If you’re looking for a delicious one-skillet meal that’s Whole30 and paleo-friendly, look no further than this easy lemon garlic chicken recipe!

An overhead shot of two hands holding a skillet filled with lemon garlic chicken thighs with two red and white kitchen towels.

This winner-winner-chicken-dinner features crispy-skinned chicken thighs cooked in a zesty and garlicky sauce made with lemon juice, chicken broth, garlic, and fresh herbs. It’s easy to make, bursting with flavor, and perfect for weeknight dinners or special occasions. Plus, it’s gluten-free and packed with umami!

No need for a marinade!

The beauty of this dish is there’s no need to whip up a lemon garlic chicken marinade and marinate the chicken for hours before you cook it. You simply salt the chicken thighs and crisp up the skin in the skillet before quickly making a zippy lemon garlic pan sauce that accompanies the chicken as it bakes in the oven. The meat is infused with the sauce while it bakes while the skin stays crispy. Win-win!

Tips for the best lemon garlic chicken

A closeup view of lemon garlic chicken thighs in a skillet with golden brown skin.
  • Pick bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs with a lot of skin covering the meat! The skin shrinks as it browns so make sure you have thighs that are covered with a good amount of skin. That way, the chicken thighs will brown beautifully and release from the skillet easily because the extra fat rendered from underneath the skin helps with the browning.
  • Use a heavy bottom pan! I like to use cast iron, enameled cast iron, or a clad stainless steel skillet to get a uniform golden brown sear on the skin. Also, make sure the pan is oven-safe, too!
  • Remove some of the chicken fat before making the sauce! Although the fat released from the chicken skin is great for browning the chicken, it can make the sauce too greasy. I always spoon off most of it before making the sauce, making sure there’s just enough fat to properly sauté the minced garlic.
  • Don’t let the garlic burn! I recommend turning off the heat when you add the minced garlic because you don’t want it to burn and ruin the sauce. You can turn the heat back on after you’ve added the rest of the sauce ingredients to bring to a simmer before adding the chicken back in.
  • Taste the sauce before you add the chicken back in! Once the sauce is simmering and ready for the chicken, taste it and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. You want to make sure the sauce is perfectly delicious before the chicken cooks in it!

Ingredients

An overhead shot of the raw ingredients to make lemon garlic chicken.
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs: This lemon chicken recipe tastes best with this cut of chicken because the skin gets super crispy while the meat gets juicy and infused with lemony goodness. In a pinch, you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts but neither will taste as good! (Also, you’ll need to decrease the cooking time so you don’t overcook the chicken.)
  • Lemons
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh thyme: Toss in a few fresh thyme sprigs and remove them after the chicken is done cooking. Fresh rosemary or a couple of bay leaves also work. Want to use dried herbs? Just sub about half a teaspoon of your favorite dried herb.
  • Chicken broth
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil: To keep things dairy-free, I replace butter with extra virgin olive oil. Avocado oil also works!
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Minced fresh Italian parsley (optional garnish)

How to make lemon garlic chicken

Heat the oven and prep the chicken

Heat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle position. While the oven is heating up, pat your chicken pieces dry with a paper towel.

A person in a blue apron is blotting raw skin-on bone-in chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.

Next, sprinkle kosher salt liberally (about 2 teaspoons) on both sides of the chicken pieces.

A person in a blue apron is sprinkling kosher salt on a plate filled with raw skin-on bone-in chicken thighs.

Prep the lemons

Cut one lemon in half crosswise. Then, cut one of the lemon halves in half lengthwise before slicing it into thin half-moons. Set aside the lemon slices. Next, cut the second lemon in half crosswise and juice the remaining three lemon halves. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and set it aside.

Four sequential shots that show someone slicing two lemons in half and cutting one half of a lemon into thin semicircles and juicing the rest of the halves.

Sear the chicken

Heat a 12-inch oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add some oil to the pan. Then, sear the chicken pieces skin-side down in the hot pan until nicely browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.

While the skin is crisping, add freshly ground black pepper to the meaty side.

Four sequential shots that show someone adding olive oil to a enameled cast iron skillet, then adding raw chicken thighs skin side down in the pan, adding fresh pepper to the meat side, and a close up shot of the chicken.

Once the skin is golden brown, flip the pieces over and cook for 2 minutes more.

A pair of tongs is picking up a chicken thigh from a skillet with golden brown skin.

Transfer the chicken to a clean plate and turn off the heat.

An Asian woman in glasses is transferring chicken thighs with golden brown skin from a skillet onto a plate with a pair of tongs.

Make the lemon garlic sauce

Spoon off the excess fat in the pan, leaving just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet.

Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir it around so it gets fragrant but not burned. Then, pour the broth and reserved fresh lemon juice in the pan.

Four sequential shots that show someone making the lemon garlic chicken sauce in a pan by adding minced garlic, broth, and lemon juice.

Turn the heat on medium and bring the sauce to a simmer. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.

A gray silicone spatula is scraping up the fond in a pan to make lemon garlic chicken sauce.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Then, tuck in the thyme sprigs and lemon slices. Arrange the chicken pieces back in the pan, skin-side up.

Four sequential steps that show someone adding salt, thyme sprigs, lemon slices, and browned chicken thighs into a skillet with garlic lemon sauce.

Bake the chicken

Transfer the pan to the hot oven.

An overhead shot of a skillet filled with lemon garlic chicken thighs before it is put in a hot oven.

Roast the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 175°F. (You have an instant read thermometer, right? Use it!)

Removing a skillet filled with lemon garlic chicken thighs from the oven.

Garnish the chicken with a shower of minced Italian parsley, and dig in!

A person in a blue apron is sprinkling fresh parsley leaves onto a skillet filled with lemon garlic chicken.

How to save leftover lemon garlic chicken

Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

What can you serve with it?

To keep things paleo and Whole30, you can serve this fab chicken with a big green salad or some tasty veggie sides. Some of my favorite vegetables include mashed cauliflower, roasted green beans, sautéed spinach, and prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. Not paleo? Serve this tasty chicken and zingy sauce with rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes.


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


Lemon Garlic Chicken (Whole30, Keto, Paleo, Gluten Free)

5 from 5 votes
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings 6
If you’re looking for a delicious one-skillet meal that's Whole30 and paleo-friendly, look no further than this easy lemon garlic chicken recipe! 

Ingredients  

  • 3 pounds chicken thighs (3 pounds is about 6 thighs)
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chicken broth or bone broth
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • ¼ cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Instructions 

  • Heat the oven to 450°F with the rack in the middle position.
  • While the oven is heating up, pat your chicken pieces dry with a paper towel. Next, sprinkle kosher salt liberally (about 2 teaspoons) on both sides of the chicken pieces.
  • Cut one lemon in half crosswise. Then, cut one of the lemon halves in half lengthwise before slicing it into thin half-moons. Set aside the lemon slices.
  • Then, cut the second lemon in half crosswise and juice the remaining three lemon halves. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the lemon juice and set it aside.
  • Heat a 12-inch oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil to the pan. Then, sear the chicken pieces skin-side down in the hot pan until nicely browned and crispy, about 5 minutes. While the skin is crisping, add freshly ground black pepper to the meaty side.
  • Once the skin is golden brown, flip the pieces over and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate and turn off the heat.
  • Spoon off the excess fat in the pan, leaving just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add the minced garlic to the pan and stir it around so it gets fragrant but not burned. Then, pour the broth and reserved fresh lemon juice in the pan.
  • Turn the heat on medium and bring the sauce to a simmer. Scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. Then, tuck in the thyme sprigs and lemon slices. Arrange the chicken pieces back in the pan, skin-side up.
  • Transfer the pan to the hot oven. Roast the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 175°F to 185°F.
  • Garnish the chicken with a shower of minced Italian parsley, and dig in!

Video

Notes

  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 35g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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Recipe Rating




4 Comments

    1. 5 stars
      As always, delicious and healthy.
      Thank you, Michelle!
      Now…if I could only stop the skin from sticking to the pot like I do too often 🙄…

    1. You can simmer it on the stovetop, covered, until the chicken is cooked through but the skin won’t be crispy.