Lemon Basil Chicken

This lemon basil chicken is made with chicken breasts marinaded in lemon juice, fresh basil, honey and garlic for a juicy and flavourful meat. The perfect healthy dinner! Paleo and naturally gluten free.  

Lemon basil chicken breast with mashed potatoes on a white plate.

I have made this recipe countless times because it’s such an easy + healthy dinner option! It’s made with pantry staples and requires little “hands on” time.

We love to have it with mashed potatoes or cauliflower to soak up all that delicious sauce + a green salad or sautéed veggies on the side. It’s great with rice (cauli or normal) or pasta (zucchini or normal), too!

I’m not fortune teller, but I’m pretty sure your whole family will love it!

This lemon basil chicken is:

  • easy
  • lemony but not too much
  • tastes like summer (even when it’s not!)
  • tender
  • juicy

Let’s make it together!

Lemon basil chicken breast with a piece cut, over mashed potatoes

How to make lemon basil chicken – step by step

Start by cutting both chicken breasts in half lengthwise (steps 1 to 3)

This will allow the chicken to cook quicker and more evenly.

Prepare the marinade by mixing together fresh lemon juice, roughly chopped basil leaves, minced garlic and a little bit of water (step 4).

Photo collage of step by step instructions to make lemon basil chicken breasts

Place the cut chicken breasts in the bowl with the marinade and toss so that they are covered with marinade (step 5)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour, or at least 30 minutes if you’re in a hurry.

Three step by step photos to make lemon basil chicken

Tips to make lemon basil chicken: 

  • Can I use chicken thighs for this recipe? Yes, you can use skinless boneless or skin-on bone-in chicken thighs. Skip the cutting in half part and cook them a bit longer (the rest of the recipe is the same). Exact time will depend on the thickness of the thighs – they are ready when no longer pink inside.
  • How long do I have to marinate the chicken? Do I have to marinate it at all? If you are in a hurry, you can skip the marinating part. The longer you marinate the chicken, the more it will absorb the flavors so I recommend at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 hour. You can also prepare overnight if it’s more convient for you.
  • Be sure to boil the sauce as instructed – this is what makes it safe to eat after being in contact with raw chicken.

lemon basil chicken over mashed potatoes with a bunch of parsley and a towel in the background.

If you tried this lemon basil chicken, don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

Lemon basil chicken breast with mashed potatoes on a white plate.
5 from 6 votes
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Lemon Basil Chicken

This lemon basil chicken is made with chicken breasts marinaded in lemon juice, fresh basil, honey and garlic for a juicy and flavourful meat. The perfect healthy dinner! Paleo and naturally gluten free.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword #chickenrecipe, #easychickenrecipe, #lemonchicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 178 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts about 1.5 lbs / 680 grams total
  • 8 tbsp lemon juice from about 3 large lemons
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 12 fresh basil leaves roughly chopped
  • salt to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh parsley chopped, to serve – optional

Instructions

  1. Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise to make 4 pieces (try to make them equal sized for an even cooking). Set aside.

  2. Prepare the marinade. In a large glass bowl combine lemon juice, honey, water, garlic and basil. (You can also use a large ziplock bag: add all the ingredients, seal and shake to combine).

  3. Place chicken in the marinade bowl (or ziplock bag) and toss so that all the breasts are covered with marinade. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, refrigerate and marinate for one hour (or at least 30 minutes). 

  4. When chicken has marinated, heat olive oil in a non stick skillet, on high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, paying attention to remove all the garlic and basil leaves that may have sticked to the breasts (they would burn while cooking).

  5. When skillet is very hot, brown chicken breasts 2 minutes per side (4 minutes total). Pour the marinade in the skillet and mix well to get all the meat juices. Bring to a boil (this will happen very quickly) and cook for one minute. 

  6. Reduce to a rapid simmer (medium heat) and cook for 5 more minutes, basting the sauce over the chicken breasts regularly. Chicken is ready when no longer pink inside (don't over cook to make sure chicken isn't dry).

  7. To serve, place chicken on a plate, and spoon sauce on top. Scatter fresh basil or parsley, if using, and serve.

  8. Sides suggestion: mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower to soak up all the sauce, with a green salad on the side. 

Recipe Notes

  • Freezing instructions: place the uncooked chicken breasts with the marinade in a ziplock bag and freeze for a month. When ready to eat, place in the fridge overnight to thaw. Proceed as written.
  • Can I use chicken thighs for this recipe? Yes, you can use skinless boneless or skin-on bone-in chicken thighs. Skip the cutting in half part and cook them a bit longer (the rest of the recipe is the same). Exact time will depend on the thickness of the thighs – they are ready when no longer pink inside.  
  • How long do I have to marinate the chicken? Do I have to marinate it at all? If you are in a hurry, you can skip the marinating part. The longer you marinate the chicken, the more it will absorb the flavors so I recommend at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 hour. You can also prepare overnight if it's more convient for you. 
  • Be sure to boil the sauce as instructed – this is what makes it safe to eat after being in contact with raw chicken.
Nutrition Facts
Lemon Basil Chicken
Amount Per Serving (1 portion (1/2 chicken breast + sauce))
Calories 178 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Cholesterol 72mg 24%
Sodium 132mg 6%
Potassium 458mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 9g 3%
Sugars 7g
Protein 24g 48%
Vitamin A 1.9%
Vitamin C 16.8%
Calcium 1%
Iron 2.3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

UPDATE NOTE: This post was originally published on September 10, 2012 and republished in August 2018 with an updated recipe, new photos and more tips.

An easy recipe for super tasty lemon and basil chicken breasts. The perfect healthy dinner! Recipe on NotEnoughCinnamon.com #cleaneating #glutenfree #paleo

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posted in
Chicken Dairy Free Gluten free Italian Inspired Low carb Main Dishes Meat Paleo Paleo/Primal Primal Recipes Summer Recipes Under 300 cal
20 Comments
  1. Adding marinade back to the dish that raw chicken has sat in is a no no! Total contamination risk. Would you make extra instead to add after the chicken has browned? This looks great otherwise!

    1. That’s a good point, I didn’t think of the raw chicken issue at all. Thanks for pointing that out! You could totally prepare additional marinade instead.

  2. Hi Marie,

    Just found your website today and love your recipes! Will be back often … definitely the way I like to cook and eat.

    In response to Ceejay, I think if you made a little more marinade, removed the chicken to a plate before adding the marinade and brought the marinade to a boil, while scraping up the browned bits, it would solve the contamination problem. I would boil it for 2 minutes or so, reduce to a rapid simmer and return the chicken along with any accumulated juices and follow the recipe from there. This recipe sounds great!

    1. Hi Cathy, thank you very much for your sweet comment! I’m very glad you enjoy my blog 🙂 As for this recipe, thanks for your input. It sounds like a great way to avoid the contamination problem AND have a delicious chicken at the end 😉 I need to take some new photos of this dish so I’ll try your method then.

  3. Sorry for the duplication Marie! My original response failed, or so i was told by World Press, so I reposted as a reply! Feel free to delete either and this comment. Thanks again, this, as well as many of your recipes sounds fantastic!

  4. I love messing around with marinades and when I was thinking about dinner for tonight I thought, how about lemon basil and honey. Since you have perfected it already I will use your recipe as a guideline and ill surely be back on your website because I like the way you think when it comes to food haha

    1. Great minds think alike 😉 lemon, basil and honey is an awesome combo, love it. I would be glad to see you around again soon Matt!

  5. I turned the extra marinade in to a sauce by first adding some water and simmering it for 15 minutes to make sire that there is no cross contamination than I added a slurry of cornstarch and water to thicken it than ye have a nice sauce to add to some cooked rice when ye serve it over rice chicken and steamed broccoli, or steamed cauliflower.

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