Perfectly Caramelized Baked Chicken

Baked chicken is a beloved classic, cherished for its simplicity, adaptability, and the soul-warming satisfaction it brings to the table. This step-by-step recipe guarantees succulent, flavorful baked chicken with a delectably crispy exterior. Whether it’s a casual weeknight dinner or a celebratory feast, this caramelized baked chicken is sure to impress.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Pieces: 4-6 pieces (breasts, thighs, drumsticks, or a combination), bone-in, skin-on
  • Olive Oil: 2 tablespoons
  • Salt: 1 teaspoon, or to taste
  • Black Pepper: 1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground
  • Garlic Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Paprika: 1 teaspoon (smoked or sweet, depending on preference)
  • Dried Herbs: 1 teaspoon (such as thyme, oregano, rosemary, or a blend)

Optional Ingredients for Extra Flavor:

  • Lemon: 1, sliced or wedged, for a zesty kick
  • Fresh Herbs: A few sprigs (like thyme, rosemary, or oregano), to enhance aroma and taste
  • Butter: A few tablespoons, melted, for added richness

Equipment:

  • Baking Dish or Roasting Pan
  • Aluminum Foil (optional, for covering if chicken browns too quickly)
  • Meat Thermometer

Preparation Steps:

  1. Preheat the Oven:
    Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and position the rack in the middle.
  2. Prepare the Chicken:
    Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels to promote crispiness.
    Rub each piece with olive oil to help the seasoning adhere and aid in crisping the skin.
  3. Season the Chicken:
    Combine salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and dried herbs in a small bowl.
    Generously season both sides of the chicken pieces with the spice mix.
  4. Arrange the Chicken:
    Place the chicken pieces, skin-side up, in a baking dish or roasting pan, ensuring they’re not overcrowded for even cooking and browning.
    Optionally, add lemon slices or wedges and fresh herbs around and under the chicken pieces.
  5. Bake:
    Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes until the chicken turns golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) when measured with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching the bone.
    If the chicken skin browns too quickly, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.
  6. Rest and Serve:
    Allow the chicken to rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute, ensuring moist and flavorful meat.
    Serve hot, optionally garnished with additional fresh herbs.

Tips for Perfection:

  • Room Temperature: Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before baking for more even cooking.
  • Skin Side Up: Baking the chicken with the skin-side up ensures a crispy, golden exterior.
  • Checking Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C), as recommended by the USDA.

Serving Suggestions:

Baked chicken pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. Consider serving it alongside roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, a crisp salad, or steamed rice for a satisfying meal.

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