Lemon Basil Chicken

Lemon Basil chicken in a white bowl with lemons and basil as a garnish

The Spruce 

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 12 mins
Total: 27 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Here's a simple chicken recipe flavored with a quick marinade of garlic, lemon, and basil. These tasty grilled or broiled chicken breasts are great with rice, pasta or baked potatoes.

The garlic and lemon flavors stand out, and the basil not only adds flavor, but it adds color to the dish. If you don't have fresh basil, use dried leaf basil. Fresh chopped chives or parsley could be substituted.


  • 4 boneless chicken breast halves (without skin)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil (chopped or 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves)
  • 2 lemons (juiced or about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or canola oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • Garnish: fresh basil or fresh parsley

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Put a chicken breast in a small plastic food storage bag and gently pound to an even thickness using the smooth side of a meat tenderizer or similar tool. Or, place a chicken breast on the counter and place a piece of plastic wrap on it. Pound it gently to an even thickness. Repeat with all of the chicken breasts. Alternatively—especially if the chicken breasts are large—carefully slice each of chicken breast horizontally to make two cutlets.

    Pounded chicken breast.
     The Spruce
  3. Combine the basil, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped garlic in a plastic food storage bag or container; add the chicken breasts and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

    Marinating chicken breasts.
     The Spruce
  4. Heat a clean, oiled grill rack over medium-high heat (about 375 F to 425 F), or heat the oiled rack of a broiler pan. 

    Oiled grill rack.
     The Spruce
  5. Arrange chicken over direct heat on the hot grill or broiler rack and grill or broil for about 10 to 12 minutes, turning frequently. Chicken must be cooked to the minimum safe temperature of 165 F / 74 C. To be sure, check with an instant-read thermometer.

    Grilled lemon basil chicken.
     The Spruce
  6. Serve with fresh basil leaves or parsley if desired.

    Lemon basil chicken.
     The Spruce
  7. Enjoy!


  • Pounding the chicken breasts to a uniform thickness means they will cook evenly. If you don't pound them, you could end up with dry chicken because while the thinner part will be done, it will take longer to cook the thicker parts.