Looking for an easy dinner? This tasty lemon chicken recipe is your ticket. The secret is in the marinade, loaded with lemon juice, olive oil, fresh garlic, and a few Mediterranean spices. If you don’t feel like firing up the grill, you can totally cook it in a skillet or grill-pan! I love to serve this with Toum Garlic Sauce and Grilled Vegetables or Greek salad. You’ll find many more ideas in the post below. Video and step-by-step tutorial included!
I’m sorry to disappoint you if you ever thought otherwise, but I do make some of the same dinners over and over for my family. There are just some recipes that are so darn easy, I can’t help but repeat them. Case in point: lemon chicken…and don’t let the grill marks fool you, I did not even consider firing up the grill! (Watch the video toward the bottom of this post, an amusing grilling argument takes place between me and a friend who’s a grill master!)
Why this Lemon Chicken Recipe Works?
So we’ve already established that I’m lazy and that I gravitate towards easy recipes, but the flavor is what totally sells this chicken. If you’re thinking the secret is in the lemon chicken marinade, you are absolutely correct! Let me give you the gist…
The star flavor maker, of course, is lemon…lots of it. But before the citrus even hits, we give the chicken a good coating of Mediterranean spices–dried oregano, coriander, cumin, and a little nutmeg. Then comes lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, lots of fresh garlic and onions. Even if you only leave the chicken in the marinade for just a few minutes, it will be enough for all the flavors to marry! But of course, if you have time to cover and refrigerate for a bit, that’s always a plus.
You can fire up an outdoor grill, or you can cook this chicken in any good o’l cast skillet or grill-pan like this one. It’ll take about 6 minutes or so on each side to fully cook. But don’t worry, because we used thighs here, you won’t mess the chicken up if you leave it a bit longer on the heat while you make your salad or something.
Step-by-Step for this Lemon Chicken Recipe:
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and coat with spices (oregano, coriander, cumin, and nutmeg). Place in a dish or bowl with onions. Add the mixture of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Give the chicken a good toss, making sure it’s well coated in the marinade. If you have the time, cover and refrigerate. Otherwise, leave the chicken in the marinade for a few minutes before cooking.
2. Heat a grill or a grill-pan to medium-high. Grill some lemon halves until soft and nicely charred. Set them aside to serve later. The grilled lemon halves are optional but so worth adding for the fancy factor 🙂
3. Now, lightly oil the grill pan and add the chicken (discard onion and marinade) cook for 6 to 7 minutes or so on each side or until chicken is fully cooked through.
What to serve with these Lemon Chicken Thighs?
Of course if you want to add vegetables to this skillet chicken, you totally can. Make more of the same spice mixture to season some diced vegetables–I like a combination of zucchini, onions, and red peppers. Or, try one of these awesome Mediterranean sides: Greek green beans, roasted Greek potatoes, or Lebanese rice. I mentioned Greek salad earlier, but this loaded Balela Salad is a great option as well. If you’re into dips, definitely try this roasted garlic hummus.
Can I use Chicken Breast Instead?
Yes, if you prefer to use chicken breast in this recipe, you will need about 3 large chicken breast halves (boneless, skinless). Be sure to cut the chicken breast pieces horizontally through the middle to create thinner cutlets (ending with 6 cutlets here.) I also like to use a kitchen mallet to help tenderize the chicken breasts (this is a trick I use often to tenderize chicken breasts and prepare them for even and quick cooking. You can see how I do it in this Italian Baked Chicken Recipe.)
Watch the Video for How to Make Lemon Chicken:
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This lemon chicken recipe is an easy weeknight dinner that will not disappoint. If you have the time, let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a few hours. But if not, letting it marinate at room temperature for just a few minutes will still impart flavor. See suggestions in notes for what to serve along!
For Spice Mixture
- 2 tsp /2 g dried oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp / 3.9 g ground coriander
- 1 1/2 tsp / 3.9 g ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp/ 1.9 g ground nutmeg
- 1/3 cup / 80 ml lemon juice
- 1/4 cup / 60 ml Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil
- 2 to 3 tsp / 5.6 g minced garlic
- 1.5 lb (6 to 7 pieces) /681 grams boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use chicken breast, see notes)
- Kosher salt and pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 lemons, halved
- Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- In a small bowl, add the spices and mix to make the spice mixture. And in another bowl or large measuring cup, combine the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic to make the marinade.
- Pat chicken dry and season with kosher salt and pepper. Sprinkle generously with the spice mixture on both sides.
- Place chicken in a shallow glass container or dish. Add onions. Pour in the marinade, work the chicken a bit to make sure all the pieces are well covered with the marinade. Cover. At this point, you can leave it to marinate in room temperature for about 20 to 30 minutes, or if you have the time, refrigerate for up to 8 hours (this will ensure the most flavor.)
- When ready, heat a grill pan like this one over medium-high heat (or an outdoor grill also over medium-high heat). Do not add oil yet to the pan. Add the lemon halves, flesh-side down to grill briefly. Remove grilled lemons and set aside for now.
- Now brush the pan with a little extra virgin olive oil (I used Private Reserve). Using a pair of tongs, add chicken pieces in one layer (discard any remaining marinade). Cook for 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is well cooked through; you can adjust heat to medium if needed (when fully cooked, internal temperature should register 165 degrees F.)
- Transfer to a serving platter. Add the grilled lemons (which you can squeeze for a little more juice), and garnish with parsley. See notes for serving ideas.
- Cook’s Tip: you can use boneless skinless chicken breasts here instead of chicken thighs. Up to 3 large chicken breast halves, but be sure to cut them horizontally through the middle to create thinner cutlets. I also like to use a kitchen mallet to help tenderize the chicken breasts.
- What to Serve Along? This lemon chicken is great with Greek Green Beans, Greek potatoes, or Lebanese rice and a large Greek salad or Balela Salad. A little roasted garlic hummus or tzatziki sauce are the perfect addition.
- Leftovers? Leftover lemon chicken can be refrigerated in a tight-lid container for 3 to 4 days.
- Recommended for this Recipe: Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koroneiki olives. SAVE! Try our Greek Olive Oil Bundle!
- Recommended Spices for this Recipe: coriander, cumin, and nutmeg. SAVE! Try our Ultimate Mediterranean Spice Bundle, or create your own 3-pack or 6-pack from our all-natural and organic spice collections.
- Category: Entree
- Method: Pan Grilled
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keywords: Lemon chicken, Mediterranean chicken recipe, chicken thighs, grilled lemon chicken
*This post has been recently updated with new media and information for readers’ benefit.