Creamy Lemon Chicken
Creamy Lemon Chicken makes a delicious and easy meal ready in just 25 minutes! With tender pan-fried chicken breasts coated in a creamy garlic lemon sauce, this is a restaurant-worthy family dinner, all in one skillet.
Easy Creamy Lemon Chicken
When you need a new way to dress up chicken breasts, this easy creamy lemon chicken recipe is just the ticket. The chicken is well-seasoned and tender from a quick pan-fry, while the sauce is a luxurious blend of lemon and cream, an enticing combination that punches well above its weight for everyday elegance.
This dish offers it all to the busy home cook. It’s:
- Quick and easy to get on the table, with minimal chopping and a quick cooking time.
- Easy to clean up after, because everything is made in one skillet.
- Creamy yet light. You can enjoy a fabulous cream sauce with just a smidge of actual cream, for a meal that tastes decadent but won’t bust your gut.
Garnish with your favorite fresh herbs and serve alongside an arugula salad for a fresh, family-friendly meal.
If you’re serving with pasta, you may want to double the creamy lemon sauce. It’s that good!
Ingredients & Common Substitutions
Here are a few notes and shopping tips about the ingredients you’ll need to make this, as well as possible substitutions.
- Chicken Breasts. You’ll want boneless skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced. You can buy “thin-sliced” breasts at most grocery stores, but it’s also easy to just cut thicker breasts in half through the middle so each piece becomes two.
- Lemons. The star of the show! Use fresh lemon juice for sure, and save extra wedges for a pretty garnish.
- Broth. Chicken broth, chicken stock, vegetable broth, or vegetable stock — use whatever you have.
- Cream. Thanks to the miracle of reductions, you really only need a bit of cream — 1/4 cup — to still have a rich, luscious sauce. You can use heavy cream or light cream with excellent results. You can substitute half and half, but you may want to use a bit more, and your sauce is not likely to be quite as thick.
- Garlic. For aroma and flavor. Again, use fresh if possible, but jarred minced garlic works, too.
- Flour. For dredging the chicken, which helps it form a delicious light crust. Omit this or substitute your favorite gluten-free flour to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Staples: butter, olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, and dried oregano.
You can also add a glug of white wine to the sauce for an extra element of flavor!
How To Make Creamy Lemon Chicken
This does come together very quickly, so if you’re planning to serve with pasta or rice, be sure to start those first. Here’s what you’ll do:
- Season and pan-fry the chicken. A sprinkle of salt, pepper, and dried oregano on the chicken locks in flavor, while a light dredge of flour helps it develop a light crust, and also helps a bit to thicken the sauce. Cook the chicken on both sides in a hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil, then remove to a plate and set aside.
- Make the sauce. It will have tons of flavor from garlic, lemon, and the browned bits of chicken left in the pan.
- Return chicken to skillet. Spoon the sauce generously over it for maximally delicious effect!
- Garnish and serve! We love extra lemon wedges, grated lemon zest, and a bit of fresh dill for the perfect finishing touch. Fresh parsley or fresh oregano are also stellar.
Important: Add the lemon juice at the end of making the sauce! This minimizes any risk of curdling.
Variations and Add-Ins
Care to tweak or incorporate more flavors? Here are some ideas.
- Stir in baby spinach, arugula, or kale for built-in greens. Wilt these in the sauce by adding them right after the cream.
- Add a sprinkle of cheese: Finely-grated Parmesan cheese or its cousin, Pecorino-Romano, is a hit. You can add it to the sauce along with the cream or sprinkle on top of the chicken at the end.
- Use lemon pepper seasoning on the chicken breasts for an extra hit of perky lemon flavor.
- Add capers, olives, or sun-dried tomatoes for extra tang. Mix them in along with the chicken broth. If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, bonus points for using the oil from the jar to sauté the chicken.
- Make it gluten-free by omitting the flour entirely or using any gluten-free blend that you like.
Creamy lemon chicken is absolutely delicious served with al dente pasta, rice of any kind, or slices of baguette or French bread to mop up the sauce. If you plan to use the lemon pan sauce over pasta, consider doubling it.
On the side, we suggest a simple arugula or Italian salad. We also frequently enjoy it alongside steamed peas, steamed broccoli, or roasted green beans. Adding a drizzle of the sauce sure makes vegetables more tasty to eat!
More Frequently Asked Questions
What is lemon chicken sauce made of?
You can make a fantastic lemon chicken sauce from a simple blend of garlic, chicken broth, lemon juice, cream, salt, and pepper. Adding dried oregano, as in this recipe, or another herb of your choice, enhances the flavor even more. It’s best to make sauce for chicken in the same pan used for cooking the chicken, so that no flavor is left behind.
Do you wash chicken before cooking?
Short answer: no. Raw chicken does not need to be washed prior to being cooked, and doing so only increases the odds of spreading bacteria around your sink and other parts of the kitchen.
How do you add lemon to cream sauce without curdling it?
A common concern when making citrus cream sauces is the risk of curdling when the rich cream mixes with the acidic lemon juice. You can minimize the chances of this in two ways: adding the lemon juice as the final ingredient to the sauce, after the cream has had a chance to warm slightly, and by not cooking the sauce too long.
What is the recommended internal temperature for chicken breasts?
When chicken hits 165° F, it is cooked through and ready to eat, according to the USDA. If you let the chicken continue cooking as it climbs above this temperature, it can quickly dry out, and there’s no going back. The best way to avoid this? Invest in a simple instant-read meat thermometer. This makes it easy to watch for that benchmark and pull the chicken off right away. No guesswork.
How do I get a nice golden crust on my chicken breasts?
Two tips here: be sure your chicken breasts are seasoned evenly on both sides, and be certain that the pan and cooking oil is already hot when you place the chicken breasts in the skillet. This helps them to sear quickly on the bottom and delivers that appetizing golden crust.
Storage & Reheating
Leftovers? Lucky you! This is a delicious meal to find for an extra lunch or dinner.
- Store individual portions or a larger amount in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, then reheat on 50% power in the microwave until warmed through. These are our favorite containers!
- If the cream sauce separates upon reheating, don’t fret. It will still taste delicious, and can probably be whisked back to a smooth consistency, especially if you add in an extra 1-2 Tablespoons of liquid.
More Quick Chicken Recipes
If you try this Creamy Lemon Chicken, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Creamy Lemon Chicken
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 thin-sliced chicken breasts
- kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano divided
- olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2-3 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- lemon zest, lemon wedges, fresh parsley, or fresh dill optional garnish
- Place flour in a small bowl or plate. Sprinkle chicken breasts evenly on both sides with salt, pepper, and about 1 teaspoon of oregano. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Lightly dredge each chicken breast through the flour. Shake gently to remove any excess, then place each piece in the hot pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, just until browned and cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add another small drizzle of olive oil to the skillet, along with the butter. When butter melts, add the garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds, just until fragrant. Pour in the chicken broth, then scrape the pan to remove any browned bits from the bottom. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly reduced.
- Stir in the cream, followed by the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano and salt and pepper to taste. (I usually add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 6-8 cranks of black pepper; this will vary according to your family’s preference.) When cream is warmed through, stir in the lemon juice.
- Return chicken to the skillet. Let it warm for 1-2 minutes, spooning a bit of sauce over each piece.
- Garnish as desired with extra lemon wedges, grated lemon zest, and fresh herbs, such as parsley or dill. Serve and enjoy!
- Add White Wine: Love the extra flavor of cooking with wine? Add a glug of your favorite dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, to the sauce along with the broth. Or try this recipe for chicken in white wine sauce instead.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Omit the flour entirely, or use any gluten-free blend. It’s main purpose is to help the chicken develop a slight crust, but it does also help to thicken the sauce a bit.