One-Pot Wonders

Ina Garten's Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

July 25, 2019
30 Ratings
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.Food52

Test Kitchen Notes

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

  • 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.

  • Eric Gainer
    Eric Gainer
  • Selma McIntire
    Selma McIntire
  • tastysweet
  • David Bruce Drago
    David Bruce Drago
  • SandraH

29 Reviews

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.
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.
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.
David B. March 18, 2020
This is perfection - the grocery store did not have fresh thyme but I used the dry thyme and classic poultry seasoning mix(my wife does not like fennel) and this is fantastic. The chicken is and veggies are juicy, tender, and I loved drizzling the lemon juices on the veggies. This will become a repeat meal.
SandraH January 26, 2020
This was delicious. Since I had something else in the oven, I roasted the chicken at 375 F for about twice as long and added baby potatoes to the skillet (Le Crueset). Great oil and herb mixture to rub all over the chicken. I placed the onion slices in the pan first, then the lemon slices and garlic. The roasted onion slices tasted wonderful and juices were terrific.
Flora September 27, 2019
Hi! What veggies go well with this dish? Can I put brussels sprouts at the bottom of the skillet? Any advice is welcome :) Thank you in advance!
Daniel B. September 23, 2019
Couple of thoughts about this excellent recipe:
1. The fennel is distinctive, but I have run out and substituted celery seed and parsley and it was outstanding.
2. Because the chicken sits under the foil in the hot pan, it's really crucial to take it out at 155 degrees or the chicken may well be overdone.
3. In my experience, the amount of wine called for the in the recipe is too little. In a 12 inch skillet, I always have to add a bit more to keep it from completely evaporating.
A great recipe!
Paul September 22, 2019
Doesn’t the wine and lemon juice destroy the cast iron pan’s seasoning?
YoRc September 23, 2019
IF your pan was properly seasoned prior to cooking you need only clean it when done and season lightly again using moderate heat.

Any dish with acidic elements, like those you refer to, will be mildly destructive to a well-seasoned pan. That said, cast-iron is highly forgiving of owners who know the value of re-seasoning. Those who claim no need of occasional re-seasoning have unhappy cast iron pans☹️
Sinamen78 September 24, 2019
Can I get the same result with my Le Creuset pan ? And not worry about acidic ingredients.
Estela L. September 24, 2019
Not sure that it destroys the seasoning but it might affect the flavor as the acid from the lemon reacts with the cast iron
Sue September 22, 2019
I have made this more times than I can count! It has never failed me whether for company or just the two of us! Winner, winner, chicken dinner!❤️ Love Barefoot Contessa recipes & yours! My two go to spots for Recipes!
Fran M. August 30, 2019
I love this. I have a sensitivity to lemon so I use oranges instead. It came out great.