Lemon Chicken

I’m really amazed at how my tastes change with the seasons.  It’s certainly not intentional, but when the weather warms up I’m immediately in the mood for light, spring-inspired fare.  (Likewise, once fall rolls around, I’m all about chili and everything pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin!)  I have started to really enjoy lemon in desserts and baked goods, but I have yet to make many main dishes with lemon as the primary flavor.  The marinade and sauce provide just the right amount of lemon flavor without being overpowering or sour.  My main change was to dial down the amounts of fresh herbs because I thought they seemed a bit too much and I wanted the lemon to shine through.  I served this with baked garlic rice pilaf and roasted broccoli, and we thought the rice was the perfect compliment with its own little hint of lemon flavor.

Lemon Chicken
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2 tbsp. lemon zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, finely minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2-4 lbs. of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks
2-3 tbsp. melted butter
Thinly sliced lemons, for garnished

Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper in a large zipper-lock plastic bag.  Seal the bag and shake well to blend.  Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the marinade, pressing out excess air and sealing once more.  Refrigerate and let marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.  Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and transfer to a baking dish, skin-side up, reserving the leftover marinade.  Brush the top of each piece of chicken with melted butter.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, until the skins are crispy and well-browned.  Halfway through baking, pour the remaining marinade over the chicken pieces in the baking dish.  Once fully baked, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with lemon slices and serve.

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

40 Responses

  1. Looks wonderful!! What a beautiful picture.

  2. Annie, this is very similar to the recipe I use. It’s delish! Only other things I add is some grated onion and olive oil to the marinade/”vinagriette”. Hands down one of our faves.

  3. I love lemon with chicken. This looks amazing!! Beautiful recipe and photography!

  4. This really looks excellent! Chicken piccata is one of my absolute favorite dishes (and my husband’s), so I know that we’d love this as well. I too love lemon in the spring time!

  5. This looks great! Crisp and refreshing.

  6. This looks so good! We eat a ton of chicken so I have got to try this! I will link it back to you when I do 🙂

  7. I totally agree with you about changing tastes. I just wrote almost the same thing in my blog. Hooray for spring and for this delicious recipe!

  8. I have to say. I crave pumpkin year round. But other than that, it is definitely weird how tastes evolve. I was all about apples all fall. Then grapefruit all winter. Now we’ll see where the weather takes me…

    This looks delicious. I think with the sides, you’ve made an absolutely perfect meal.

  9. Truly summery, light and zesty, Annie. 🙂 This is so pretty with that wonderful crispy chicken skin. 🙂

  10. I could be wrong, but after you marinade something (especially chicken!) you should be throwing out any leftover marinade. Putting the excess marinade that has been in contact with raw chicken over cooked or semi-cooked chicken seems like a no-no to me. Perhaps since it’s only half-way through the cooking it would be heated enough to kill any bacteria? I don’t know, but when I try this, I’ll be skipping that step :/ (Or, making some extra marinade to reserve before coming in contact with the chicken.)
    Looks delicious though. I’ve not tried lemon chicken, ever. But my tastes are growing so I’ll give it a try!

    • Jen, normally you would be correct, but that extra 25 minutes or so of cooking time is plenty to kill the bacteria, especially at this high temperature. I think it’s fine, and I am a doctor after all 🙂

      • Thanks for replying to my comment! That sets my mind at ease a bit. We’ve never encountered any food-poisoning, and I didn’t want to risk it now haha. After all, the majority of food-poisoning incidents are from home-prepared meals.
        I may try the whole recipe now 🙂 Thanks again!

  11. This looks amazing and savory! When I make lemon chicken, it incorporates lemon jello powder, which freaks the husband out! I’ve have to try this one:)

  12. I noticed the same thing; my palate changes with the season, too. I’ve been wanting very light and summery flavors as well, especially citrus and cherry. Your chicken looks fantastic. 🙂


  13. Annie, I’m thinking of making this meal soon but have a question about how you made the chicken and the garlic rice for the same meal. One requires 375 degree oven while the other requires 425. Did you use two ovens or did you meet the temps in the middle? I would love to make this complete meal like you did because it sounds so good! Thanks!!

    • Hi Erica,
      Great question, I meant to mention that in the post. I just split the difference and set the oven at 400˚. It worked perfectly!

  14. Yay! That makes me so happy! Did that affect the times for both the meals too???? I’m assuming that it will… I’ll keep a close eye.

    • Erica, nah, it’s only a 25˚ difference for each, and I figure many ovens vary by about that much in their temperature cycling. I used the times indicated in the recipes and it was fine.

  15. This looks amazing! I have been on such a lemon kick lately. I must try this ASAP.

  16. Looks great! another awesome chicken recipe, definently going to try this out!! thanks so much for all your post, i have enjoyed them so much since I found your blog a couple weeks ago!

  17. Hi Annie. This chicken looks great! Quick question…is the posted recipe the original or does it already reflect the decreased amount of herbs? Thanks!

    • Hi Kim,
      I always post recipes as I made them, so in this case, I indicated the reduced amount of herbs. You can click the link at the bottom to compare to the original to see what changes (if any) I make.

  18. I just uncovered your blog and so look forward to sitting down at
    the end of the day and “filling” up with the recipes. I have been cooking
    for MANY years and never tire of the symphony of the scents and tastes
    of a well orchestrated meal. You are a marvelous conductor!! Thank you.

  19. Already made this for dinner last night, Annie. It was superb! And I served it with a side of broccoli and garlic rice (though I just cooked my brown rice in the rice cooker and threw in some garlic salt!) Thanks for having a thought process and a food craving that lines right up with mine! You never fail to give me inspiration when I need it!

  20. Annie –

    This looks like another great recipe! Fresh lemons are a must-have in our house. Can you use boneless chicken breasts?

    • Hey Neen,
      I wouldn’t recommend boneless skinless breasts for this recipe because the use of the thighs/drumsticks, and the skin provides a lot of flavor. I have a different lemon marinade that I use for chicken kabobs and that would definitely work for the boneless skinless chicken breasts. I’ll share that soon.

  21. I’ve been on a lemon kick lately, but it doesn’t have anything to do with the season! I like the look of this chicken!

  22. Oh Annie, those look perfect! I am going to have to take this recipe to the grill!

  23. I absolutely LOVE your blog! I don’t know if I haven’t seen it or missed the post, but I would love the recipe to your baked garlic rice pilar. If at all possible can you tell me where I can find it? Thanks for all the wonderful work you put into this blog. I am always telling my friends about your recipes and to read for themselves.

  24. Made this last night but didn’t have fresh lemons so I used juice in a jar (gasp I know!) and substituted orange zest. It was delish!! My kiddos and hubster loved it too. Thanks!

  25. I love lemon flavoured things. *bookmarked*

  26. This is really a wonderful recipe. Highly recommendable!

  27. I have the same recipe posted on my blog right now. It’s a wonderful way to make chicken. Lemon and chicken are a great combination.

  28. This was one of the best roasted chicken recipes that I’ve tried. I just loved the tart, lemony flavor! Thanks so much for sharing and for your wonderful photography – that picture drew me right in!

  29. Peggy, you can subscribe by clicking “RSS Entries” at the top right of the page. I do not do manual subscriptions myself.

  30. Could you also use bone-in skin on chicken breasts for this recipe?

  31. Oh ok. I ask because only thighs and legs are mentioned in the recipe and didn’t know if breasts wouldn’t cook through in 50-55 minutes.

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