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Lemon Butter Chicken

My Lemon chicken is perfect for busy weeknights when I don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen but crave something flavorful. It’s become a go-to recipe all year round in my house!

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Pulled back view of cooked lemon chicken on a serving tray with lemon and parsley garnishes. Served with a small bowl of lemon butter on the side.

I love this Recipe for Lemon Chicken!

I created this simple lemon chicken recipe on one of those nights when I couldn’t decide what to make. Both my kids love citrus, and I can get my husband to eat anything as long as there’s butter involved.

I tried to make it as simple as possible without lacking on the flavor so I can make it when I’m too lazy to make something more involved.

Chicken has always been a go-to in my house because of its versatility and it’s the main protein I can make that my kids always love.

And, if you love a good chicken recipe, try my chicken cordon bleu, air fryer chicken thighs, chicken spaghetti, and air fryer chicken tenders recipes.

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Close up of cooked lemon chicken on a serving tray with lemon and parsley garnishes

What is Lemon Chicken?

Not all lemon chicken recipes are the same, but most involve marinating or cooking chicken with lemon juice, zest, and slices. Different versions range from Asian-style fried chicken with a sweet lemon sauce to Mediterranean roasted chicken made with lemons, herbs, and white wine.

My recipe features baked chicken breasts with a simple lemon butter sauce!

Flatlay of raw chicken surrounded by lemons, salt, pepper, butter, and garlic

Lemon Chicken Ingredients

  • Chicken Breasts – boneless, skinless
  • Butter – unsalted
  • Garlic
  • Lemon – juiced and extra for slices
  • Salt — sea salt and/or kosher salt
  • Pepper

How to Make Lemon Chicken

A full printable version of this recipe with ingredient measurements is available at the bottom of this post.

STEP ONE: Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. Add 4 cups of room-temperature water to a large bowl with salt to create your brine. Add the chicken and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the chicken to remove any excess salt.

STEP TWO: Place the chicken in a 9×13-inch baking dish and add the lemon juice on top. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush each side of the chicken breasts. Season with salt and pepper.

STEP THREE: Add the minced garlic to the pan. Cut the rest of the butter into cubes and place it around the chicken and garlic.

Raw chicken arranged in a baking dish surrounded by lemon wedges, salt, pepper, garlic, garlic press, and a basting brush

STEP FOUR: Bake the chicken for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. For golden brown results, you can also turn your broiler on High for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking time.

STEP FIVE: Remove the lemon butter from the pan, serve it on the side, or turn it into a sauce. Enjoy!

Cooked lemon chicken in a baking dish

Easy Lemon Chicken Recipe Tips

  • Take the chicken out of the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so it’s as close to room temperature as possible. It will help the meat cook more evenly!
  • Before adding the chicken to the brine, make sure that most of the salt has dissolved in the water. If there is any undissolved salt at the bottom, the chicken won’t brine properly.
  • Add some lemon zest for even more citrus flavor. After you add the minced garlic to the pan, use a zester and scrape off the outer layer of the lemon peel directly alongside it. I do this when I have fresh lemon and it’s amazing!
  • Don’t overbake! Keep a close eye on your lemon butter chicken and check the internal temperature after about 15 minutes in the oven just to be sure. I find the most tender chicken is cooked to just 165 degrees F.
Sliced lemon chicken on a platter with lemon butter on the side.

What to Serve with this Lemon Chicken Recipe

On a typical weeknight, I love to pair this recipe with air fryer asparagus, green beans with bacon, or garlic cheese bread.

If I’m making this in the summer, my go-tos are air fryer corn on the cob, watermelon feta salad, and a caprese salad.

How to Store Lemon Butter Chicken

Let the chicken cool completely before transferring it to an airtight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

To reheat single servings, a minute or two in the microwave works well. For larger potions, heat in the oven at 350 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes or until warmed through.

Whole cooked chicken breasts with lemon and parsley garnishes. Lemon butter served in a small bowl on the side.

Lemon Butter Chicken Recipe FAQs

Does lemon juice tenderize chicken?

Yes, lemon juice tenderizes the chicken, but it’s important not to let it sit for too long. I find if I leave it to marinate for more than a couple of hours, the chicken gets mushy.

I love the flavor of lemon and chicken, so I use a brine instead of a marinade to tenderize it before baking. Thanks to the juice, it still has the big lemon flavor!

What happens if you marinate chicken in lemon juice too long?

If you marinate chicken for too long, the muscle fibers will break down too much, causing it to go mushy. For best results, don’t leave chicken in lemon juice for longer than 2 hours.

How long can raw chicken sit in lemon juice?

Raw chicken shouldn’t sit in lemon juice for more than 2 hours. While the acidity will tenderize it initially, it will become tough and mushy over time! This isn’t to say that you can’t marinate chicken in lemon juice — you can, but no more than 2 hours.

More Easy Dinner Recipes

Whole cooked chicken breasts with lemon and parsley garnishes. Lemon butter served in a small bowl on the side.

Lemon Butter Chicken Recipe

Samantha Erb
My lemon chicken features tender chicken breasts, zesty lemon, and punchy garlic, all in a rich butter-based sauce. Full of flavor yet so easy to make, it’s ideal for weeknight dinner!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner Recipes, Main Course, Meat
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 225 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 lemon sliced, for garnish

Brine:

  • ¼ cup sea salt or kosher salt
  • 4 cups water room temperature

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl combine the 4 cups of room temperature water and salt. Stir, until the majority of the salt is dissolved. Add the chicken and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  • Drain the water. Rinse the chicken to remove the excess salt.
  • Place the chicken breast in a 9×13 pan. Add the lemon juice over the chicken and into the pan.
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and brush each side of the chicken breasts. Season each side of the chicken breasts with salt and pepper.
  • Mince the garlic cloves and add around the chicken breasts. Cut the remaining butter into cubes and place around the chicken breasts.
  • Bake the chicken at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Depending on the size of the chicken breast, check the chicken at the 15 minute mark.
    Use a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the largest chicken breast and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
  • If desired, broil the chicken breasts on high for the last 2-3 minutes to golden the tops of the chicken breasts.
  • Serve with the lemon butter on the side.

Notes

  • Brining the chicken breasts helps seal the moisture of the chicken breasts in and add additional flavor. 
  • Fresh garlic and fresh lemon make this dish. One fresh lemon produces 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. One garlic clove is about ½ a teaspoon minced.

Nutrition

Calories: 225kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 25gFat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 95mgSodium: 7800mgPotassium: 512mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 310IUVitamin C: 31mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg

This nutrition information is based on the exact products I used in this recipe. Brands and sizes of products could alter exact nutrition and should always be calculated independently.

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samantha

About Samantha

I’ve always had a love of cooking and creating new recipes, so it only made sense to create a food blog so I could share those recipes with you. This site is designed to provide easy and flavorful recipes with as little ingredients as possible. That means you still get great flavor combinations without all that extra time and effort. Read more...

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