Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs {Slow Cooker Recipe}

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs

I have become a little obsessed with the slow cooker lately. It’s just so convenient to start dinner in the morning but have it ready to go when the kids get hungry at approximately 5:30pm.

My dad found this Emeril recipe a couple years ago for Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs. We made it when I lived in Hawaii and I tried it one other time after that. I really loved how the onions and garlic cook down and take on a whole new flavor. The recipe calls for sauteing everything and then baking it for about 30 minutes. I decided this time I’d transform it into a slow cooker meal.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs

I changed a few things: I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in to cut down some fat (plus it was what I had on hand, but you could definitely use bone-in if you prefer) and I cut back on the oil, salt and changed some of the other measurements.  This would be great using a whole cut-up chicken too.

I just put a quick sear on the chicken thighs and threw them into the slow cooker along with all the other ingredients.  Although Emeril’s recipe calls for 30 cloves of garlic (yeah you read that right!), I cut it down to 20 and it was plenty. In about 4 hours I had the most wonderful tender, juicy, lemony dish ready to serve over pasta. Now if you don’t like garlic or onion, please know that when they cook down for that long they get sweet and delicious and totally different than their raw form.

Not a fan of pasta? You could serve over couscous or rice instead, but I really recommend some sort of starch to soak up all the delicious lemony broth. Oh the broth that you end up with is.SO.good.

My kids ate pieces of the chicken over the angel hair with the sauce (minus the onions/garlic)-  but I made sure to work around the red pepper flakes.

Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs

I am starting to feel human again after last week- after all the sad events happening all over the world, combined with my husband being out of town, me and my kids catching colds and my daughter catching a 24 hour stomach bug, I did not get much sleep. I am hoping to have a much better week- hope you do to!

Here our simple meal plan for the week. We went over-budget this month so I am trying to hold out on grocery shopping. Everything planned, at least the first half of the week is more by necessity and what we have on hand, than by choice.


Chicken Tamales (from the freezer), Corn and Tomato Salad with Cilantro


Salmon, Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus 


Leftovers from Sunday


Grilled Chicken with Pesto, Sauteed Kale, ? some other side dish


Buffalo Chicken Salad


Friend Visiting- Out to dinner!


Lemon-Garlic Chicken Thighs
Prep time
Total time
  • 8 chicken thighs, ~2 pound boneless or 3½ pounds with bones/skin
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus some for seasoning the chicken
  • black pepper
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups thinly sliced onions
  • 20 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, reserve 4 of the halves after juicing to throw into the pot
  • 1¼ cup low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil for garnish
  1. Trim fat off chicken thighs. Season with salt and pepper, set aside.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Place flour in a shallow dish; lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, add half of the chicken to pan and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until a light brown crust forms (repeat with remaining thighs).
  3. Transfer chicken to the slow cooker. Add onions, garlic cloves, crushed red pepper, bay leaf, lemon juice, chicken broth, ½ teaspoon salt and 4 of the lemon halves (that were juiced) to the slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook for 3½ to 4 hours on high. Serve over angel hair pasta with lots of the broth and juices from the slow cooker. Top with fresh chopped parsley or basil if desired.
For the stovetop/oven method:
  1. Brown chicken for 3 minutes per side on medium-high heat, remove chicken from pan. Add onions, cook for about 3 minutes, scraping up brown bits on the pan. Add garlic, crushed red pepper, salt, bay leaf and cook 1 minute. Add lemon juice, broth and browned chicken thighs to pan. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover tightly and place in the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, remove lid, bake an additional 15 minutes or until cooked through and tender.
It's optional to throw in the lemon halves into the slow cooker but it just infuses the dish with more lemony flavor. If you are cooking it all day you might prefer to skip this step.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse, the Food Network


 Question: What’s on your meal plan? Do you have any favorite slow cooker recipes?

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  1. says

    Hubs requested a chicken recipe for dinner this week – wish I would have had this one earlier! Next week maybe. Our family has been hit with colds, fevers, and a stomach bug too. It’s been an exhausting week with that and the marathon events. I’m hoping this week is better for everyone.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Marathon Monday Week 10My Profile

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Absolutely Sarah! Chicken breasts are great in the slow cooker because it makes everything tender!

  2. Gretchen says

    Looks like a great company dish, I will give this a try sometime.

    Here is our menu for the week.
    Sun- made homemade pizza rolls turkey pepperoni and cheese for the kids, and veggies for us. The family loved them
    Mon-spring rolls and fruit for us and the smiths
    Tues- lettuce wraps
    Thurs-roasted chicken, potatoes, and veggies
    Fri-pizza or pizza rolls
    Sat- falafel wraps

    Apparently I am all for rolled up food this week!

  3. says

    YUM! Garlic and lemon are some of my favorite combos. And I could always use more slow-cooker recipes to add. I’d put it atop some spaghetti squash, or some cauli-mash, I think.
    Not many meals get planned too far in advance in our house. I try to have various meats in the freezer and will just take one out a day or two early, and figure out something to make that day. Last night was all local: local fish and local veggies.
    Tonight I’m craving a burger, but it’s rainy here, so it may have to be prepped inside.
    Thanks for sharing =)
    E recently posted..W.I.L.L. – fitness edition: Injinji {& a Giveaway}My Profile

  4. Sarah MomRunnungonEmpty says

    I’m pretty excited about this recipe since I just took chicken thighs out of the freezer to defrost for tomorrow and I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I felt like doing with them!! I do a week’s worth of prep work for lunches Sunday night and I usually have a tough plan if what we will eat for the four nights a week we are home for dinner! I wish we weren’t headed in opposite directions the other 3 nights life and work do tend to get in the way!!!

  5. Tiffanie says

    Hi I am new to nutritious eats we don’t have fresh garlic or onions its a low budget month. What I have on hand is chicken thighs, bottle lemon juice, dehydrated red onion in a bottle from the produce dept, minced jar garlic, we will see about red pepper flakes not sure I can get those lol ,chicken stock and either spaghetti,penne,fusilli,or fettucini noodles not sure what would be best or how to prep them also i have idaho potatoes i could quarter and use but im wondering what ration garlic and onions i would use? also is there a way to make this with adding the raw pasta or potatoes in it? =) sorry I have so many questions making this tomorrow night I hope 😉

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Hi Tiffanie,
      Sorry I didn’t get this in time. Did you end up making it? I don’t think it will come out quite the same without the fresh onions/garlic because it calls for SO much of both but you could definitely just try using a little of both. I am sorry I don’t have an exact answer for you re the portions of dehydrated onions & pre-minced garlic but I have never used dehydrated so not sure on the flavor. You could definitely skip the pasta (although the spaghetti would work fine) and cook the potatoes along with the chicken. That would be like baking a chicken with potatoes and should work fine. Do you have dried oregano? That would add some extra flavor that you will be lacking with the fresh garlic/onions. Good luck!

  6. Tiffanie says

    Yes I made it and it was phenomenal the broth was delicious! =) I used 4 tablespoons minced garlic, 1tbsp chopped onion, 2 1/2 cups chicken stock ,1/4 cup lemon juice,6 potataoes peeled and quartered, 1tbsp oregano,trio peppercorn,salt, 1tbsp. chives ,and basil fresh from our garden soo yummy,I also opted the bone in chicken thighs ! 😉 Tasted so fresh without overkill in seasoning! Thanks so much I will put my own recipes up really soon! =)

  7. Carol says

    I made your lemon-garlic chicken thigh recipe yesterday. It was truly the best slow-cooker recipe I’ve tried in quite awhile, and definitely moved to the top of my chicken thigh recipes. It smelled so good while cooking, that when my four year old grandson arrived, he begged me to let him try it right away. He ate a small piece and asked for more! I served it on thin spaghetti with just picked Italian parsley and parmesan cheese. The parsley really set it off. I love the combination of lemon and parsley together. I had additional red pepper flakes on mine. I was so excited about this dish, that I sent my sister a text about it and she’s making it today! I just subscribed to your site and look forward to trying more of your recipes.

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Hi Carol, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed it! I just got back from a long vacation and look forward to creating more recipes. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for the comment!

  8. Laine says

    Im wondering if I can cook it on low for 8 hours? If I throw it in the crock pot before work I won’t be back in 4 hours. Or do I cook it for 4 hours and let it shut off on its own?

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      I would try low for 8 hours…that usually works out to be the same as high for 3-4. Hope it turns out for you! :)

    • Melanie Flinn, MS, RD says

      Breasts would be fine, but maybe not quite as tender and flavorful, but still with a lot of flavor I am sure.

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