Main Dish | June 9, 2018

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner is a dish that can be enjoyed year round. It’s light enough for summer months, and hearty enough for cold winter days. We love this one dish meal that can be made in minutes!

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

I’m always looking for ways to make dinner in less than 30 minutes.  This recipe combines chicken in a light, fresh lemon cream sauce in one delicious main dish. Perfect for weeknight, Sunday dinners or even when hosting company. Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner is the solution to creating a meal everyone will love in minutes.
Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

Cooking Your Chicken to Perfection

One of the most difficult tasks faced when cooking chicken (in my opinion) is how to cook chicken, without overcooking. After many, many tries, I use this simple method to insure my chicken is not overcooked when making this dish. It requires a watchful eye and just a few minutes. I’ve listed instructions in the recipe and notes attached to the recipe, but basically the method includes cooking on both sides over high heat for one minute,  then removing chicken from the pan and setting aside. The lemon cream sauce is made and the chicken is added back to the pan to finish cooking and then sits covered for 5 minutes. That’s it! Really simple. Really easy.

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

The key to not overcooking is to finish cooking the chicken just before serving. When I was developing this recipe, several times- (too many to count) I left the chicken in the sauce on medium or  low, while I hurried and finished cooking a side dish or made a salad. The sauce heated up and came to a boil again and which resulted in overcooked chicken. Removing the chicken from the pan after cooking for one minute on each side and then adding back to the pan when the sauce is finished is the best way to insure the chicken is perfectly cooked.   If you like to use the thermometer method, chicken breasts are cooked when they reach a temperature of 160 using an instant read thermometer. The temperature will continue to rise for a few minutes after it reaches 160, so I like to turn off the heat and remove from heat a bit before it reaches 160.

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner
This citrus juicer is one of the most often used tools in my kitchen! Click on the photo for link to this handy tool.

Serve it Up

This dish is best with a green salad or green veggies. We love it with white or brown rice, or pasta tossed with a  little olive oil or with some of the sauce drizzled over the top. Orzo, a rice shaped pasta is also a fun side to serve with this dish. I love this Orzo salad, but Orzo pasta can also be served alone as a side. It can be cooked ahead and mixed with a tablespoon of olive oil and then placed in a ziplock bag (squeeze out all air)  in the refrigerator until ready to eat for make-ahead convenience. When ready to eat,  break up the clumps of pasta a bit with your fingers while in the bag, place the bag of pasta in a bowl of hot water in the sink while making Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner. Instant Pot mashed potatoes are also a perfect side dish to this meal. I highly suggest preparing your side dishes before cooking the chicken. Hope you love this quick and easy dinner!

Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

4.85 from 13 votes
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Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

Course Dinner
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 7 minutes
Total Time 17 minutes
Servings 6
Author Si Foster, A Bountiful Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 chicken breasts cut in half and pounded until about 3/4 inch thick, or sliced in half lengthwise
  • salt and pepper other seasonings as desired
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour or cornstarch*
  • juice of 2 lemons about 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon,  free of seeds
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 teaspoon dry tarragon or 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley sliced lemon for garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta or rice to serve with chicken, set aside.
  2. Heat 2-3 inch deep frying pan  or dutch oven over medium high heat* and add olive oil to pan. Generously salt and pepper chicken on both sides.
  3. Carefully place chicken in pan with olive oil. Cook for one minute on each side. The chicken should start to turn golden in color. Remove to a plate or platter. Set aside.
  4. Turn heat to medium. Do not clean out pan. Add 2 tablespoon butter to pan.
  5. Add 2 tablespoons flour. Cook and whisk just until flour and butter are incorporated, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.  The mixture will most likely be a little lumpy. Add fresh lemon juice to pan.
  6. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth, whisking while adding broth. Add 1 cup of half and half .  Add tarragon, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat until smooth and bubbly. Add chicken back to pan with sauce and cook for  5 minutes over medium heat. The sauce should gently boil while cooking chicken. If it is not a gentle boil, increase heat a bit. Cover pan with lid and remove from heat after cooking  and let sit, covered for 5 minutes.
  8. Just before serving, garnish with lemon slices and fresh chopped parsley.  Serve with rice or pasta while hot.

Recipe Notes

  • Since stoves vary in temperature, medium high heat on my stovetop may be too high on your stovetop. To insure the chicken doesn't get burned, start out with one chicken breast over medium heat and see how it cooks. If after the one minute time limit it is not golden, remove the chicken breast and turn the heat to medium high and let heat for another minute or two. Then place the remaining chicken in the pan and proceed as directed. 
  • If you have a gluten allergy, cornstarch may be substituted in place of four. Add the cornstarch to the broth and whisk before adding to the pan. 
  • I usually cut the chicken lengthwise,  instead of pounding,  for less mess. 
  • The thickness of the chicken will vary.  I tested this recipe using chicken that had been cut to about 3/4 inch thickness, or pounded to 3/4 inch thick. 
  • Other herbs and spices may be added as desired. A clove of garlic may be minced and added when the lemon is added to the pan. 
  • If you like a heavier cream sauce, use cream in place of the half and half. More broth may be added to thin the sauce in the end if needed. 
  • To make sure chicken is cooked, remove one breast after following recipe instructions, and cut into thickest part of chicken. The chicken is cooked when the middle no longer has a fleshy appearance. An instant read thermometer may also be inserted into chicken while in the pan and should read 160. 

 

34 thoughts on “Easy Lemon Chicken Dinner

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  1. You’re the best, Si! Thank you. This looks delicious!
    By the way, I printed some of your Instant Pot books for myself and daughters. Thank you for that as well!

  2. I would like to add this to my Pinterest board but I don’t see a link to that. Can you add one? Thanks!

    1. Beverly, there should be links to Pinterest on all of the images. There is also a link at the top of the page on the right hand side. Let me know if you still have issues. Thanks for reading ABK!

      xo,
      Si

  3. The directions read “add tarragon” but the ingredient list reads “thyme”. I want to make sure I add the right herbs.

    It sounds amazing and we are going to try for Sunday dinner.

    1. Andrea, thanks for pointing that out. It should be tarragon, not thyme. I’ll fix that on the recipe. This dish would be perfect for Sunday dinner. I know you and your family will love it!

      xo
      Si

  4. 5 stars
    Just made this last week for some missionaries and everyone (including my two little kids) gobbled it up!! Missionaries had second helpings which is always a good sign haha. And I loved how fast it was – it really did take like 15 minutes!

  5. I made this Monday night and have been having the leftovers for lunch the past couple of days which are just as good as the first night when it was fresh! I thrive on meals I can make at the beginning of the week and use the leftovers to get me through some of the following days. I also love that I can serve this over brown rice to make it that much healthier. My husband and I are not fans of tarragon so we left that out but still thought it had great flavor.

    I’m excited to add this meal to the mix! Thanks for the recipe, Si!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Riley! I’m always looking for ways to make quick and easy dinners, especially ones that still taste amazing as leftovers. This is definitely one of those and perfect to make ahead as well. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and thanks for reading ABK.

      xo,
      Si

  6. 5 stars
    Easily the best AND easiest lemon chicken dish I’ve ever made, and I’ve tried my fair share! I used heavy whipping cream instead of half and half because #delicious haha This will definitely be on a regular rotation in our house!

    1. I like the way you think Tina! #delicious haha. thanks for your comments and for tying this recipe!
      xo
      Si

  7. 4 stars
    I made this the other day and it was yummy. We are on a restricted diet at our house, so I substituted almond flour for the flour and coconut milk for the half and half. I obviously haven’t tasted it the way it is here, but with the substitutions, it was still a hit at our house. Served it with quinoa. Thanks Si!

    1. Thanks for your comments Molly! Another reader asked about subbing a non dairy for the half and half and Im glad to see it worked for you. Thanks for reading ABK and for being such a long time, loyal supporter here!
      xo
      Si

  8. 4 stars
    I just made this a couple of nights ago and it was yummy. We’re on a restricted diet at our house, so I substituted almond flour for the flour and coconut milk for the half and half and everyone approved. I served it with quinoa. I loved how quick it was, too. Thanks Si!

  9. Oh shoot. I over cooked the chicken😩
    The flavor of the sauce is terrific though! I will try this again and try not to over cook!

    1. It happens to the best of us, Lisa! I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe. The combo of flavors is hard to beat. Thanks for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  10. Okay so I tried this recipe tonight and when I poured in my half and half, it curdled…so the dish was ruined 🙁

    Where did I go wrong?

    1. I’m sorry to hear that, Maryn. I’m guessing the sauce may have been cooked with too much heat. Also, if you’re using skim milk, it will curdle easier. Hope this helps and thanks for asking!
      xo
      Si

  11. 5 stars
    Hi Si! Love your recipes and the way to help us all make fun family dinners that are high quality! I’m a dad that loves to Cook for my family so I appreciate you big time. This was a bit runny and thin tonight, any idea where I messed up? I used an actual Dutch ovem and perhaps the steaminess of the lid on thinned it out?

    1. Hi Jon, you’re very welcome! The dutch oven may be why it’s a little thinner, you could try cooking it for longer so that the sauce may thicken more. Hope this helps and thanks for asking,
      Si

  12. 5 stars
    This was a huge hit for my family! My husband usually hates lemon, but was raving about how good it was and asked me to add it to our meal plan for the next week!
    Super quick, easy, and I always have the ingredients on hand for a meal that even my picky toddler loves!!
    Side note: I add Brussels sprouts as a side and they go so well with the sauce!

  13. 5 stars
    This recipe is a gem. It is easy to make, goes well with many sides and the chicken freezes well. I am single so I toss the leftover chicken on salads throughout the week. I like pairing it with Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice and Costco’s frozen organic broccoli. P.S. I use cornstarch and substitute canned coconut milk for the half and half.

  14. 5 stars
    So yummy and so easy! I dread cooking sometimes when my kids are around, but this came together so fast and everyone loved it. I think a little garlic (like she mentioned) would be really good with it. I’m planning on adding it next time.

    1. I love cooking this meal on busy nights, and that it’s something kids will really enjoy too. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK Robyn!
      xo
      Si

  15. This recipe was even tastier and easier to make than I anticipated…and I thought it would be pretty good! The combo of the butter and half and half and tarragon was SO delicious. I wanted to drink the sauce! My whole family loved it. Thanks, Si!

  16. 5 stars
    Made this dish for dinner and the whole family loved it! Paired it with fresh corn on the cob and even my 2 and 4 year old gobbled it all up! Definitely going to be a go to recipe for us. Thank you!

    1. This is definitely one of my go to recipes too, Anne. And it’s perfect for this time of year! Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK,
      xo
      Si

  17. 5 stars
    I’m a fan of this recipe! The tanginess from the lemon and the great flavor from the tarragon make a tasty flavor combination. I didn’t have any half and half on hand so I had to substitute it with whole milk and it still turned out great.

    1. Me too, Krystel, I love the flavor of the tarragon especially in this recipe, it really makes a difference. Thanks for sharing and for reading ABK!
      xo
      Si

  18. 5 stars
    Soooo good! My kids loved it. I doubled the recipe, and added a little lemon zest from half a lemon. Can’t wait for leftovers at work tomorrow. 🙂