Crispy Un-Fried Chicken Thighs (grain-free, healthy KFC copycat)

by | Mar 24, 2018 | Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Mains, Nut-Free, Paleo, Recipes | 13 comments

Inside Scoop: The most delicious grain and gluten-free Crispy Baked Chicken Thighs.


How did this even happen?

We started using nutritional yeast to roast veggies a little while ago, and it’s been undeniably delicious. As a matter of fact, nutritional yeast is our secret weapon and the best hack ever if you love baking fries or sweet potato fries (check out this amazing recipe for sweet potato fries which will pair perfectly with this chicken BTW). But something happened and we stumbled across the crispiest oven baked chicken thigh recipe that contains no grains and no breading but it still packed with flavour.




Why didn’t we think of dousing almost everything we cook in nutritional yeast sooner?

Then Jenni stumbled across a method for crispy baked chicken wings on the interweb that involved using baking powder!!!??? WHATTTT.

We’re not too sure what it was about the baking powder that made the chicken crisp up as if it was fried, but it worked. It worked so well that the meat and potatoes loving husband asks for it constantly.

Just a note that baking powder typically contains corn starch which is ok for most people even if they are grain-free. If you are extremely sensitive then you may want to try and make your own by combining baking powder, cream of tartar and arrowroot flour. You can find a recipe here.

So, we thought hey, wonder what nutritional yeast + baking powder would do to a healthier version of crispy baked chicken thighs?

Mind. Blown.

There’s something about nutritional yeast that adds a huge flavour element (but in a healthy way). It’s nutty, flavourful, tasty, almost cheesy and when you add it to recipes it elevates whatever it is you’re cooking.

This grain-free chicken thigh recipe has been cooked 100x over and it’s always a no fail. Even if it’s over-cooked, it’s still a no fail, the chicken just gets crispier.


Grain-free Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Recipe benefits:
  • Grain and gluten-free
  • Minimal ingredients and incredibly simple to cook
  • Contains healthy fats
  • Something you can make a large batch of and freeze for later cooking days

As mentioned above, this recipe pairs perfectly with our Sweet Potato Fries  and Simple Kale Salad. Simple, affordable and an incredibly healthy dinner awaits you, and it tasted just like a night out at KFC, but you get to eat oven baked crispy chicken thigh

If you’ve tried this dinner, comment below and let us know what you think!


grain-free crispy oven baked chicken thighs
5 from 1 vote

Crispy Un-Fried Oven Baked Chicken Thighs

This recipe for Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Thighs (gluten-free/ grain-free) is an amazing healthy alternative that taste just like KFC! Simple prep, minimal ingredients, and an ingredient that will shock you.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Healthy
Keyword Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Thighs
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
resting time 5 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 560 kcal


  • 8 chicken thighs bone in or boneless, we go boneless**
  • 1 Tbsp avocado oil or oil of choice
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder


  1. Pre-heat oven 400 F.
  2. Take the chicken thighs and pat dry with paper towel.
  3. Mix all seasoning (minus baking powder).
  4. Toss chicken in baking powder in a large bowl.
  5. Then toss chicken in the remaining seasoning.
  6. Add oil, toss again to fully coat chicken.
  7. Spray a rack and place on top of a foil lined baking tray (make sure your oven has enough space to place the tray in it).
  8. Place the chicken on the sprayed rack.
  9. Place in oven and bake 30-40 min or until chicken is fully cooked at 165 F.
  10. Remove from oven and serve with salad and fries.

Naughty Nutrition

Naughty Nutrition


  1. Eunice Robertson

    I have a problem with yeast. I don’t get vaginal thrush, or oral thrush, but it causes me to break out in patches of fungal infection on my skin, especially in folds. What can I use instead of yeast, or can i omit it altogether?

    • Mirna Sharafeddine

      Yes you can definitely omit it all together, the baking powder allows for the chicken thighs to crisp up nicely. When we first started working this recipe we didn’t use nutritional yeast at all. However, nutritional yeast is an deactivated form of yeast and doesn’t usually have the same affect on our bodies as something like bakers or brewers yeast. Deactivated yeast means that the yeast species cannot multiply and infect you. You can check out this resource but we totally get the ‘let’s not risk it’ aspect, and from that perspective, this recipe will work just fine without the nutritional yeast.

  2. 5960 S 186ave

    Can i use chicken breast?

    • Naughty Nutrition

      Hi Tracy. Yes, you can absolutely try that option. You may want to cut up the chicken breast into 2-3 pieces.Let us know how it turns out.

  3. selsword

    This looks delicious- I’m trying it tonight. did you keep the skin on the thighs?

    • Naughty Nutrition

      I used boneless skinless thighs, but you can absolutely keep the skin on the thighs. Just ensure you use a rack or else they don’t crisp up. Alternatively, you can fry them for 5 minutes each side in some avocado oil or ghee to keep that skin nice and crispy.

      • selsword

        Thank you! This recipe is awesome, a new fave in our home. Can’t wait to check out your other recipes

        • Naughty Nutrition

          Thank you so much and excited to hear what you think when you try some other recipes. Desserts are highly recommended 🙂

  4. Zee

    This is not grain free because baking powder contains cornstarch. Didn’t you know that? Never fear, it’s easy to make your own using two parts cream of tartar to one part baking soda. This recipe is delicious when made truly grain free.

    Don’t believe that a tiny bit of cornstarch can do damage. I know many people who have been grain free for years, including myself, who will most definitely have a reaction to even this small amount of grain. Proof yet again that grains are truly toxic to human health.

    • Naughty Nutrition

      Hello Zee, Thank you so much for the observation. We have adde a line to note that with a link to a recipe.

      We are all about balance and don’t like to label foods. Whole grains are part of the diets of some of the longest living people, and when grown and prepared right can be a wonderful addition to one’s diet. We do also know that they’re not for everyone, so it’s all individual.

  5. Taji Ramirez

    Hi! First, this looks and sounds amazing!! I was just wondering if there is any way I could make this same recipe but in a skillet instead as I do not have an oven (small studio apartment).

    • Naughty Nutrition

      Hello Taji, they are really delicious and crispy. We’re not sure how the texture will turn out but the skillet option should work. You can check the instructions here: Just make sure that the thighs are cooked through which may take longer than 20 minutes. Enjoy!

  6. Kelly

    Your pictures look both bone in and skin on…yet your comments say the opposite. I don’t see a point in baking powder unless there is skin…as I use this method alot. I have boneless skinless thighs…and was looking for a nutritional yeast coating to replace a shake n bake or bread crumb.
    Am I missing something? Looks good otherwise.


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