Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken – this is kind of like the little black dress of cooking – super easy to throw on, but can be dressed up and down easily. 10 minutes to make, and an hour to bake a gorgeous one pan dinner.
I wouldn’t hesitate to serve this to even the most special of company – but it’s easy enough to be a super weeknight dinner for family. Use plain old potatoes and diced tomatoes and it’s homey and beautiful; try cherry tomatoes and baby potatoes for a gorgeous presentation.
While I think Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken is perfect as is: garlic, lemon and rosemary are such a delicious, classic combo, this is also a versatile dish. If rosemary isn’t your thing, try a little oregano, basil or tarragon. If you’d rather use thighs instead of breasts, go for it. If you’d like to add in other vegetables instead of potatoes or in addition to, feel free to riff. It’s hard to go wrong.
Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken is easy to stretch; just add a little more of this or that. If you’d like your potatoes crunchy, use a larger 12″ skillet & leave more room in the pan; if you’d like them soft and roasty, pile it all in a slightly smaller skillet.
While this is an easy, one pan meal, a simple salad would be a nice accompaniment.
Skillet Roasted Lemon Chicken
- 1 large lemon, finely zest 1 teaspoon of zest, squeeze one tablespoon of juice from lemon, then thinly slice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved or one large tomato, chopped
- 10 kalamata olives, pitted if desired
- 4 red potatoes quartered or small-sized russets, cut into chunks or equivalent amount of very small baby potatoes
- 4 six ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Water if needed
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Arrange lemon slices in a single layer in the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Use a large 12″ skillet for crunchy potatoes and a smaller skillet for a softer, oven roasted potato.
Combine oil, zest & the tablespoon of juice, salt, pepper, garlic & rosemary in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, olives and potatoes and toss to coat.
Arrange chicken in a single layer towards the center of the skillet on top of the lemon slices. If one end of the breasts is thicker, place with the thinner portion toward the center, thicker part toward the edge of the skillet.
Arrange vegetable mixture over and around chicken, potatoes toward the outside. Pour any remaining olive oil/lemon juice mixture over the chicken breasts, scraping out the herbs and garlic and smearing it over the chicken.
Bake at 450 for 50 to 55 minutes or until chicken is done to 165 degrees.
Depending on how juicy the tomatoes and lemon are, this chicken will form its own sauce, but check after about 25 minutes of cooking time. If it seems to be dry and is starting to stick to the pan, add about 1/4 cup of water and nudge the potatoes around just a bit. Check again at about 45 minutes of cooking time. If the skillet is dry, add a bit more water, stir the vegetables, baste, if desired.
It’s your choice toward the end if you’d like to add enough liquid in the form of water to have a gorgeous sauce in the bottom or just a little so the potatoes will be crunchy. Just be sure to add enough water to prevent any burning.
- A teaspoon of zest and a tablespoon of juice don’t seem like much, but really are plenty for this dish – it is surprising how much flavor is picked up from the lemon in the bottom of the skillet.
- If there are leftovers, discard any rinds from the bottom of the skillet before storing in the fridge – they begin to taste really strong and overpower the dish.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
- Chicken: I never buy full price chicken – it goes on sale too often. Some sales are better than others, but usually every few weeks it will drop to $1.89 a pound, and I stock up then. I prefer bone in breasts over boneless (see Bone-In Chicken Breasts, How to Deal with in a Frugal Manner) but I’ll buy either bone in or boneless at this price. I portion the chicken in Ziploc bags, a breast per person for meals and freeze. If breasts are super large, I’ll trim them down to about six ounces and make tenders for the kids or use the bits for stir fry. Cost: $2.84.
- Olive Oil: I have a little strategy for buying olive oil – using coupons and sales to lower the price, so click on the link. I also look for new brands and stock up – heavy competition means that when a new brand comes to the store, it is often at a fantastic price for a few weeks, then settles in at around the same price as the others. I think it’s important to use olive oil as opposed to many others – the health benefits outweigh a bit more extra cost, and it can be had at a very reasonable price. I also like the fact that Olive oil contains no hidden trans fats like Canola or Vegetable oil. Cost for this recipe: 8 cents.
- Lemon: In season in the winter months here – lemons are often on sale through out the year 3 to 4 to a dollar. The rind holds as much or more flavor than the juice, so I often grate it off before using and store in a Ziploc in my freezer – the little bit dries up but still holds more flavor than the store-bought. If I’m in a pinch and don’t have lemon, I’ll use it instead. Microwave your lemon for a bit if it’s hard and/or roll it on the counter before you juice it and it will break down easier. If you just need a small amount, pierce your lemon with a fork and squeeze out, then remember to use it – later. I bag it and put it in the door of the fridge. Cost 25 cents.
- Garlic: I look for a price of about $2.99 a pound, or about 54 cents a head. Check the pricing of the bulk per pound as opposed to the packaged. I never really find it on sale, but I use so much, I pay attention and buy a bit more when I see the price is lower. Cost for 4 cloves, around 5 cents.
- Olives: I often find them on special around Holidays and during the summer, sometimes with coupons. Just like with Tuna, your pharmacy shops often have great sales on olives. (They’re often 99 cents at Walgreens, and often there are 50 cent coupons available.) I’ll find them, also, sitting in grocery carts with other items reduced for quick sale as their reach their “best by” date – a seemingly arbitrary date stamped on the jar by the manufacturer, it seems to have little meaning for many items, including olives. They keep forever in the jar, and literally for months in the fridge after being opened. This small amount was 80 cents.
- Tomatoes, fresh: These vary in price (and quality) according to season, and a good price here in Minnesota is between 69 and 99 cents a pound. In the winter, I often look for plum tomatoes because they seem to taste better. Don’t be swayed by the outside of the tomato – some of the best have imperfections, especially if they’re vine ripened. Never refrigerate your tomatoes if you can help it. An old farm wife’s trick? Add a sprinkle of salt and sugar if your tomatoes are tasteless. A tomato, at 99 cents a pound ran about 30 cents.
- Russet Potatoes: Potatoes are dirt cheap, the most inexpensive of all the potatoes – look for a great sales price of $1.99 for 10 pounds in the fall and winter; regular sales price is $1.99 for five pounds in my area. Store in a dark, cool, dry area, not near your onions – I like to take them out of the plastic and store in a loosely closed paper bag. Don’t know what to do with a large bag? Make what recipes you’d like to, then make Freezer Twice Baked Potatoes with the rest. I often pick out the smaller,misshapen potatoes for mashing and save the more regular sized ones for baking or other recipes. Whenever possible, I scrub and keep the skins on, even though they may not be shown that way in a recipe…A “medium” sized potato (in my mind) runs about 5 ounces, smaller a few ounces less and a large around eight. Large “baking” potaotes look gorgeous but are always pricier and way above normal serving sizes. Cost for a medium at $1.99 for 10 pounds, is 8 cents, at $1.99 for five pounds, about 4 cents. Cost for this recipe: 32 cents.
Put Your own Spin on it:
- See suggestions above; this is such a great basic method of cooking that using a bit of imagination, one could come up with almost endless variations.