Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil

Chicken Lemon Garlic Basil

This chicken with lemon, garlic and basil – the flavors of an Italian summer – cooks in one pan and gets a delicious crispy skin. 

Even though we are now fully immersed in September, in our neck of the woods yesterday was actually the hottest day of the year so far. The thermometer that we keep by the chicken coop was up to 99ºF (37ºC) by noon, and stayed there until way past dark. Not to sound like a whiner, but that meant that our kitchen was hotter than a three dollar pistol and it was seriously messing with my plans. See, I had been dreaming about making this chicken all summer, and I had already bought all the ingredients that I couldn’t pick from the garden so I just decided to make it anyway, inferno be damned.

This chicken is kind of a variation on one of my favorite dishes of all time, Chicken with Lime, Garlic and Cilantro. It has the same incredible combination of crispy skin and tender meat that is just so damn good. But instead of the latin influence, this version is like a summer vacation in Italy, with the flavors of lemon, garlic and fresh basil.

Chicken Lemon Garlic Basil

Quick aside: A long time ago I had spent an afternoon on the Italian island of Capri all by myself, and all these years later I still remember it as one of the best days of my life. Capri is one of those magical places that is so beautiful, you can’t believe it’s real. But it is! I have pictures to prove it (this was before I knew anything about photography.  I thought I was so damn fancy taking pictures with my little Canon point-and-shoot).

So as I was cooking, I tried to imagine that instead of my stiflingly hot New York kitchen, I was really in a lovely little villa overlooking the emerald Mediterranean Sea. That blast of heat on my face? That’s a breeze heated by the volcanic limestone cliffs, not the fishy-smelling breath of two cranky cats, yowling that at least the shelter had the decency to have central air conditioning.

Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil
This sauce, though. Seriously. So good.

Luckily in the end it was all worth it because this chicken is crazy good. The combination of lemon and garlic is always fantastic but the fresh basil adds a bright, almost peppery bite. I’m obsessed with this sauce and am going to try it next time with shrimp (before our basil plants finally give up the ghost for the season).

Nerd Tips:
  • Julia Child was wrong, don’t wash your chicken! Just use a clean cutting board, dry it well on paper towels, and cook it to the proper temperature (165º F / 74º C).
  • A cast iron skillet is perfect for this recipe because it browns beautifully and goes in the oven. Just make sure it’s very well seasoned. 
  • You could substitute drumsticks or breasts for the thighs. If using boneless/skinless, be extra careful not to overcook or it can get dry.
  • For a gluten free version, you could leave out the flour or substitute corn starch.
  • If basil is not in season, the sauce would still be delicious without it. Add a little sprinkle of red chili flakes at the end.

Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil

I like to serve this with simple boiled baby potatoes or hunks of crusty bread for dipping. In summer, a side of sliced heirloom tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with coarse sea salt is just perfect.

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3 from 1 vote

Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 4 -6 servings
Author: Emily Clifton - Nerds with Knives

Ingredients

  • 6-8 chicken thighs bone in, skin on (about 1 1/2 lb / 0.75 kg)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 small onion chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine 120 ml
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice from about 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest finely grated (from 1 lemon)
  • 2 cups chicken broth 475 ml
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves torn or coarsely chopped (about 1 large bunch) (more for garnish)
  • 1 lemon thinly sliced, for garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  • Trim any excess fat from the chicken and pat them dry. Generously season each thigh on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Pre-heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or dutch oven on medium-high for a minute and then add the oil. Add the thighs, skin-side down and cook until deeply browned (5-7 minutes). Don’t crowd the pan, work in batches if necessary. Turn and lightly brown other side (3-5 minutes). Remove thighs to a plate and set them aside.
  • Lower the heat to medium and if the chicken has released a lot of fat, remove most of it, leaving about a tablespoon and a half. Add onions and cook until just soft, 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for one minute more. Add flour and stir it into the onions, cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the wine and let it simmer for 3 minutes while scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Whisk in the broth, honey, lemon juice and zest and bring to a simmer. Taste sauce for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in half the basil and add back the chicken, skin-side up and place it, uncovered, into the oven. Cook for 25-35 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (165º F / 74º C on an instant read thermometer). Sprinkle over the rest of the basil, garnish with sliced lemons and serve.
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!

Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil

22 thoughts on “Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Basil”

  1. Oh my god, this must be what heaven tastes like…
    My boyfriend and I tried this yesterday, cause it sounded quite delcious, but boy we did not expect this…
    As my BF is one of them experimental types, when it comes to cooking, he tried to improvise during the process, but I made him follow the instructions word by word. (probably getting on his nerves a bit :-)) And it turned out totally awesome! The taste, the texture, the juicyness of the meat and don’t get me started on the crispy skin… Turns out, this has to be included in our all-time favorite list.
    We will now have to start working through a lot of your recepies, to check if they are all this great.
    Thanks a LOT and keep it up – we will be following 🙂

    Best from Germany
    Melanie

    Reply
    • Do you mean boneless, skinless? That would absolutely work, just brown them nicely and check them for temperature much sooner, maybe after 15 minutes, depending on how thick they are.

      Reply
  2. Made this tonight and it was gorgeous. Simple, sophisticated and delicious! I have made both this and the coriander/lime version and they were both great. Thanks so much for the recipes, keep it up 🙂

    Reply
  3. I used regular chicken thighs, bone in skin on. 5-7 minutes on the skin side down and they were completely black and burnt. I find that 2-3/3-4 minutes is much better. Great recipe though!

    Reply
    • How strange! What pan did you use? I use cast iron or a heavy-bottomed steel-clad skillet and it usually takes at least 7 minutes for chicken to get deep brown. I hope it wasn’t ruined.

      Reply
  4. Absolutely wonderful recipe! I cook all the time (I’m from New Orleans – we’re always cooking!) and am always on the lookout for new combos. My basil in the garden needed to be picked and thought I would love to try something different with lemon and basil and came upon your recipe. I followed it to a “T”, which I rarely do, and my husband and I both loved it! I’m a big cast iron lover and have a LeCreuset 12″ enameled braiser so I used this pan and cooked six large bone-in, skin-on thighs. I didn’t time the browning process, simply turned the chicken when it was ready, and continued to follow the directions for the sauce. When the dish was almost finished cooking in the oven, I turned on the broiler for about 5-7 minutes to make sure that wonderful skin was crispy. I did as suggested and added some fresh basil and lemon wedges (I squeezed a little of each wedge over the thighs) after it came out of the oven. This sauce, with the onions, garlic, lemon and basil is to die for! I did have homemade chicken broth and loved the addition of the wine. I served it with broad, flat noodles because of all that wonderful sauce, and a green salad. Perfect dinner!

    Reply
  5. Absolutely wonderful recipe! I cook all the time (I’m from New Orleans – we’re always cooking!) and am always on the lookout for new combos. My basil in the garden needed to be picked and thought I would love to try something different with lemon and basil and came upon your recipe. I followed it to a “T”, which I rarely do, and my husband and I both loved it! I’m a big cast iron lover and have a LeCreuset 12″ enameled braiser so I used this pan with six large bone-in, skin-on thighs. I didn’t time the browning process, simply turned the chicken when it was ready, and continued to follow the directions for the sauce. When the dish was almost finished cooking in the oven, I turned on the broiler for about 5-7 minutes to make sure that wonderful skin was crispy. I did as suggested and added some fresh basil and lemon wedges (I squeezed a little of each wedge over the thighs) after it came out of the oven. This sauce, with the onions, garlic, lemon and basil is to die for! I did have homemade chicken broth and loved the addition of the wine. I served it with broad, flat noodles because of all that wonderful sauce, and a green salad. Perfect dinner!

    Reply
  6. Omg! I am not the best cook. My dear husband does the cooking but I try to cook on Sunday. The smell was to die for and the taste.. omg the taste! I served with a mini Caprese salad and I couldn’t have been happier, nor him. Thank you for making me feel like a real cook! I’m now following your site.

    Reply
  7. Back again for another recipe, tried this one as the alternative to the cilantro line one and loved it! Fresh, simple flavours in one pan. I used chicken drumsticks with skin on since that’s what I had on hand so I didn’t follow the browning and cook times, but everything else worked out. Served it over rotated asparagus that I threw into the oven for the part 10 minutes, sprinkled with some dried basil, garlic powder and s&p. Was great sopping up the sauce with bread too.

    Reply
    • Hi Kelsey, yes, it will be thick until the chicken broth is added. If it’s too thick even after you stir in the broth, you can add more liquid (either broth or just water).

      Reply
  8. Wow, I don’t normally comment on these but this is such a delicious recipe. I’ve made it a few times now and most recently substituted rosemary for the basil and it was fantastic. We have served it over mashed potatoes and also pasta along with roasted veggies. This definitely a keeper!

    Reply
  9. I googled new recipes to use my fresh basil. This was absolutely delicious. I am passing on the recipes to sisters. It is a 5 star recipes. Thank You

    Reply

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