Sheet Pan

Sheet-Pan Chicken Thighs With Magic Spice Blend

October  7, 2018
58 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham
Author Notes

I make a big sheet tray of these spice-rubbed chicken thighs, eat one or two for dinner that night, then turn the rest into quesadillas, rice bowls, and leftovers throughout the week.

A note on the spice blend: The aim here is that you're making a Mason jar full of the stuff, then using it as you wish throughout the week. I like to keep the spice blend by my stove to sprinkle over everything: fried eggs, sliced cucumbers, chicken. Sprinkle it on the underside of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, place them on a sheet pan (skin-side up), then season the skins lightly with more rub before cooking off.

Account for about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the spice blend per 2 pounds of chicken thighs and you should be good. —Eric Kim

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 2 Quick & Easy Chicken Thigh Recipes Our Senior Editor Swears By. —The Editors

  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • 2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons Magic Spice Blend, recipe follows
  • Magic Spice Blend
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika (you can use regular sweet paprika if you don't like the taste of smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed, crushed in the palm of your hand
In This Recipe
  1. Spoon all of the ingredients into a Mason jar and shake.
  2. Sprinkle the Magic Spice Blend generously on the underside of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, place on a sheet pan skin-side up, then season the skins lightly with more rub. You can let this sit covered overnight in the fridge, or bake off right away.
  3. Roast at 400° F for 30 minutes, or until cooked through.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Jane Prive
    Jane Prive
  • Picholine
  • Steven Williamson
    Steven Williamson
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
  • Melanie Jane
    Melanie Jane
Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.

42 Reviews

CaroleF2 February 4, 2021
Good choice for a quick and easy dinner. I was hoping for something with an exotic flavor, but I agree with kjmk assessment that it is more reminiscent of BBQ. I agree with Halli's assessment regarding the complaints posted about the chicken being too salty. These cooks must have used the entire balance of the Magic Spice Rub rather than measuring out the specified 2 tablespoons to season 2 pounds of chicken. I do not enjoy overly-salty food. I am sure that I would have reacted negatively if those were the results - but the chicken was fine. The only change that I made was to cut back on the cayenne because I used Hot Smoked Spanish Paprika. There was still a sizable amount of rub leftover after using the 2 tablespoons of rub in the recipe. I sealed it in a small Mason jar and stored in the freezer for future use.
Cynthia January 9, 2021
Not sure of previous comment (Janie) but I made this tonight as written and it was perfect. Nice blend of spices couldn’t have been easier. I double recipe because I had 4 lbs chicken thighs that I needed to cook. Now I have already cooked chicken for another meal. Thanks Eric!
Jane E. January 2, 2021
Awful! I am astounded that an organization it as reputable as Food 52 would have not tested this recipe better. The amount of salt makes it inedible. We had to throw the chicken out… Super disappointed!
Author Comment
Eric K. January 5, 2021
Hi Jane, I'm so sorry to hear. I'd love to figure out what went wrong: Admittedly the recipe is formatted in a confusing way - just want to make sure that you only used 2 tablespoons of the final spice blend for a full 2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (a lot of chicken)? All of these details make a difference. Also the brand of kosher salt may have affected the results... I still make these often for my family, so I'd love to trouble-shoot with you. -Eric
Jane E. January 2, 2021
Awful! I am astounded that an organization it as reputable as Food 52 would have not tested this recipe better. The amount of salt makes it inedible. We had to throw the chicken out… Super disappointed
Picholine January 2, 2021
I bet you didn’t use Kosher salt.
Jane E. January 3, 2021
I sure did!!
Picholine January 3, 2021
Well then , it’s just to salty. Maybe the cook will need to adjust salt and for me cayenne. Enjoy cooking.
Picholine February 4, 2021
Made this rub up and cut salt in half and used less cayenne.
Baked chicken thighs. It was tasty and worth making again .
karencooks December 22, 2020
Easy & delicious!!! Plan to make this recipe again and again!!!
kjmk December 17, 2020
I wish I could rave like others. The chicken tasted fine, but seemed to me to be just a slightly bbq taste. Nice crisp skin though, and recipe could be easier.
Jane P. March 11, 2020
My husband and I both thought this was delicious!! I make chicken thighs all the time and this is one recipe I will be using again. The spice mix was great and using it as a rub allowed the chicken to crisp up nicely. Yum!
Picholine March 24, 2019
Anyone cut back on cayenne? Think for my crowd it’s a bit too hot!
Can’t wait to try this recipe!
Sinamen78 June 2, 2019
Yes, I halved it. Could even go back another 1/4-1/2 t. if you want.
Sinamen78 June 3, 2019
Besides needing to back way off the salt and adjust cayenne accordingly, this is a VERY tasty recipe. Loved it. Company-worthy !
Dish06 January 23, 2019
Just yummy! The sugar had me saying...wwhhaaatt? But it's become a dish on rotation.
Barb January 1, 2019
Wr lived this recipe. It was easy, I had everything I needed which I love. The chicken browned nicely and the taste was unique and very delicious
Barbara B. January 1, 2019
I used only a tablespoon of kosher salt as others suggested, but it was still overpowering and I couldn't rescue it even by doubling everything else. Would be better to add salt in at the end, to taste.
Sinamen78 May 25, 2019
Wonder if that’s supposed to be “3 teaspoons” (1 T. salt) of salt ?
Halli June 2, 2019
Did you use only 2 Tbl of the finished spice mix? I'm trying to do the math for whether it seems like an unreasonable amount of salt, but 3 Tbl of 14 total Tbls would mean 3/14ths of a Tbl salt in each Tbl spice mix, so 2 Tbl mix would meam 6/14ths Tbl salt in the dish, or 3/7ths Tbl salt, or less than 1.5 Tsps salt in the full dish, which doesn't seem crazy for 2 lbs thighs. The directions don;t remind you to only use 2 Tbl mix, so I'm wondering if thst's what happened!
Ariella December 31, 2018
Delicious. Very special blend. I reduced salt to one tablespoon and it was perfect.
Steven W. December 30, 2018
I am quite sure I am the chicken thighs most fervent fan. I just LOVE them, any which way you do it--even boiled and tuned into pot pie--so these were an immediate favorite. The magic blend is really good even when I cut the cayenne in half (to taste for my family.) Thighs around here are often 77, 87 or 97 cents a pound so you can bet I stock up...the spice blend? I made a pint jar of it.
Author Comment
Eric K. December 31, 2018
Aw, Steven, that makes me so happy. Thanks for letting me know.
Ann December 30, 2018
Totally agree with all the previous accolades....
And it’s delicious on popcorn, too!
Author Comment
Eric K. December 31, 2018
Whoa! Love that idea.
Roy C. November 19, 2018
Definitely a Keeper! Easy to prepare and scales up really well. Going to try with boneless/skinless next time to see how it compares. Also want to try on salmon, as some have suggested. Thanks, Eric!
Author Comment
Eric K. November 19, 2018
Glad to hear, Roy. It's excellent on salmon. Some brief instruction here:
Roy C. November 19, 2018
Thanks again, Eric!
Helen November 5, 2018
This is really good. I had only boneless, skinless thighs on hand and used those. It was wonderful- big hit with my company. Easy and very tasty; this moves into the rotation!
Author Comment
Eric K. November 5, 2018
Delicious! The spice blend would probably penetrate boneless/skinless even better.
Helen November 6, 2018
Yes, i sprayed a sheet pan, sprinkled about 1/3 of the mix on it, then patted thighs into mix and turned pieces over. Sprinkled a little more on top. Covered pan and back in fridge for maybe 6 hrs. So spice blend was directly on the meat for several hrs. I will definitely make this again.
Author Comment
Eric K. November 6, 2018
Author Comment
Eric K. November 6, 2018
Glad to hear it!
jules November 4, 2018
I've got my second try at this recipe in the oven right now! So excited! I love the crispy skin with the rub flavor. I've added some drum sticks this time around. Can't wait!
Author Comment
Eric K. November 4, 2018
I'll admit, sometimes I like to tear off the crispy skin and eat that first! (When no one's watching...) I actually made these tonight, too; I'm a broken record, but this chicken really is a reliable standby in my kitchen.
Andrea November 4, 2018
You're right! I just made this recipe, and the spice blend is delicious! I was worried about the amount of cayenne, but it's tamed by the brown sugar and other spices. I recommend this recipe.
Author Comment
Eric K. November 4, 2018
Thanks so much for loving it, Andrea. Glad to hear.
Andrea November 4, 2018
Does anyone know if there are other recipes with this magic spice blend?
Melanie J. November 4, 2018
No but I bet this would be amazing with salmon!
Author Comment
Eric K. November 4, 2018
It is very good with salmon! Andrea, I talk about all the ways I like to use this spice blend here: Ribs, pork chops, salmon, soft-boiled eggs, even cucumbers.
Helen November 19, 2018
I bet it would be superb with extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes; would oil the pan and watch it - i doubt it would need more than 15-20 mins and possibly at a higher temp to crisp up the tofu.
Author Comment
Eric K. November 19, 2018
Helen, love that idea.