This Giada De Laurentiis Chicken Thigh Recipe Changes Everything

Baked chicken is old news. While it's relatively affordable and a go-to source for protein, no one wants to bite into a bland piece of chicken, especially when the meat itself is so versatile to cook with. The best way to elevate tasteless poultry, according to Giada De Laurentiis herself, is by soaking it in a flavorful marinade as seen in her recipe for Lemon Honey Dijon chicken thighs (via her blog Giadzy). It will take your weeknight meal from good-ish to great, and it all starts with a Ziploc bag.

A marinade takes only a few minutes (and a few ingredients) to throw together. Once everything is assembled in the Ziploc bag, all you have to do is wait — until it's time to cook, of course. Most marinades can deliver a bold bite to your meat or plant-based substitute in as little as 15 to 20 minutes, according to Bon Appétit, so adding this step to your recipe won't shatter your schedule. The key to De Laurentiis' zesty marinade? The acidity from Dijon mustard and freshly-squeezed lemons, along with the potent flavors of honey and garlic. These aren't your regular boneless, skinless chicken breasts, either. Instead, De Laurentiis opts for chicken thighs, a cut that carries a higher fat content and therefore more flavor (via AllRecipes).

Lucky enough for us, De Laurentiis graced the internet and shared her personal recipe for chicken thighs.

What makes Giada's recipe so special?

Let's talk more about this marinade because it really is what gives Giada De Laurentiis' recipe its flare. Marinades work in a few different ways, per The Cookful. The first is through an enzymatic process: This is what occurs when dairy is used to break down proteins, like when you marinate fried chicken in buttermilk. The second is a dry marinade, which involves infusing meat with a coat of dry herbs and spices to strengthen flavor and aromatics. And third is the acidic marinade. Lemons, which are a major component of Giada's recipe, have quite the acidic pH according to Healthline, and acids break down proteins. Combined with spicy Dijon, lemon zest, honey, and some spices, the fresh lemon juice works into the chicken while it's marinating, leaving it tender and packed with flavor. 

After assembling the marinade, letting the chicken thighs soak, baste and bake, they're ready to serve. You can eat as is, of course, but for a full meal, De Laurentiis cooks them with veggies doused in olive oil and rosemary, or even suggests serving them with risotto or white beans.