Lemon-y, garlic-y, zesty and wine-y, this lemon garlic chicken is scrumptious and packs a lot of flavor. The ingredients work really well together and offer a bright, well-balanced taste. This is another fabulous recipe by Ina Garten that, with a few adjustments, goes into my collection of best chicken recipes.
Bone-in vs. boneless skin-on lemon garlic chicken
Unlike Ina Garten, I like using bone-in, instead of boneless, skin-on chicken breasts in this recipe. I find that bones protect the meat from drying out just as much as the skin does. Skin-on chicken breasts are normally sold as split breasts, with rib bones attached. So, leave them on. I know, it’s easier to eat a boneless breast but I’ll a pick juicer meat over convenience any time.
Seasoning the chicken with salt and pepper
My tendency to be precise and sometimes even scientific while cooking went sharply against the ‘sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper’ recommendation in the original recipe. What does that even mean? Won’t you end up with over-salted, over-peppered flesh? I think that 1/4 a teaspoon of kosher salt and 2-3 turns of black pepper per breast is right where it needs to be. This is for regular size chicken breasts, about 4-6 ounces each. For larger breasts, 6+ ounces, you should increase the amount of salt by about 1 1/2 to 2 times. These are guidelines and you should adjust them up or down to suit your taste.
Recipe adapted with changes from Ina Garten’s Lemon Chicken Breasts recipe.
Baked Lemon Garlic Chicken Recipe
- 4 chicken breasts (skin-on, bone-in)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (good quality)
- 3 Tbsp minced garlic (about 9 cloves)
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
- 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about ½ a lemon)
- 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves (optional, see note below)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (1 tsp for the marinade plus 1/4 tsp per chicken breast. Add more if needed.)
- Freshly ground black pepper (2-3 turns per breast)
- 1 lemon (see my note below in step 4)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
The original Ina Garten's recipe suggests baking at 400F. I find that at this temperature the meat comes out less juicy and tender than at 375F - my personal favorite sweet spot baking temperature for bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. Baking at 400F takes less time though, about 30 minutes.
- Warm the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute without allowing the garlic to turn brown. I suggest you test with a few grains of garlic first before adding the rest. You don’t want the oil to be too hot so that it browns the garlic. If too hot, remove from heat let cool down.
- Remove the saucepan off the heat, add the white wine, lemon zest, lemon juice, oregano, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt. Pour into a baking dish or a baking pan.
Note: I often find myself having all the needed ingredients except the fresh thyme leaves, so I would leave them out. I find that this recipe works great with or without thyme.
- Pat the chicken breasts dry and place them skin side up over the sauce. Brush the chicken breasts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut the lemon into 8 wedges and place between chicken breasts.
Note: there is no need to use a new lemon for the wedges. You will have 1 1/2 lemons left from zesting and juicing, use them instead. Unless you are trying to impress guests, those will work just fine.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, until the internal temperature reaches 160F. By this time the skin should be slightly browned. If you want crispier skin and more browning, put the baking dish under the broiler for 2 minutes a few minutes before the chicken breasts are done.
- Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot with the pan juices.
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Best Bone-in Chicken Breast Recipes
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