Holiday Saver: Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken Legs Recipe

Posted On Dec 12, 2018 By Amanda Wormann

Roasted chicken legs topped with lemon slices in a cast iron skillet

December has arrived and the holiday rush is on. Late nights at the mall shopping for gifts, planning for family gatherings, making lists and checking them twice – it can all feel so draining during a time that’s meant to be uplifting. And, well, the bank accounts are a bit drained, too.

It’s tempting to move our wellness goals to the back burner, putting our sleigh in cruise control and doing whatever feels easiest to ride out this busy time of year. But do yourself a favor and skip the food courts and drive-thrus, you’ve been working hard all year and this month should be no exception.

Let’s all take a take a breath and remember: we’ve got this. Stay on track with money and time-saving meals. Bust out the slow-cooker and make a batch of hearty chili or pulled chicken to last you the week. Browse the meat aisle for manager’s specials or try out lower-cost proteins like chicken thighs, chicken legs, and ground turkey. These can be bought for next to nothing and prepared ahead of time for on-the-go meals during the week.

This lemon-thyme chicken leg recipe cost me less than five dollars to make. Yes, you read that right, LESS THAN FIVE DOLLARS. And you can make it all in one cast iron skillet, in just 45 minutes.

Lemon-Thyme Roasted Chicken Legs with Onions

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes

Total time: 50 minutes

Roasted chicken legs topped with lemon slices in a cast iron skillet


Dry Rub:

  • 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper


  • 2 lb. chicken legs
  • One yellow onion, sliced
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or cooking fat
  • Ghee or butter

To Get The Goods:

  1. Combine the dry rub ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken legs and toss to coat evenly. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large pan or cast iron skillet.
  2. Add chicken legs to skillet and brown each side of the legs. Rotate to brown each side, but do not cook. Remove from skillet.
  3. Add sliced onions to the bottom of the skillet or baking dish. Arrange browned chicken legs on top of the onions. Add a thin slice of lemon on top of each leg, and top with a small dab of ghee or butter.
  4. Bake in the oven at 400 for 45 minutes, or until fully cooked. You can garnish with fresh thyme before serving to make it pretty, or add it during the last 5-10 minutes of baking for an extra boost of flavor.
Roasted chicken legs topped with lemon slices in a cast iron skillet

Pair the chicken legs with a healthy green like sautéed spinach, broccoli, or green beans. I also love serving over riced lemon-pepper cauliflower. You can find riced cauliflower in the frozen foods aisle. Cook in the microwave, toss in a little ghee or butter, squeeze of lemon and black pepper and you have yourself a tangy risotto-like side. Enjoy.

Tip: If using a cast iron skillet, you can use the same pan for browning and baking.