One-Pot Wonders

Ina Garten's Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

July  3, 2021
4.4 Stars
Photo by Quentin Bacon
Author Notes

"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this! I have the butcher butterfly the chicken so all I do is grind the thyme, fennel seeds, salt, and pepper, mix it with olive oil, and brush it on the chicken. When the lemon slices are roasted and caramelized, you can eat them with the chicken." —Ina Garten

Reprinted with permission from Cooking for Jeffrey: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. Copyright © 2016 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Staub Enameled Cast Iron Skillet
- Five Two Bamboo Double Sided Cutting Board
- Five Two Essential Kitchen Knives


Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: 25 Skillet Chicken Recipes for When You Want Dinner (but Not Dishes). —The Editors

Watch This Recipe
Ina Garten's Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 3
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 lemon, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick (see Notes)
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 (4-pound) chicken, backbone removed and butterflied
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • Juice of 1 lemon
In This Recipe
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  2. Place the thyme, fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a mini food processor and process until ground. Pour the olive oil into a small glass measuring cup, stir in the herb mixture, and set aside.
  3. Distribute the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and distribute the onion and garlic on top. Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with about half the oil and herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels (very important!), and brush it all over with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.
  4. Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan (not on the chicken!) and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 155 to 160°F.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, sprinkle it with the lemon juice, cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the chicken into quarters or eighths, sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices, cooked lemon, and onion.
  6. Notes: Remove the ends of the lemon, cut in half through the stem ends, and slice thinly crosswise. Sometimes I sprinkle the chicken with minced fresh rosemary before allowing it to rest.
  7. Make Ahead: Assemble the chicken in the pan and refrigerate for a few hours before roasting.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Domenica
  • paulinapererariveroll
  • Katewawa
  • 2tattered
  • Eric Gainer
    Eric Gainer

43 Reviews

Deborah R. January 26, 2022
I will definitely be making this chicken again. Super easy to make! I added red potato wedges and those were amazing!
Lpappas January 18, 2022
I love this recipe but caution note. If you cook this in a cast iron pan you will remove any cure of the pan. Lemon being highly acidic reacts with the iron. You will have to recurs the pan after cooking.
dj January 18, 2022
Thanks for the warning.
dj January 17, 2022
No ingredients swaps, no modifications, not a single change required for the simplest, least complicated way to have moist, flavorful chicken with crisp skin.
Domenica January 17, 2022
Followed the recipe but used chicken breasts because that's what i had, so cut the time by 10 minutes. I omitted the salt and added a cut up preserved lemon in addition to a Meyer lemon. So good. Extra lemony. juicy and delicious.
paulinapererariveroll December 28, 2021
The chicken came out perfectly juicy and crispy skin!
Katewawa December 4, 2021
I made the critical mistake of not bringing the chicken to room temp-ish before roasting; my cooking time was almost 2x what the recipe states. As a result I basically starved the date I was cooking for (for the first time) who I really wanted to impress. Luckily, because by the time this was done cooking , he was so starving he probably would have thought anything was delicious. Also learned he is extremely patient, which is a great trait. :) Anyway, I added fennel bulb to the onion/lemon in the pan, and would do that again. Agree with the reviewer who said this needed the full tablespoon of salt. Also, fyi, this tastes even better on day 2 and 3.
2tattered October 25, 2021
A lovely, lively mix of flavors but too much fat! And I’m not fat-shy at all. I meticulously trimmed the thighs I used, even carving out that little triangle of yellow fat but the amount of grease was still too high. Add in the 1/3 cup of olive oil, and it’s over the top. I’ll make it again, but will pour off the sauce and degrease it, then add it back.
Sue October 20, 2021
I have made this dish many times over a period of years! It has always been a big hit! Juicy, tender & delicious!
peppersandeggs October 20, 2021
I didn't say it wasn't juicy, tender and delicious. I said it was too lemony.
Sue October 20, 2021
I understand, I wasn’t demeaning your comment just relating my experience.
peppersandeggs October 20, 2021
I will try this recipe again. The first time I made it I thought there was too much lemon.
Eric G. April 11, 2021
This was a huge Sunday night dinner hit. My girlfriend said "add that to your repertoire"... The depth of flavour in the sauce is spot on, lemon, tart but balanced. The aromatic rub was a perfect blend
brushjl March 26, 2021
Fabulous, I forgot to spatchcock, but it was still great.
susie January 8, 2021
I made this two days ago and my husband and I both loved it! It was easier than I thought it would be even though I had to "butterfly" the chicken myself. But cooking was soo easy. I'm so happy to have this recipe and will surely have it again. What a joy!
Pups224 November 18, 2020
It is rare that a recipe comes out just as it should without tweaking the second time around. The breast was moist and the skin crispy, a rare occurrence. The sauce was just delicious. I was leery about one tablespoon of salt, but the dish needs it. A very good chicken is an asset.
I can no longer lift a 12” iron skillet so I used a smallish All Clad roasting dish.
The chicken was served with plain jasmine rice.
Edu1298 October 27, 2021
Hello, what type of lemons did you use? I'm asking because I've made this recipe two times with regular yellow lemons (probably eureka), and it comes out a bit too sour.
Donna C. September 8, 2020
Can this recipe be done with chicken breasts and thighs as pieces instead of whole chicken? I need more than one whole chicken will make?
cmk4330 November 17, 2020
I would think so. I made a small version of it with just two boneless, skin-on chicken breasts and it worked great! Based on that, plus other comments below that doing it in a roasting pan vs cast iron worked, I bet you could do more-than-one-chicken's-worth of pieces in a roasting pan. The key to me is having skin-on pieces; the skin gets so crunchy and good, and keeps the chicken moist.
NXL August 26, 2020
Fantastic. The fennel is the ingredient I could not possibly leave out. The sauce magically creates itself.
Selma M. August 14, 2020
A question about step #3 in directions - "Distribute the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and distribute the onion and garlic on top. Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with about half the oil and herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels (very important!), and brush it all over with the rest of the oil and herb mixture."
Why is it important to pat the sky dry, if you immediately brush it with more oil?
Jo G. August 16, 2020
Too help the skin become crispy. Also why you don’t pour the wine directly on the chicken.
Louise V. January 20, 2022
Soaking up any humidity/moisture with paper towel prior to applying the oil is key to turning out extra crispy chicken (when roasting skin-on game hens/poultry). Chicken is often pre-packaged and covered in food wrap, or thawed, trapping moisture inside; purists might even suggest rinsing under cold running water before starting the recipe...
Lori E. August 14, 2020
I've never used a spatchcocked chicken, butI have six bone-in chicken thighs, plus all the rest of the ingredients. Also, my oven doesn't do well at 450 degrees (the smoke alarms goes off). If I roast at 425 degrees for 40 minutes (or maybe 400 degrees for 45 minutes) before adding the wine--that should work, don't you think?
Judy August 19, 2020
Yes, it should work just fine. I did spatchcock chicken at 400 for 1 hr, and it was perfect.
Susan D. August 12, 2020
I made this for dinner tonight and it was fantastic! My cast iron pan was too small, so I used an oblong glass dish (smaller than 13" x 9" though), which worked perfectly!

Having recently donated my mini food processor, I used my mortar and pestle for the herb mixture and it worked very well.

The only change I made to the recipe is that I used 3 large cloves of garlic rather than 2, both for the health benefits and because I love garlic.

I served the chicken with brown basmati rice, chopped spinach, and naan. The lemon, onion, garlic, and juices were wonderful served over the rice, as well as over bites of chicken after I cut the meat off the bones on my plate.

I'll definitely make this again!

One last note...
A pair of meat scissors works great for cutting the chicken to remove the back bone! They're a reasonably-priced investment that, once added to your set of kitchen tools, you will use often.
tastysweet August 9, 2020
Don’t have a 12” cast iron pan. Only 10”. I could forgo the drumsticks as neither of us eat them. That might leave enough room. What’s your thought?
glammie August 13, 2020
Just try it and see …
tanimags August 9, 2020
I don’t have a cast iron fry pan however I have a dutch oven. Would this dish work in it? Thanks
glammie August 13, 2020
Yes, it will. I've done it this way.
tanimags August 13, 2020
Thank you glammie for your reply. It sounds like a lovely dish!
glammie August 14, 2020
Oh, wait! A dutch oven? With the tall sides? No, that will not work. You need a baking dish with low sides. Just do it in a roasting pan. My apologies!
tanimags August 14, 2020
No worries as I have a reg. roasting pan. Thanks.