How To Make Chicken With Lemon

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If you’ve always wondered “how to cook chicken with lemon” then read on. This step by step guide will show you how to cook chicken with lemon and make a delicious meal for your friends and family.

Chicken with lemon is one of my favorite dishes. It’s quick and easy to make, yet it’s really fancy. Whenever I make this dish, I’m always super proud of myself because it looks like a lot of work went into it—but it didn’t!

Lemon Chicken

This easy lemon chicken recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner! Not too lemony, just right. It’s made with garlic, butter, lemon, thyme, and rosemary.

Lemon Chicken
Elise Bauer

Overheard at the market, “I’m a breast girl.” “Really? I’m definitely a thigh girl,” pause…”dark meat, so much more flavor.”

Had to laugh, I’m so so so much a thigh girl myself. What’s the secret to wonderful lemon chicken? Use chicken thighs (or legs, but thighs are easier to eat), bone-in and skin-on.

Lemon Chicken

Tips for Making Lemon Chicken

Lemon is acidic and helps balance the stronger flavor of the dark meat in thighs and legs, and the fat from the chicken skin.

Of course, you can use chicken breasts if you prefer. Depending on the size of your pieces, you probably won’t need to cook them as long as thighs.

Don’t like the skin? Not everyone does. But do cook with the skin-on if you can. Cooking with the skin on not only protects the meat from drying out, the chicken gets bathed with the flavor from the skin while it cooks.

Lemon Chicken
Elise Bauer

A Fan Favorite

This recipe has been one of the most popular on Simply Recipes for years. It’s easy to make—just a simple marinade with lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and herbs, and then into the oven it goes.

And the taste is just right! Not so lemony it makes your mouth pucker. Perfect to go with rice, buttered noodles, angel hair pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

PREP TIME10 mins

COOK TIME45 mins

MARINATING60 mins

TOTAL TIME115 mins

SERVINGS4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds chicken parts (thighs and legs recommended), skin-on, bone-in, trimmed of excess fat
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest (about zest from 2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme (or 2 teaspoons dried)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped rosemary (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Lemon slices for garnish

Method

  1. Marinate chicken:Place lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a large, non-reactive bowl, whisk to combine.With the tip of a sharp knife, cut into the underside (skinless) of each chicken piece one or two times by about 1/2 an inch. (This will help the marinade penetrate.)Place the chicken pieces in the bowl and turn to coat with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 1 to 2 hours.Raw Chicken Marinated and Zested With Lemon
  2. Place chicken in baking dish, brush with butter:Preheat oven to 425°F. Remove chicken from marinade and place in a single layer in a large baking dish, skin side up. Reserve the marinade. Use a pastry brush to brush melted butter on each piece of chicken.Butter Brushed Lemon Chicken in Baking Dish
  3. Bake and baste with marinade:Bake for 20 minutes and baste the chicken pieces generously with the reserved marinade. Continue baking for another 15 to 25 minutes (a total of 35 to 45 minutes), until the skins are crispy brown, and the chicken is cooked through, juices running clear (internal temperature of 165°F).Depending on the size of the breasts, they may be ready before the thighs, so if you are cooking a mix of chicken parts, keep that in mind, you may have to take them out of the oven before the thighsFully Cooked Lemon Chicken Recipe In Baking Pan
  4. Let the chicken rest:Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest, covered in foil, for 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Save meat juices to serve with chicken:Pour the juices from the pan into a serving bowl. Use a tablespoon to skim the fat off the top (save the fat for cooking with later, or discard, but do not discard down the drain or it will solidify and clog your drain).Serve the chicken with the juices on the side or a little poured over the top of the chicken.

Lemon Chicken Recipe (with Lemon Butter Sauce)

This parmesan-crusted Lemon Chicken Recipe is so EASY to make and completely ready in 30 minutes! The quick garlic and lemon butter sauce enhances the flavor of the chicken and adds so much flavor to the dish!

Homemade lemon chicken recipe in a skillet topped with a lemon butter sauce and fresh lemon slices then garnished with herbs.

Lemon Chicken Recipe:

This dish is going to become a favorite chicken dinner recipe for BUSY evenings. The chicken breast is generously coated in parmesan and pan-fried to give it a crispy crust. The chicken is then smothered in a lemon butter sauce with garlic that adds so much flavor to the chicken.

We love easy 30-minute chicken recipes for busy weeknights and some of our go-to’s include Chicken Marsala, classic Chicken Parmesan and of course this easy lemon garlic chicken. With these recipes in your arsenal, you can make restaurant-quality meals for a fraction of the price of eating out.

Parmesan crusted chicken breast on a bed of mashed potatoes and zucchini in a lemon butter sauce topped with greens.

How to Make Lemon Chicken:

With just a few simple ingredients a few minutes of prep time, you can have yourself the most DELICIOUS crispy chicken breast in a buttery garlic lemon sauce!

  1. Cut chicken in half lengthwise and beat with a meat mallet to an even thickness.
  2. Prepare Egg Mixture – whisk together eggs, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Prepare Parmesan Mixture – in a separate bowl, mix together the parmesan cheese and flour.
  4. Dredge the Chicken – coat in the egg mixture, then generously coat in parmesan mixture, shaking off excess.
  5. Cook Chicken. Add oil to a hot skillet then add breaded chicken and cook 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown and the internal temperature reads 165˚F with an Instant Read Thermometer.

Cook’s Tip – If the chicken crust begins to brown too quickly, reduce heat allowing the chicken to fully cook through.

Step-by-step collage instructions how to make lemon chicken with lemon butter sauce.

How to Make Lemon Butter Sauce:

This 5-minute EASY lemon butter sauce will become a staple in your home. The sauce is tangy from the fresh lemon and butter and the garlic just brings all the flavors together – SO GOOD!

For a quicker dinner, prepare the lemon sauce in a separate saucepan or skillet while the chicken is cooking. Then just pour the sauce over the chicken once it is cooked. Or, you can just cook the chicken, remove it from the skillet (cover to keep warm) and prepare the sauce in the same skillet, then add the chicken back.

  1. Saute the garlic and butter until fragrant.
  2. Whisk in the lemon juice, chicken broth, Italian seasoning, and pepper. Allow the sauce to cook over med heat for about 2 minutes.

NOTE: We love the fresh and tangy lemon flavor in this recipe. If you prefer a less lemony flavor, reduce the lemon juice.

Parmesan crusted chicken with a lemon butter sauce in a skillet topped lemon slices.

Can I make this Ahead?

If you like to prep dinner in advance, slice the chicken and add it to the egg mixture, cover and refrigerate until you are ready for dinner. Allowing the chicken to marinate will result in a juicier and more tender chicken breast. Then, just continue with the remaining recipe instructions.

Can I make the Lemon Chicken without Parmesan Crust?

Yes! For a healthier option, completely omit the egg mixture and parmesan mixture. Slice the chicken breast and season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Then, continue with the preparation of the sauce.

Substituting for Chicken Thighs?

This lemon chicken will work with chicken breast, chicken thighs, and even chicken tenderloins. You will want to prepare the recipe according to the instructions, the only difference will be in the cooking time. The cook time will depend on the size of the thighs, you want the internal temperature to reach 165F on an instant-read thermometer.

Adding Vegetables to the Chicken in Skillet:

Yes, you may definitely add vegetables to complete the dish. Asparagus, green beans, and zucchini will all go great with the lemon sauce and compliment the chicken

Lemon Chicken

  • SERVES: 6
  • PREP TIME: 5 min
  • COOK TIME: 30 min
  • CALORIES: 237
  • DAIRY-FREE
  • GLUTEN FREE
  • LOW-CARB
  • WHOLE30
  • 30 MINUTES
  • KID FRIENDLY
Lemon Chicken breasts baked in a baking dish

Our easy lemon chicken recipe shines with a sunny, lemony zing. Garlic and herbs—plus a glug of white wine—mean that these juicy, tender chicken breasts are as delicious as they are healthy.

A Healthy, Baked Chicken Breast That’s Anything but Boring (We Promise!)

Lemon chicken is really just a simple baked chicken recipe, jazzed up with some punchy ingredients that add lots of flavor without taking away from how super-healthy baked chicken breasts are. Our lemon chicken recipe is fast and easy—a recipe you might turn to on a busy weeknight when you need dinner to be simple as it can be. It’s also a great one to include in your weekend meal-prep (if you do that kind of thing) because one of the many reasons we love lemon chicken breasts is their versatility. Having a container of them in the fridge, all baked and ready to go, means you’ve got the makings of lots of meals! They can anchor a simple and healthy lunch salad, and are delicious sliced up into hearty sandwiches—ones where the bread is slathered with mayo and Homemade Pesto—for dinner, too.

Ingredients laid out for Lemon chicken, chicken breast, lemon, olive oil, lemon juice, brown sugar, garlic, spices
spices in a bowl with olive oil
4 chicken breasts with olive oil and spices in a baking dish.
lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.

A Flavor-Giving Trifecta Makes this the Best Lemon Chicken Recipe, Ever.

Let’s start with the good news: lean and protein-packed, boneless, skinless chicken breast is super healthy! The bad news: boneless, skinless chicken breast is kind of bland! The solution? Use the chicken breast as a blank canvas for all of your favorite big flavors, without undermining its’ inherent healthfulness. Our lemon chicken recipe does all of that thanks to a few of our favorite big, bright flavors:

  • Lemon, three ways. We aren’t messing around—this isn’t just lemon chicken. It’s LEMON chicken! We use lemon zest, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and whole lemon slices to give this lemon chicken recipe all of the citrusy punch that we possibly can.
  • Garlic, two ways. We could maybe have called this lemon garlic chicken, since our recipe calls for both fresh garlic cloves and (you guessed it) our beloved garlic powder.
  • Herbs, herbs and more herbs. A whole garden’s worth of fragrance and flavor, all from a few dried herbs that you probably already have in your pantry.
lemon chicken breast in a baking dish with herbs and lemon juice and lemon slices

How To Make Lemon Chicken

Our easy, baked lemon chicken recipe is healthy, fast, and so, so delicious. The key is coating the lemon chicken with lots of moisture-giving things, and watching that internal temp closely so that you don’t over-bake the chicken.

  1. Make a lemon chicken marinade. Well, it’s really more like a rub or a paste, because our lemon chicken recipe requires no actual marinating (yay!). But basically, we coat the chicken breasts in a thick, olive oil-based herb paste flavored with oregano, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Make the lemon chicken sauce! Stir together all of the zingy things—white wine, fresh garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice—to make the sauce that the chicken breasts will bake in. You’ll also use this sauce to baste the chicken as it bakes, ensuring that these bright flavors have a chance to be absorbed by the chicken (without having to actually marinate the chicken).
  3. Bake! Until you get that internal temperature reading of 165°F. Then it’s time to dig in!

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