Seared and Roasted Chicken Breasts with Lemon and Thyme

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Like most people, I’ve always been partial to the pairing of lemon and chicken. Here, the chicken picks up lemon and thyme flavors from its marinade and the pan sauce echoes them. You’ll note I don’t suggest any variations or substitutions for this recipe. When you have something that tastes so good and is so easy, why change it?

NotesOrder of preparation:

• Prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken.

• Sear and roast the chicken.

• While the chicken is resting, prepare the sauce.

Make-ahead notes:

• The chicken in its marinade can be refrigerated 3 hours or up to 1 day.

• The seared and roasted chicken can be kept at room temperature, in the baking pan, up to 1 hour.

Makes4 servings

Cooking Methodpan-frying, roasting


Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationdiabetic, egg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, low carb, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and Texturebuttery, herby, meaty, savory, tangy, tart


  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons virgin olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • Zest of 1 lemon, in strips
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pure olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 cup Chicken Stock or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • Juice of ½ lemon, plus a few drops
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Green and Yellow Squash Ribbons or any zucchini dish; thyme and zucchini are a superb combination
  • Herbed Smashed Potatoes
  • Confit Bayaldi


  1. For the chicken:

  2. Combine the lemon juice and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small bowl. Place the chicken breasts in a shallow pan and pour the lemon mixture over them, coating both sides. Scatter the zest, thyme, and pepper over both sides.

  3. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 1 day.

  4. Preheat the oven for 400°F. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

  5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil until smoking over high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, then immediately transfer the pan to the oven and roast the chicken for 8 minutes. Turn and continue roasting until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes, keeping warm.

  6. For the sauce:

  7. Pour off any grease and return the skillet to medium heat. Heat the olive oil until shimmering, then sauté the shallot for 1 minute. Add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Add the lemon juice and thyme, reduce the heat to medium-high, and boil gently until reduced by a little mote than half. Reduce the heat to medium and whisk in the butter.

  8. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

  9. To serve:

  10. Cut each breast on the bias into ½-inch slices. Place on a warm serving plate and spoon the sauce on top, to taste.

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I made this recipe substituting fresh sage for the thyme, and it is my new favorite weeknight chicken recipe. The only issue I had was with the cooking time of the chicken in the oven--I had large chicken breasts, so they took much longer to bake (closer to 35 minutes). Highly recommend everything by Debra Ponzek!


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