Sheet Pan Yogurt Chicken – Perfectly Crispy and Juicy Chicken

I use chicken a lot to make fast dinners. It’s a great base protein and infinitely customizable and used in a variety of cuisines. While this Sheet Pan Yogurt Chicken isn’t as fast as most of my chicken dinner recipes, it’s truly worth the extra time.

The flavor and texture that you can get from a yogurt marinade is very tough to beat. You can use any cut of chicken (or even a whole chicken) with varying results. My personal favorite is whole chicken thighs which get incredibly crispy on the skin side and are tender and juicy in the center.

While this isn’t a 30-minute recipe, it is a very flexible recipe and one that you can have ready to toss in the oven when you need it. Mostly though, it’s incredibly delicious!

What cut of chicken works well for this recipe?

I like to use meaty, whole chicken thighs for this recipe. The crackling skin that results after baking is tough to beat if you are a crispy skin person and the meat is guaranteed to be juicy even if you overbake it by a few minutes.

But, marinating chicken in yogurt sauce is a tale as old as time so don’t let me confine you to chicken thighs. Chicken breasts would work just fine although you will miss out on the crispy skin. The meat will still be very juicy and flavorful and chicken breasts (or tenders) will bake much faster than chicken thighs.

If you use chicken tenders or chicken breasts, your baking time will probably be 10-15 minutes less than what is in the recipe.

Why yogurt works well as a marinade

Yogurt is an unexpected marinade ingredient for many Americans. Yogurt is something we use for breakfasts piled with fruit or granola.

But, yogurt has a long history of being used as a marinade (I like this summary if you are interested). Nobody knows exactly who started this idea, but it has been around for hundreds of years and has some scientific reasons on why it works so well.

When picking a yogurt to use as a base for marinade, I prefer to use Greek yogurt that has full fat (5% if you can find it), but plain yogurt works just as well. Whatever you do, don’t accidentally get a flavored yogurt. Vanilla chicken isn’t a thing as far as I know.

The yogurt mixes well with the spices and herbs in the marinade and coats the chicken, sticking to the exterior. When you bake yogurt, it breaks down and forms a thin, crispy crust on the chicken. YUM.

Making the marinade in a food processor.

How to make the yogurt marinade

I prefer to make this yogurt marinade in a food processor to make sure everything is very finely chopped. It takes just a minute to toss the stuff in the food processor and then blitz it until it’s a rough paste.

But, I wouldn’t recommend going out to buy a food processor just to make a yogurt marinade. You will have equally great results if you finely chop your cilantro and garlic and stir everything together in a bowl. All good.

The ingredients in my version of this marinade are pretty simple. I like a lot of cilantro, garlic, fresh lemon juice, and basic spices like salt, pepper, and paprika. All those flavors go really well with chicken and give you a good base.

marinating chicken in yogurt.

How long to marinate the chicken

How long do you have?!

No but really, I would recommend marinating this chicken for at least four hours. The yogurt really needs some time to do its thing.

Personally, I made a few different batches of this chicken and found that I couldn’t tell much of a difference from chicken marinated for four hours or overnight so don’t feel like you have to max it out.

Why I like to bake this chicken on a sheet pan

I’ve baked hundreds of chicken things over the years. Sometimes I like to stack them in a baking dish (almost like a casserole), but there is a very good reason to bake this chicken on a sheet pan.

Chicken ready to bake on sheet pan.

The yogurt marinade will cook best if it has air circulation around the pieces of chicken. This will ensure maximum crispiness and will also cook faster than if the pieces were touching in a baking dish.

Here is my chicken baking halfway through!

Oven baked chicken.

Bonus reason to put this on a baking sheet is that if you line the baking sheet with parchment paper you’ll have a very easy clean-up situation!

Finished baked chicken.

Servings ideas for this yogurt chicken

This chicken is a great anchor for a bunch of different meal options. Generally I like to serve it with some sort of starch and a vegetable.

You’ll see that in the photos for this post I served it with a simple orzo and a tomato salad and it was really delicious and a relatively fast, low-ingredient dinner.

It would be great with this brown butter orzo or this spinach and artichoke orzo salad.

For vegetables, something like these broccoli steaks would be delicious and you could make them alongside the chicken. Also this strawberry salad would go really well as a base for the chicken!

Yogurt chicken on a plate.

Substitutions

This is a very simple version of a classic baked yogurt chicken, but let’s talk substitutions!

  • Change up with any sort of chicken pieces that you’d like.
  • For the marinade, if you aren’t a cilantro fan, substitute with parsley.
  • Feel free to add other spices like ground coriander, cumin, or turmeric.

Leftovers

I make this recipe with 8 chicken thighs so I had plenty of leftovers. This is a good thing! These chicken pieces keep really well in the fridge or you could even freeze them for up to three months.

When you are reheating the chicken, it’s best to reheat it in the oven at 350˚F until the chicken is warmed through and the skin stays crispy. If you microwave the chicken, it’ll lose it’s crispy skin, but otherwise be just fine.

This leftover chicken is also great chopped in wraps, or on top of salads so don’t feel like you have to use the yogurt chicken as-is.

Bite of chicken.

Sheet Pan Yogurt Chicken

Servings: 8 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Marinade Time:: 4 hours

Total Time: 5 hours

Prevent your screen from going dark

  • In a food processor, combine all the marinade ingredients and pulse until it is in a paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can mince the cilantro and garlic finely and stir together in a bowl.

  • Add the marinade to a medium bowl with the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic or foil and place in the fridge for four hours or overnight.

  • When ready to bake the chicken, preheat oven to 450˚F and move a rack of the oven to the upper third of the oven.

  • Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave some room between each chicken piece for air flow.

  • Bake the chicken for 25-45 minutes depending on the kind of chicken cut you are using. Chicken cutlets or chicken breasts will cook faster than chicken thighs. Personally, I like chicken thighs and bake them for 45 minutes, rotating the pan once during cooking.

  • As always, I recommend using an instant read thermometer to make sure your chicken is at 165˚F. For chicken thighs, I like to go a bit higher until 175˚F so the fat can render out a bit more.

  • Serve the yogurt chicken with sides of your choice, rice or pasta, and a vegetable.

Serving: 1piece | Calories: 318kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 400mg | Potassium: 334mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 389IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 1mg

Course: Main Dishes

Cuisine: American, Greek

Here are a few other great recipes to try!

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