An easy baked lemon chicken recipe for busy weeknights!
- 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 lemon
- 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
SEAR THE CHICKEN (10 MIN)
- Heat oven to 400 degrees 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 degree 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). We recommend investing in a good meat thermometer to help with this! Use 1/2 cup of white wine in place of 1/2 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 or add 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!) We love our Crock Pot Slow Cooker or Instant Pot (use the sauté setting and then the slow cooker setting – this hasn’t been tested with the pressure cooker setting yet) here!
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