Baked Lemon Chicken With Garlic

Marinated lemon chicken with garlic recipe

​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 55 mins
Marinate: 3 hrs
Total: 4 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
750 Calories
44g Fat
9g Carbs
76g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 750
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 44g 56%
Saturated Fat 14g 71%
Cholesterol 252mg 84%
Sodium 667mg 29%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 76g
Calcium 102mg 8%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Garlic, fresh lemon juice and zest, and a little thyme add fantastic flavor to this baked chicken. It's an easy and rewarding dish with bright, bold flavor. A garnish of parsley and slices of fresh lemon finish the meal perfectly.

You'll need about four medium to large lemons for this chicken dish—two for the juice and zest, and two for the sliced lemon garnish. Use a combination of split chicken breasts, bone-in thighs, and drumsticks, or use chicken leg quarters or a cut-up whole chicken.

Serve lemon chicken with mashed or roasted potatoes and wilted greens or steamed green beans or asparagus. Egg noodles or a grain like quinoa or couscous are also good choices.


  • 5 pounds chicken (bone-in, skinless pieces)
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 cloves​ garlic (crushed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (grated)
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme (or about 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • Garnish: 2 lemons (thinly sliced)
  • Garnish: 1/2 cup fresh parsley (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for marinated lemon chicken with garlic
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a large nonreactive dish or put them in a large food storage bag that can be sealed.

    Arrange chicken
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, lemon zest, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Spoon the lemon mixture over chicken. Cover or seal and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, turning frequently to keep the chicken coated with the marinade.

    Whisk together lemon zest
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Preheat the oven to 425 F. Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain well.

    Chicken on plate
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Pour the marinade into a saucepan and set aside.

    Pour the marinade over chicken
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  6. Arrange the chicken in a shallow baking dish. Brush with the melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes. 

    Arrange chicken
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  7. Meanwhile, place the marinade over high heat and bring it to a full boil.

    Pot on stove
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  8. Brush the marinade over the chicken pieces. Continue baking for about 20 to 30 minutes longer, or until the chicken is browned and thoroughly cooked, basting frequently. 

    Brush the chicken with marinade
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  9. Garnish the chicken with the lemon slices and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

    Lemons over chicken
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  10. Boil remaining marinade for 1 minute and spoon some over the chicken just before serving, or serve on the side. 

    Marinated lemon chicken
    ​The Spruce / Diana Chistruga


  • To get the most juice from a lemon, heat it (whole, uncut) in the microwave for about 20 seconds, or until they are warm. Or roll the lemon on the countertop while pressing it gently.
  • Chicken breasts can become dry if cooked too long, while thighs and drumsticks are much more forgiving and stay moist when cooked to a higher temperature.

Recipe Variations

  • Replace the bone-in chicken with boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Bake them for 15 minutes, brush them with the boiled marinade, and then continue to bake for about 10 to 20 minutes longer, or until they register at least 165 F on an instant-read thermometer.
  • If you don't have fresh or dried thyme, you may substitute with a different complementary herb. Basil, tarragon, rosemary, marjoram, and chervil are all excellent seasonings for chicken.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate leftover lemon chicken in a covered container for up to 3 days.
  • To freeze, transfer leftover lemon chicken to freezer bags or containers. Label with the name and date and freeze the chicken for up to 4 months.
  • To reheat, thaw the chicken in the refrigerator before heating on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave.