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Winter is on its way here in California, and it is taking our Meyer lemons with it. Because the dish gets its sweetness primarily from honey, this recipe works well with other lemon types. Sticky Lemon Chicken is simple to make and delicious to eat. The sauce uses just a few ingredients you probably already have on hand and the chicken cooks in the oven.
Sticky Lemon Chicken is sweet with a little heat and oh-so sticky. The flavor of the rice after soaking up the sauce is delightful. This dish was inspired by my Meyer Lemon Garlic Chicken recipe which is savory and not at all sweet. I love them both, but sometimes you just want to eat chicken and lick your fingers!
- Lemon juice
- Chile (or crushed red pepper flakes)
- Cooked rice
(See recipe card for quantities.)
Instructions for Sticky Lemon Chicken
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Using tongs, place the chicken pieces into an oven-proof baking dish. Leave space between the pieces. You want the chicken to roast and get the skin crispy. Crowding the pieces encourages steaming which results in soggy skin.
Pour or brush the chicken with olive oil. Move the chicken around in the oil to coat both sides. Place the chicken in a preheated 350 degree oven to start cooking while you prepare the sauce.
Pour remaining olive oil into a small pot and heat on low. You should have 1-2 tablespoons left from brushing on chicken.
Add the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the pot.
Cook over low heat for five minutes. Remove pot from heat and allow sauce to cool slightly.
Add the honey. This is what makes Sticky Lemon Chicken sticky!
Remove the chicken from the over and pour the sauce over the top. Use your brush to make sure each piece of chicken is covered with sauce.
Continue baking for a total of 50 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Baste the chicken with the sauce midway through the cook time. As the chicken cooks and the sauce reduces, it creates a sticky glaze over the crispy chicken skin.
Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving for maximum stickiness.
TIP: You can use any chicken pieces that you like, but I think the drumsticks work particularly well. The dark meat retains its juiciness during the oven cooking and picking up a drumstick guarantees you have to lick your sticky fingers!
- Chicken: as mentioned in the above TIP, any chicken will do, but dark meat works best for Sticky Lemon Chicken. If you use the breasts or wings you will need to reduce the cooking time to avoid drying the chicken out. Use a meat thermometer or instant read thermometer to determine doneness.
- Rice: I like Jasmine rice with Sticky Lemon Chicken. Brown rice will work just fine.
- Shallot: If you don't have shallot, finely minced onion will work. Red onion will add the pretty color like the shallot does.
- Honey: Real honey is best but in a pinch you could substitute agave nectar or light corn syrup. Avoid strong flavors like molasses and maple syrup. If you want to go very bold, use hot honey in place of the honey and the crushed red pepper flakes. Yum!
Variations for Sticky Lemon Chicken
- Sticky Lemon Salmon sounds fantastic!
- Sticky Lemon Chicken Wings would be great on game day.
- Sticky Lemon Ribs? I would use a mild rub on the ribs, cook until tender then add the sauce and continue cooking in the oven until the sauce thickens and gets sticky.
Sticky Lemon Chicken
- 9"x13" Ovenproof baking dish
- Small saucepan
- 4-6 chicken pieces I used drumsticks
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot finely minced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- Juice of two lemons about ¼ cup
- 1 hot chile finely chopped (I used a Thai chili, but you could substitute crushed red pepper flakes)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3-4 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups cooked rice
- Pat chicken pieces dry and place in a glass baking dish. Leave space between pieces. Chicken will brown better if the pieces are not touching.
- Brush olive oil over the chicken and move the chicken around in the oil to coat each piece. Place the chicken in a preheated 350-degree oven to start cooking while you prepare the sauce.
- Add the remaining olive oil (1-1.5 tablespoons) into a small saucepan and heat over low heat.
- Add the shallot, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Add the honey and stir to combine.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and pour the sauce over the chicken. Brush to cover evenly.
- Continue baking for a total of 50 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees F. Baste the chicken with the sauce midway through the cook time. Do not flip the chicken pieces over.
- Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving for maximum stickiness. Spoon the sauce over hot rice.
Approximate nutrition information is provided as a convenience and courtesy only. You are encouraged to do your own calculations if precise data is required.