Fresh, flavorful Lemon Chicken is incredibly easy to make and totally mouthwatering, too! Black pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, and chicken are all tied together with fresh lemon – a perfect combination.
A Fresh and Zesty Chicken Recipe You’ll Love!
Lemon chicken may not sound exciting, but believe me, you are going to love this recipe because not only is it bursting with fresh, zesty flavor, but it’s also good for you. Juicy, lean chicken breasts marinated in an amazing lemon juice mixture with plenty of black pepper, garlic, and fresh herbs.
And guess what? You don’t have to get a huge jumpstart on this recipe. Since the chicken only needs half an hour to marinate (although you can do up to two hours if you like), this recipe works for weeknights, weekends, or whenever. Try it once; it might just be your new favorite cooking way to cook chicken breast.
What Does Lemon Juice Do to Your Chicken?
Lemon juice is amazing for marinades because it adds a fresh, bright flavor to your chicken. On top of that, it’s a fantastic tenderizer, breaking down the chicken just a bit so that it turns out extra tender and juicy. In fact, you have to be careful not to over-marinate, or the chicken will break down too much and become mushy. Half an hour is fine, or up to two hours.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
I like to use everything fresh, fresh, fresh for the best flavor in the marinade. But if you need to substitute, no worries – it’s still going to be delicious.
- Lemon Juice: Fresh lemon juice is best, but bottled is also good.
- Olive Oil
- Garlic: Fresh minced garlic. If you don’t want to mince it, a garlic press makes this super easy.
- Herbs: Rosemary, thyme, and parsley. So good! I like to use fresh herbs, but dried ones would be fine, too. If you use fresh, make sure to avoid any tough stems.
- Salt and Pepper
- Chicken Breast: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
Let’s Make Lemon Chicken!
Making this lemon chicken recipe is quick and easy. It’s just right for a casual dinner. You can also use it for meal prep if you like!
- Make the Marinade. First, take a small mixing bowl, and combine the marinade ingredients in it: lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, herbs, salt, and black pepper. Give them a whisk to combine.
- Marinate the Chicken. Next, place the chicken breasts in a large zip-top bag, and pour the marinade over them. Seal the bag tightly, and shake it gently to coat the chicken all over. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- Cook the Chicken Breasts. When you’re ready to cook, set a large skillet over medium-high heat and add vegetable oil. Let it heat up, and then add the chicken breasts to the skillet and cook them for 5 – 7 minutes per side, adding a tablespoon of butter when you flip them to the other side. The chicken is done when it’s golden brown and cooked through – that’s 165°F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Let the Chicken Rest. Once the chicken breasts are cooked through, take them out of the skillet and let them rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
- Enjoy! Serve the lemon chicken sliced, with your favorite sides.
How Do You Cook Chicken Breast Without Drying It Out?
- This recipe is really great for making juicy chicken breast, because it uses three important techniques: marinating, cooking for a short time, and resting.
- Marinating the chicken tenderizes and helps create moist, flavorful meat. Cooking at a somewhat high heat for a slightly short amount of time is also helpful.
- The final tip for juicy chicken is to rest it. This lets the juices redistribute into the meat so that they stay in the chicken instead of running out onto the plate.
Helpful Recipe Tips
Making perfect lemon chicken doesn’t have to be hard, especially when you have these easy tips up your sleeve. Read on, and bon appetit!
- Change It Up: Feel free to make changes to this recipe. Want to use rosemary but not thyme? No problem! Use thighs instead of breasts? Go for it, but remember to increase the cooking tie. You can even add wine, shallots, and other flavorful ingredients to the marinade.
- Control the Heat: You really need the pan to be at medium-high heat in order to properly cook the chicken. If the pan is too cold, the chicken will dry out as it cooks, or worse – it will be underdone. Same problem if your pan is too hot. Keep an eye on that temperature. The chicken should be beautifully golden, not pale and not burned, once it cooks for about 6 minutes per side.
- Don’t Crowd the Pan: Speaking of golden-brown chicken, make sure not to over-crowd the pan. Cook the chicken in batches, if necessary, so that the chicken has room to sizzle and doesn’t end up steaming or simmering in its own juice.
- Use a Thermometer: Nothing’s worse than having chicken that looks perfect on the outside but is still raw on the inside! To avoid the dreaded underdone chicken disaster, use a good meat thermometer. Chicken breast should cook until it’s 165°F in the thickest part of the meat.
Savory Side Dish Suggestions
A good side dish or two is all you’ll need to round out your menu here. Want some suggestions? These easy recipes would be just right.
- Brussels Sprouts: Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a healthy, easy-to-make side dish with tons of caramelized veggie flavor. Make them once, and you’ll totally want to add them to your weekly menu rotation!
- Gnocchi: Potato gnocchi would be excellent here, tossed with a bit of butter – but don’t sleep on semolina gnocchi either! Classic Gnocchi Alla Romana is a buttery, cheesy, comforting dish that would pair beautifully with tangy lemon chicken.
- Garlic Knots: These easy Garlic Knots are made from refrigerated dough that you can pick up at the grocery store. A fun, savory way to add a few cozy carbs to your meal.
Storing and Reheating
- Lemon chicken will stay fresh in your refrigerator for 3 – 4 days. Make sure to store it in an airtight container or food storage bag, for the best results.
- Reheat in a covered skillet over low heat, just until the chicken is warmed through. If it seems dry, add a tiny bit of water or oil to the pan while it heats.
Can I Freeze Lemon Chicken?
- Yes, you can! If you’d like to freeze this dish, make sure to cool it to about room temperature first. Then place the chicken in a freezer container or freezer bag, mark it with the date, and store in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Lemon Chicken Breasts Recipe
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
- ½ tablespoon salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, chopped rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt, and black pepper.
- Place the chicken breasts in a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over the chicken. Seal the bag tightly and shake it gently to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade.
- Marinate the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add a couple of chicken breasts to the skillet (don't crowd the skillet) and cook for 5 to 6 minutes; flip the chicken breasts over, add 1 tablespoon of butter, swirl butter around, and continue to cook the chicken for 7 more minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165˚F. Cooking time will always depend on the thickness of the chicken breasts.Remove the chicken breasts from the skillet and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken breasts. Add more oil and/or butter if needed.
- Let the chicken breasts rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
- Garnish with fresh chopped parsley and a slice of lemon.
- Serve the lemon chicken with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables or rice.
- Chicken: This recipe is for boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can use chicken thighs, too, but you’ll have to increase the cooking time.
- Fresh herbs: You can use any combination of fresh or dried herbs that you like. Tip: 2 teaspoons of fresh herbs is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon dried.
- Cooking Oil: I suggest using vegetable oil for cooking the chicken because it has a high smoke point. If you can, try to avoid using olive oil.
- Don’t Crowd the Pan: Cook the chicken in batches so that the chicken has room to sizzle and doesn’t end up steaming or simmering in its juices.
- Thermometer: The only way to tell if the chicken is cooked through and cooked to an ideal temperature is by using an Instant Read Meat Thermometer. Chicken breasts are cooked through when the internal temperature registers at 165°F.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate them for 3 to 4 days. Reheat in a covered skillet over low heat just until the chicken is warmed through.
- If you’d like to freeze the chicken breasts, cool them to about room temperature first. Then place the chicken in a freezer container or freezer bag, mark it with the date, and store in your freezer for up to 3 months.