganaise.
  3. 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.

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Common Questions

Can I use any cut of chicken for this Lemon yogurt chicken recipe?

You can absolutely use any cut of chicken here, such as 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 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness and cut. I think even a whole chicken would be delicious using this method. To be sure the meat is fully cooked, it’s best to use a meat thermometer (chicken is done when it hits 165F (74C)).

do you peel the garlic cloves in this recipe?

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. Be sure to smear the roasted garlic on fresh bread or the chicken pieces.

Can I make this recipe in the air-fryer?

Yes, you certainly can make my Lemon Yogurt Chicken in the air-fryer. I suggest checking your air-fryer’s manual for the suggested temperature and cook time.

What other types of yogurt can i use?

Any thick, plain yogurt will be wonderful in this Lemon Yogurt Chicken recipe. I used Balkan-style here, but Bulgarian or Greek will work, too!

can i make this recipe dairy-free?

Absolutely! You can use your favorite non-dairy yogurt, sour cream or Vegannaise here instead of plain yogurt.

How do i get a crispy skin on the chicken?

A minute or two under the broiler is the best way to get that golden crispy skin that’s so delicious. Broiling means you use the upper heating element of the oven only so that you crisp up the chicken skin. I believe it’s called a top grill or griller in places like England and Australia. 

Lemon Yogurt Chicken

Lemon Yogurt Chicken

This Lemon Yogurt Chicken has lots of Greek-inspired flavors that are always a hit on the table. These chicken thighs are super juicy thanks to the yogurt marinade which is the ultimate tenderizer.
4.52 from 25 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Servings: 3
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 8 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt , I used Balkan-Style but any works
  • ½ tablespoon salt , to taste
  • ¼ tablespoon pepper, to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 6 cloves garlic , unpeeled

Instructions 

  • 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 (200C)
  • 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 (74C).
  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 977kcal, Carbohydrates: 13g, Protein: 65g, Fat: 74g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g, Monounsaturated Fat: 34g, Trans Fat: 0.3g, Cholesterol: 380mg, Sodium: 1472mg, Potassium: 983mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 382IU, Vitamin C: 40mg, Calcium: 128mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
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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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17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this in the new ninja flex basket air fryer and used the air fry setting for 20 mins and then roast setting for 3 mins on 2 chicken breasts and it turned out delicious! Served with rice and mashed potatoes on the side.

  2. 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 ❤️

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!