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Lemon Garlic Chicken is so easy to throw together but it looks like you put a bit of time and effort into it and tastes so delicious. It’s one of my go-to company dishes.

chicken thighs in cast iron pan with lemon and onion blue towel around handle of pan

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What’s makes a chicken recipe “company chicken”?

We didn’t make chicken every time we had company but I remember reading books where they had “Company Chicken.” I was always curious what company chicken was exactly. A quick search shows that most times “Company Chicken” has some type of cream sauce poured over it. I’m totally skipping that and want to be clear that my chicken recipe isn’t intended to be that classic or even a twist on it.  I’d say it’s that go-to chicken recipe you make because you know it’ll turn out amazing every single time you make it and you don’t even have to think about it.

What kind of chicken should I use?

You can adapt this recipe to any cut of chicken you’d like but you’ll need to adjust baking times accordingly. The recipe below works for boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast.

I prefer chicken thighs because they have more flavor and don’t dry out as easily but baking it with a cover helps limit how dry chicken breast will get.

Can I use bottled lemon juice?

I want to simply say “no.” No. You absolutely cannot. Truthfully, you can if you want to but fresh lemons are so crucial to this dish because the flavor of freshly-squeezed lemon juice is significantly brighter and more savory than bottled lemon juice. Do yourself a favor and buy the lemons. You don’t need a lot.

Can I adapt this recipe to serve more or less people?

This is one of my favorite things about Lemon Garlic Chicken. You can totally adapt the recipe super easily. I include some tips for that in the recipe.

Do I have to brown the chicken?

Nope. You certainly don’t. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I don’t. Browning the chicken in butter adds flavor and starts the cooking process before you ever put it in the oven. Browning the chicken also helps seal in all those juices that keep your chicken from drying out. I recommend browning the chicken in an oven-safe pan. My Lodge cast iron dutch ovens or 12-inch frying pan wins this task every time.

Can I use oil in place of butter to brown the chicken?

Yes. You can use oil in place of butter. I recommend olive oil but you could also use vegetable oil. I would stay away from the distinct flavor of coconut oil here if possible.

Additional Tips

  • If you want to stretch the meat a little more, cut chicken into 1-2 inch pieces and cut back on the amount you make. I find I can get away with cutting about 1/4 pound of meat per 4 people this way.
  • Another way to bulk up the dish and add flavor is to add mushrooms.
  • This recipe is easy to make ahead and reheat. Just reheat it covered if you do this. This is one of the reasons it makes a great meal to take a family.



Lemon Garlic Chicken

Lemon Garlic Chicken is so easy to throw together but it looks like you put a bit of time and effort into it and tastes so delicious. It’s one of my go-to company dishes.

  • Author: Heather L McCurdy
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs or chicken breast
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 medium to large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or 1 Tbsp.)
  • Juice from 1 lemon + optional 1/2 lemon sliced for garnishing
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced thin (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Heat large oven-safe skillet on stove top over medium high heat.
  3. Add butter and melt.
  4. Salt and pepper chicken and arrange in frying pan with a little space in-between each piece. Brown on each side. This will only take a couple minutes each side. You may have to brown the chicken in batches depending on the size of your pan. I set the browned chicken on another plate then put them back in the same pan afterward.
  5. While chicken is browning, slice the onion and mushrooms (if using) and mince the garlic.
  6. Add onion, minced garlic, and sliced mushrooms (optional) to the pan, tucking some under the edges of the chicken.
  7. Squeeze juice from one lemon over the chicken.
  8. Arrange thin slices of lemon over the chicken if you desire.
  9. Cover pan and bake for 35-45 minutes. I check the chicken at 35 minutes with a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Chicken should be cooked to 165°F or higher.


*If using chicken breast: cut each chicken breast in half width wise before browning or baking. 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breasts, will feed 4 people.

*If using boneless, skinless chicken thighs: you do not need to cut chicken thighs. However, if browning, lay them out flat before browning both sides. You can fold them up a bit before baking. Again, you will need 1 lb. of meat per 4 people. However, I usually figure 2 thighs per older child or adult and 1 per small child.

*Use juice from 1 lemon for 1-2 pounds; 1 and 1/2 lemons for 3-5 pounds. Thinly slice 1/2 lemon to top chicken before baking.

*Cutting the meat into smaller pieces is a great way to stretch your meat a bit. You can cut back on the amount per person when you do this as people tend to eat a bit less when it’s cut smaller. You will want to check the chicken after 20 minutes to break it up in case it is cooking into a solid chunk.

chicken thighs in cast iron pan with lemon and onion, lemon on table and blue towel around pan handle

Want more chicken? Check out 30+ Chicken Recipes!

This post was originally published January 6, 2013 with this original image. (SCARY!! Haha)

lemon garlic chicken

lemon garlic chicken

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