This easy one pan lemon garlic chicken recipe is ready in no time! A quick, weeknight chicken dinner that tastes great over rice or pasta.
This easy lemon garlic chicken is one of my favorite fall recipes.
It’s ready to go in under an hour, uses just one pot, includes spinach because #vegetables, and makes a simple, lemon-y, garlicky broth that’s perfect for pouring over rice, pasta, or sopping up with a few slices of your favorite bread.
Also, this lemon chicken recipe makes great leftovers (perfect for meal prep!)
Ingredients you’ll need
- Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – We’re using chicken thighs here because they pack a ton of flavor, stay a bit more tender than other cuts, and are easy to fit in the pan. Boneless skinless chicken breasts work just as well here though!
- Diced yellow onion and plenty of minced garlic – We’ll sauté these aromatics together to create the base of our sauce.
- Fresh thyme gives some extra depth to this recipe. Dried thyme works, too!
- Lemon is the star of the show here: Fresh lemon juice adds brightness and flavor to our sauce. Use more or less lemon juice depending on your preference!
- Chicken stock (or chicken broth) gives our sauce some volume and extra flavor.
- Fresh spinach lends a pop of color and plenty of nutrients.
- You’ll also need a few basics: olive oil, salt, and pepper help us bring this dish together.
Order of operations
First, sear the chicken
Adding a quick sear to our chicken thighs locks in a bit of moisture and gives us some super flavorful drippings to use as the base for our sauce.
Season your chicken thighs on all sides with plenty of salt, then sear the chicken with a bit of oil in a deep, large skillet until the meat is lightly browned on all sides. Set the chicken aside, then use the same pan to make the sauce.
Build your sauce + bake
- Sauté onion and garlic with a bit of oil until soft.
- Add salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, then squeeze in the juice of one lemon.
- Stir chicken stock and spinach into the sauce.
- Return the chicken thighs to your saucepan, then bake in a hot oven until cooked through.
Riffs and substitutions
These lemon garlic chicken thighs are ultra forgiving and easy to customize! A few of our favorite swaps and additions:
- For a creamy sauce, stir in a splash of heavy cream or Magic Cauliflower Cream.
- Use white wine in place of ½ cup of the chicken stock for extra flavor!
- For more lemon flavor, add the lemon zest from your lemon in addition to the juice (or add another lemon entirely!) You can also top the chicken thighs with lemon slices just before baking for a beautiful presentation and extra flavor.
- Add diced potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, kale, or carrots to make it a little heartier.
- Use whatever cut of chicken you have on hand – this recipe is equally delicious with boneless, skinless chicken breast (just make sure to add a few minutes to the cook time if you’re using a larger cut- a good meat thermometer can help you with this).
What to serve with lemon garlic chicken
We love serving this chicken with pasta (we love ravioli or tortellini!), rice, quinoa, farro, or a pile of zucchini noodles. It’s also great with:
- Easy Crusty Bread
- Quick Mashed Potatoes
- 5 Minute Arugula Salad (you can also use spinach in this salad!)
VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE LEMON GARLIC CHICKEN
An easy baked lemon chicken recipe for busy weeknights!
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 lemon
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 heaping cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
SEAR THE CHICKEN (10 MIN)
- Heat oven to 400° Fahrenheit.
- Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe pan (I like to use a wide, deep skillet) over medium heat.
- Place chicken thighs in the hot pan and sear for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.
- Remove chicken to a plate and set aside, then return pan to stove over medium-high heat.
MAKE THE SAUCE (5-10 MIN)
- Add onion and garlic to pan. Sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. If the pan is looking a little dry, add another drizzle of olive oil to help the onion cook.
- Pull leaves off of thyme sprigs. Add thyme leaves to the onions.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Juice the lemon, removing any seeds, and add lemon juice to the onion mixture. Stir to combine.
- Add chicken stock and spinach to onions and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a simmer.
- When mixture has reached a simmer, return seared chicken thighs to pan and spoon some of the broth over the top of them to help them stay moist.
BAKE (15-20 MIN)
- Place pan in 400° F oven, uncovered, and cook 15-20 minutes more until chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately.
Substitutions. Use bone-in, skinless chicken thighs or boneless, skinless chicken breasts if you prefer. With larger or bone-in cuts, you may need to extend the baking time to ensure chicken is cooked through (when we tested this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts, we increased the cook time by 8 minutes or so). Use ½ cup of white wine in place of ½ cup of the chicken stock if you like. Add kale, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, or any vegetables you have on hand in place of or in addition to the spinach. We recommend adding broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots just as you put the chicken in the oven to avoid overcooking.
How to serve this lemon garlic chicken: Serve this lemon chicken over rice, quinoa, farro, pasta (we love ravioli and tortellini!) or mashed potatoes. It’s also delicious as a stand-alone entree with some roasted vegetables on the side.
For added texture, wait to add the spinach until you’re ready to serve. Stir it into the hot broth and let it wilt just slightly. (We add the spinach before baking in this recipe for ease, so you can go right from the oven to the table – but if you have the time and prefer your spinach to have more texture, add it right at the end!) This recipe has a very light, broth-y sauce.
If you prefer to thicken the sauce, stir in a cornstarch slurry, a splash of heavy cream, or a few spoonfuls of our Magic Cauliflower Cream just before serving. (You may also want to check out our creamy one pan chicken and potatoes recipe, which features a thicker, creamy sauce!)
To make this recipe in a slow cooker, sauté the onions and garlic in a small skillet. Add sautéed onion mixture to your slow cooker along with the remaining ingredients and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Stir chopped spinach in when you’re ready to serve. (While you can certainly skip the sauté step if you like, we strongly recommend sautéing the onions and garlic even if you’re using a slow cooker because the texture is so much better!)
Save leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, warm in a skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat until heated through. Taste and add extra chicken stock, lemon juice, and seasonings as necessary before serving.
Keywords: dinner, baked