Don't let boring boneless, skinless chicken breasts ruin one more meal. Crazy juicy and loaded with fresh lemon flavor, this Lemon Pepper Chicken possesses all the zesty goodness your dinnertime rotation has been missing. A simple lemon pepper seasoning and a quick pan sear makes all the difference.
Healthy eaters, chicken lovers, and any mom desperate for a dinnertime win will adore this super easy Lemon Pepper Chicken recipe!
THE EASIEST (AND BEST) LEMON CHICKEN
Don't let that homemade lemon pepper thing throw you for a loop. It's the best part. An extra step, but one you'll soon find is well-worth taking.
Zest is a quick and easy way to add flavor to both savory dishes and desserts. The zest of citrus fruit is where the citrus oil resides, and friends, the oil packs a major punch of flavor. So, to add great big flavor vibes to this Lemon Pepper Chicken, we're gonna need some fresh zest.
If you're still feeling iffy about the zesting, rest assured this recipe was designed to deliver the utmost amount of flavor with the least amount of effort possible!
Most Lemon Pepper Chicken Recipes call for pounding out the chicken, dredging it in flour, and making an additional pan sauce. Not. Necessary.
This simplified lemon chicken recipe starts with a quick sear on the stovetop and ends with a bake in the oven, completely eliminating the need for pounding out chicken breasts!
The simple rub you'll be assembling, in combination with the pan sear, makes flour mixtures and dredging stations null and void.
And as for the sauce? Forget additional ingredients like white wine and chicken broth. All you need are a few slices of butter on top before the chicken goes in the oven and a squeeze of lemon once it comes out!
HOW TO MAKE LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN
- Make the lemon-pepper rub.
- Season the chicken.
- Sear the chicken.
To begin, you'll need a zester. You can either use a Microplane zester or the finest holes on a 4-sided box grater.
Zest two whole lemons, but take care not to "zest" too deep! If you get into the white, pithy part of your lemon, your rub will taste very bitter. You only want to get into the yellow part.
Once you have your lemons zested, add the zest to a small bowl and combine it with Kosher salt and pepper. The easiest way to do this is by rubbing the spices and the zest together between your fingertips.
In order to lock the lemon-pepper seasoning in place, we're going to sear the chicken. To prep the chicken for searing, you'll first need to pat away the excess moisture from the chicken breasts using a paper towel. Then, drizzle the chicken with olive oil and rub it all over with the lemon-pepper seasoning.
Once the chicken is seasoned, add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet and allow it to come to temperature over medium-high heat.
When the oil is heated, add the chicken breasts to the pan. Take care not to overcrowd the chicken and sear in batches if you must. You can't get a good sear if the chicken breasts are crammed together creating a steamy situation in the pan.
Sear the Lemon Pepper Chicken for about 3 minutes on one side, then flip the chicken and sear for about 2 minutes more. You're not looking to cook the chicken all the way through -- you just want to get some nice, golden color going on.
After the chicken is looking golden-brown and seared, add it to a buttered baking dish and top it with thinly sliced pads of butter. Bake the chicken until the internal temperature registers between 160 to 165°F, about 20-25 minutes.
Allow the chicken to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes. Before serving, add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to the top of the Lemon Pepper Chicken, plate, and spoon any leftover juices from the baking dish generously over the top.
Then, serve your chicken alongside fresh green beans and creamy mashed potatoes for a well-rounded dinner the entire family will love!
CAN I USE CHICKEN THIGHS?
If you'd prefer to use chicken thighs in the place of breasts for this Lemon Pepper Chicken recipe, go for it! However, rather than using boneless, skinless thighs, I recommend bone-in, skin-on thighs.
6 MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Smothered Chicken Bacon Ranch
- Jalapeno Popper Chicken
- Monterey Chicken
- Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
- Chicken Scallopini
- Baked Chicken Leg Quarters
Crazy juicy, baked Lemon Pepper Chicken with an easy, quick-fix lemon pepper seasoning packed with fresh lemon zest and black pepper.
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, separated
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into thin pads
Preheat the oven to 350°F and have ready a buttered 9x13" casserole dish.
In a small bowl combine lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Do not discard the lemons. Rub the together mixture between your fingertips, allowing it to fall back into the bowl until well combined. Set aside.
Place the chicken breasts on a work surface and pat away the excess moisture with a paper towel.
Drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and rub all over to adhere. Then, rub the chicken all over with the lemon-pepper rub and set aside until ready to use.
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to come to temperature.
Add the chicken breasts to the pan, taking care not to overcrowd the chicken, and cook in batches if necessary. Sear the chicken for 3 minutes on the first side, then flip, and cook for 2 minutes more on the other side. Transfer the chicken breasts to the prepared baking dish.
Top the chicken with pads of butter and bake for 20-25, until the internal temperature of the chicken registers 165°F. Allow to cool about 10 minutes.
Cut the zested lemons and half and squeeze over the baked chicken breasts. Plate the chicken and generously spoon the pan juices over the top. Serve and enjoy!