roasted chicken legs with lemon and oregano

Lemon oregano chicken mise en place.

Darlings, I’m going to make it quick. Things are about to go all topsy-turvy (I’m told the manuscript comes back today – gulp), and I want to share this recipe with you. We’ve been making these roasted chicken legs with lemon and oregano for several months now; as soon as the recipe appeared in Bon Appetit magazine, it’s been a staple of our regular weeknight meals. Quick, effortless, delicious, and dare I say, idiot-proof?

Because I get up at 6am and work non-stop (maybe with a running break a few mornings a week) until close of day (or beyond), I sometimes emerge from my desk a little stupid. What I mean by that is it takes me a few hours to shake off the work on my brain, which sometimes impairs my dinner-prep abilities. Have I burned dinner? Yes. Under-seasoned it? You bet. Over-seasoned it? No doubt. Anything that can make my weeknights easier, more streamlined, less frenetic – I’m all for it. And if I’m being totally honest, any dinner that I can “cook” while sipping a glass of wine, is my kind of dinner. Which this chicken dish totally is.

Lemon oregano chicken

Of course, I don’t photograph or blog every meal I make for our weeknight “feast”. Regular life, it seems, is hardly worth noting all the time. But while cooking my most recent private chef installment this past Sunday, it occurred to me, that this dish might be just the ticket to cure your “really-chicken-again?” ills. If what I cook makes me wipe the bottom of the skillet with a piece of crusty bread and lick the drippings off my fingers, I certainly deem the dish worthy of being written up.

Lemon oregano chicken

Sorry, but there’s no finished shot. I had to package it away into a transportable container of which I’ve now a sizable collection. To wit, this is our dining room table during private-chef Sundays, as I’ve dubbed them. And that shot doesn’t even show you what it looks like halfway through cooking.

Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon and Oregano
Adapted from Bon Appetit

I tweaked the recipe a bit. I didn’t quite understand why list 1/2 garlic clove so I used 1 smallish clove – worked out fine. Likewise, I decided to use 1 shallot and not a tablespoon of it. I streamlined some directions and suggested a substitute for wine, should you not wish to open a whole bottle of wine just to use 1/4 cup of it in a recipe (unless of course you want to drink the wine with your dinner!) Since you do need some olive oil to start with, but there is no way that you will spread 1 teaspoon (!) of oil in a very large skillet, I suggested you use a pastry brush to do it. And I think that in order to get the crispiest skin possible, you must start with the driest chicken possible, so I make a suggestion to pat it dry.

1 lemon
4 skin-on, bone-in chicken legs, split into thighs and drumsticks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus additional
3 sprigs fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 shallot, minced
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc), optional
1/2 cup chicken broth, use more broth if skipping wine

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

2. Coat a large room-temperature skillet with 1 teaspoon of oil and, using a pastry brush, spread the oil over the bottom of the skillet in a thin layer. Pat the chicken as dry as you can using paper towels, and add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes. If a lof of fat renders out, tilt the skillet to one side and gently spoon the excess fat out to maintain a thin coating on the bottom.

3. Scatter half of lemon slices over chicken and half on bottom of skillet (the slices on top of the chicken will soften; those in the skillet will caramelize). Transfer skillet to the oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, about 15 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and caramelized lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave softened lemon slices in the skillet.) Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Add the wine, if using, and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the broth, and cook until thickened, about 3 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

Serves 4 to 6.


  • Maria Tadic

    I agree – when recipes say use half of a clove of garlic or something, I think it’d just be way easier to say use one small one or another relevant size. Who’s gonna save a half a clove of garlic, really…

  • Ashley

    Looks insanely delicious and easy! I can see why it would make the weeknight dinner rotation. I bet it jumps into mine too.
    Good luck with the manuscript! You’ll rock it!

  • Heidi Normand-Berge :)

    Hello My Sweet,

    I love reading your blog before I start work on my computer.

    Kiss Kiss…


  • Dorothee

    Hello – this recipe looks wonderful. Thank you for posting! In the middle photo the chicken appears to be deboned, but the recipe says otherwise. Would this work well without the bones or do I need them in order to keep the chicken juicy? Thank you and kudos for the manuscript!

  • olga

    Dorothee – good eye!! My client wanted deboned, but I like to cook my stuff with the bones. You can certainly use deboned, but shorten cooking time by 5 to 7 minutes.

  • Vanessa

    We made this the day you posted it! We used preserved lemon (we’ve been on a Moroccan food kick lately) and we thought it was delicious. It was a great technique to really get a good brown on your chicken skin. We made it with a side of israeli couscous with roasted eggplant and zucchini, and beets…. it made for a really great meal. Thanks!

  • olga

    Vanessa – funny, my mother-in-law made it that night and a day later, so did I! Love the preserved lemon addition – Moroccan flavors are always great, I think! Sounds like your meal was wonderful overall!

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