Oven-Fried Soy Sauce & Ginger Chicken Thighs

March  1, 2023
3 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 4 hours 50 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 3 to 6
Author Notes

This is my family’s favorite chicken recipe and best kept secret (up until this point). We call it “Bama chicken,” named after the moniker we affectionately called my great-grandmother by, and whose recipe this happens to be. The recipe, originally given to her by a woman named Gloria Jones, a close family friend, has enjoyed other names over the years, depending on who was cooking it. These range from “Mom’s fried chicken” (as written on a 3x5-inch card in my grandmother’s recipe box) to “picnic chicken,” because it tastes just as good at room temperature (or even cold!) as it does fresh from the oven.

What makes this chicken so spectacular is its salty-sweet crispy skin. The chicken is first marinated in a mixture of soy, sugar, garlic, and ginger—familiar flavors—but is then coated in flour and placed into a preheated pan filled with oil. The chicken essentially fries itself in the oven and produces the most delectable, crunchy skin without the need for flipping halfway through.

For the most flavorful results, I recommend using smaller chicken thighs, if you can find them, and letting them marinate overnight. In a pinch, I’ve sometimes let the chicken marinate for 45 minutes or so at room temperature right before baking, but the best results always come with more time.

This chicken made my mother famous at school potlucks. It’s appropriate for any occasion: a holiday get together, dinner with colleagues, or a picnic with family. I like it best served with steamed rice and a spoonful of the pan juices drizzled over it, yet it tastes just as good cold, straight from the refrigerator, the next day.
Zola Gregory

What You'll Need
  • 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 6 to 8)
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 to 12 garlic cloves (about 1 medium head), finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
  1. Make the marinade: Combine the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, and ginger in a large shallow dish or large ziplock bag. Give the mixture a stir to help the sugar dissolve. Add chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn the chicken over halfway through the marinating time.
  2. Add the oil to a 9x13-inch baking dish and place in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 375°F.
  3. While the oven is heating, prepare the chicken: Pat the chicken dry and transfer it to a plate. Add the flour, salt, and pepper to a medium-sized bowl and mix briefly to combine. Coat each piece of chicken in flour and gently shake off any excess.
  4. When the oven has heated, carefully remove the baking dish and add the chicken pieces to the hot oil—it should sizzle. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers about 185°F. Serve with steamed rice. Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days.

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