Lemon Basil Chicken

Basil chicken with lemon is an easy one pan skillet meal packed with fresh flavors! This easy chicken recipe is fresh, healthy, cooks in a single skillet, and is ready to eat in 20 minutes!

Several weeks ago, Ben and I mapped out a series of mini home renovation projects with the goal of having them completed by this weekend. Current completion count: zero. At least our dinners have been running on schedule, courtesy of easy, one-pan recipes like this Lemon Basil Chicken.

 One Pan of Lemon Basil Chicken with Spinach and a side dish of fluffy brown rice

My sister—who is in the midst of some home projects that make ours look as invasive as reorganizing a coat closet—warned me that real life is “not HGTV.”

I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant…until I was driving to an IKEA in a different state to pick up several missing parts of the shelving units that the store forgot to ship.

Add the shelf snafu to our first round of curtains being too short (the right length is now back ordered until July), the guy installing our blinds leaving halfway through the job for another appointment (he still hasn’t been back), and the fact that the only concrete step we’ve taken towards repainting our kitchen cabinets is to narrow down the color options from 17 shades of “white” to 7, and you have a situation that is a far cry from the 48-hour flips as seen on HGTV.

Healthy Lemon Basil Chicken skillet meal

Easy Skillet Meals – Lemon Basil Chicken

We have made some progress. Over the weekend, we built and installed the aforementioned IKEA shelves, which I gleefully loaded with stacks of plates, serving bowls, glassware, my entire cookbook collection, and heavy cast-iron skillets. It took the better part of an afternoon, but in the end, every dish and spoon had its perfect place. My cast iron skillets were going to be used in short order to make easy, one skillet meals like lemon basil chicken, skillet chicken and tomatoes and sausage white bean gnocchi.

Then, two hours later, we realized the shelves needed to move three inches to the right. We had to pull every single item from the shelves, and a good number of them are still scattered around my office. I feel like this probably doesn’t happen on HGTV.

cast iron skillet with healthy lemon chicken with basil and spinach

Because we’ve been dedicating the majority of our free time toward the house, I’ve been appreciating quick and easy dinners like this Lemon Basil Chicken even more so than usual. Chunks of juicy chicken stir-fried with garlic, fresh lemon, and basil, this recipe requires hardly 5 minutes of prep and can be on your plate in 20.

Lemon Basil Chicken in a cast iron skillet

How to Make One-Pan Lemon Basil Chicken:

To make Lemon Basil Chicken a complete meal, I added several handfuls of fresh spinach. You can feel free to bulk it up further with any other sautéed veggies you enjoy or have on hand. We served our Lemon Basil Chicken over brown rice for dinner, and the next day, I tossed the leftovers with my salad for lunch.

When getting a healthy meal on the table feels like a project of its own, keep this simple Lemon Basil Chicken in mind. While it might not be reality TV-worthy, in the reality of NEED DINNER NOW, it’s a star!

Tools I used to make this Lemon Basil Chicken recipe:

green iron skillet of Lemon Basil Chicken
4.86 from 21 votes
Leave a Review »

Lemon Basil Chicken

Yield: 4 servings (about 4 cups total)
Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
One Pan Lemon Basil Chicken with Spinach—Ready in 20 minutes! Fresh, flavorful, and healthy. Serve with rice for an easy weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion — finely chopped, about 1 cup
  • 4 cloves garlic — minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, — cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 5 cups loosely packed baby spinach — about 5 ounces
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • Kosher salt and pepper — to taste
  • Prepared brown rice — for serving

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Once hot, add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 additional seconds.
  2. Add the chicken, increase the heat to medium high, and let cook for 3 minutes, browning all sides. Stir in the soy sauce and black pepper. Let cook until the chicken is completely cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  3. Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, letting the heat of the pan wilt it as you go. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil. Cook and stir just until the basil is wilted, about 1 additional minute. Taste and season with additional salt or pepper as desired.  Serve warm with rice as desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy One Pan Recipe, Healthy Chicken Dinner, Lemon Basil Chicken

Nutrition Information

Amount per serving (1(of 4), with 1/2 cup brown rice) — Calories: 349, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 98mg, Sodium: 534mg, Carbohydrates: 29g, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 3g, Protein: 40g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

titled photo collage - One Pan Lemon Basil Chicken

One Pan Lemon Basil Chicken with Spinach – Ready in 20 minutes! Fresh, flavorful, and healthy. Serve with rice for an easy weeknight meal. Recipe at wellplated.com | #onepan #skillmeal #chicken #healthyrecipe

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

56 comments

  1. I just took a cooking class at our local hospital called Sprouts of Spring and one of the things she had to sample was sorrel. It has a strong lemony flavor and I could picture using it in this dish in place of lemon – only if you wanted more greens along with the spinach. This recipe will be on my list to make for sure.
    P.S. Those HGTV people really laugh it up for the camera, huh? NOTHING in a remodel ever goes smoothly for us…we’ve done our entire house except one bathroom so far and there’s always something to keep you “laughing” and not in a good way! Hang in there – it’ll be beautiful when it’s done.

    • Thanks so much, Chris! It sounds like sorrel would be delicious here. If you do give it a try, I’d love to know what you think!

  2. Maybe you’re more Food Network and less HGTV. ;)

  3. Alexandra Wright Reply

    Made this tonight – excellent. Swapped out the spinach for local wild asparagus…mmmm. Thanks for another good one, Erin!

  4. This is a perfect recipe – simple and delicious ingredients and easy and fast to make.  We’ll be adding this to our “favorites”!  Thanks (again)

  5. 29g Carbohydrates – yikes! Enough to scare many of the growing number of low-carb people off. However, if I am interpreting the Nutrition info correctly, and you kick the brown rice out it becomes a very healthy 6g carbohydrates, at least as I see it (23g carbs in 1/2 C brown rice). I am no nutritionist and have grown weary of sorting out carbs vs sugar – I just treat them the same and leave it at that. I love almost anything with lemon in it – The basic recipe sounds great – I will make this with cauliflower rice or zoodles

  6. Made this and ate it over riced cauliflower -it was fantastic!

    • I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe, Wendy! Riced cauliflower is an excellent serving suggestion…thanks for sharing how it went!

  7. I tried this recipe and it was great!  Do you think this can be frozen after it is made? I am looking for great recipes my niece can reheat on her own. 

    • Hi Karen, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! I’ve never tried freezing this, but I think that should be fine! It should be thawed overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

  8. This was incredible!  I used avocado oil instead of evoo and used half fresh basil and the other half fresh lemon basil.  I pulled the chicken out at the end and tossed zoodles in to warm them up and soak up the flavor.  Kids devoured it.  Sadly, no leftovers :(

    • Lemon basil sounds amazing here, Kerri! Thanks so much for reporting back—I’m so happy to hear you loved it!

  9. I made it with salmon and it was very well received. Thank you

    PS:It is weirdly reassuring to know that the handyman issue is a global phenomenon. I hope it’s all good now

    • Nora, thanks for reporting back about how this works with salmon! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe.

  10. I made this for me and my boyfriend and it was a hit! We served it with sweet potato cauliflower mash and the sauce paired perfectly with it. The leftovers were even better as the lemon mellowed a bit and the basil intensified.

    • Emily, I’m glad to hear this recipe was a winner! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  11. I bought a basil plant and it’s too big… so I literally looked up ‘basil chicken’ and your recipe came up!  We are not fans of onions or cooked spinach but I tried it anyway and there isn’t even enough for leftovers! Kids and husband had no idea!  Excellent recipe! Thank you! 

    • HOORAY Carly, I’m so happy to hear this recipe was a success! Thank you so much for giving it a try and taking the time to report back. :)

  12. This was super easy and super tasty! I was able to do all the prep work between steps (turn on heat for skillet, chop onion, while onion’s cooking cut up chicken, etc), which I love being able to do. I used some dried basil instead of completely fresh since that’s very expensive, and I had this over orzo instead of rice. It’s fantastic and I’d definitely make it again! :D

    • YAY Jessi, I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  13. LOVED this! Even my dad, who prefers pizza over anything that sounds remotely healthy, chose this over the pizza we made for the kiddos!

    • That’s definitely a compliment from your dad, Susan! Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try and taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  14. My husband recently requested that I start cooking more low-carb (and low-dairy) meals to help him lose some weight. I made this for dinner this evening and served it over zucchini noodles, and he absolutely loved it – we both did! Will be adding this to our normal rotation of healthy meals. Thank you for a one pot meal that is filling, quick, and healthy! 

    • HOORAY Sarah, I’m so glad to hear this recipe is a winner for both of you. Thank you so much for giving it a try and taking the time to leave this wonderful review!

  15. This was great and made me feel very self righteous because it was so healthy. Loved the lemony tang and spinach is always a bonus (although my kids might disagree, they still ate it all). Quick and easy, and I would absolutely make this again. 

    • HOORAY! I’m glad to hear this recipe was a winner, Ann. I so appreciate your taking the time to leave this awesome review!

  16. Melissa Santana Reply

    Loved this! Made this dish for dinner tonight and my husband loved it too! So easy and flavorful! Thank you so much :) will be making this again! 

  17. My husband and I enjoyed this very much.  I used onion powder and garlic powder to simplify the preparation even more. It was a great recipe for using our abundance of fresh basil.   

  18. I was looking for a recipe to use my fresh lemon basil and found this one. Home run!  Love it. I substituted coconut aminos for the soy sauce.   And it was so easy and fast. Thank you for sharing!

  19. One of my favorite recipes! It’s super easy to make which makes it even better! It’s hard for me to find a recipe my whole family likes and this one is a family favorite.  Thank you! 

  20. Lucy Tomczynski Reply

    I used leftover rotisserie chicken for an even quicker meal!  This was great – everyone liked it and no left overs!  Fresh Seasonal cherry tomatoes may have been a good addition too!  I also agree that asparagus would have been a nice exchange.  I only gave it a four because we thought the soy over powered the lemon so we added more lemon juice.  Next time may scale back on soy.

  21. This was a great base recipe. My husband can’t do spinach so I used a whole package of fresh snow peas (I know – it’s a pain  to peel the strings away). I also added a bunch more lemon juice (1/4 cup or more). The salt and pepper to taste worked. I did a rough chop of all those awesome basin leaves. I would’ve used two onions if my husband were into them, but a modest amount was just fine. We really liked this and I’ll probably do it for guests ne t time it’s cooler. 

  22. I made this for dinner last night and was a very happy camper. The meal was great as written. Next time I think I will add another tbs of lemon juice and another cup of basil just to amp up the flavor. Cooks in a flash and that is also a plus for today’s busy lifestyles. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe, Alan

  23. This recipe looks delicious and I can’t wait to try it. I would like to make it in a large batch to bring to a fellowship luncheon. Do you think I should prepare in advance and reheat or would it be alright to try to bake this in the oven as a casserole? And what is the preferred way to reheat a dish like this? Thanks for your help!

    • Michelle, I would suggest preparing the recipe as written. As far as reheating, I’ve always done individual portions in the microwave at home, but you could try warming a larger amount in a casserole dish in the oven with a splash of chicken broth to keep it from drying out. I’d suggest letting it come to room temperature first and covering the dish with foil. If you wanted, you could try doing a test batch at home to see how it goes.

  24. My wife and I loved this dish, BUT:  You must be joking about 5 minutes prep time. Zesting the lemons alone takes 3-5 minutes. Dicing onion, mincing garlic, cutting up chicken, etc. It was easily 1/2 hour for me.

    • I’m sorry for any misunderstanding with the recipe Jimmy! I agree that the time should have been longer. Everyone takes different amounts of time in the kitchen, so I try to strike an average, but the original time was certainly under. I’m happy to hear that you and your wife enjoy this though!!

  25. We tend to prefer dark meat in our household. How would chicken thighs work? Also, I like to brown the meat before adding onions and garlic for 2 reasons. 1) Sometimes the garlic burns making the meal bitter or 2) the onions and garlic water down the skillet and the chicken doesn’t properly brown. Would browning the meat first and then adding the onions and garlic work?

    • Sue, you can certainly use chicken thighs, and I think that would work fine overall. I’d suggest doing the onion first, then once it has sweat and turned tender, adding the chicken and garlic together. That way the onion gets nice and tender, since it takes longer to cook than the chicken but the garlic doesn’t burn.

  26. Made this last night and it was delish and tasty!
    My hubby & I had such a chuckle when I blurted 
    out, omg I forgot the spinach, lol 😂. 
    It was still delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  27. I love, love, love this recipe. I added some zucchini noodles to up the vegetables. I will definitely be making this often. Fast and so easy. Thanks so much.

  28. I want to cook this for a party of 25. Do you think I could cook it in the oven? Making several batches would be time consuming. 

    • Hi Brenda! I’m so happy that you want to make this recipe for such a crowd. Unfortunately, it does taste at its best on the stovetop; I fear making it in the oven would dry it out. For that size of a party, you might want to consider a few batches of a hearty stew or chili that you can keep warm in the slow cooker. I know that’s not the answer you were hoping for, but I fear this recipe wouldn’t be best for a crowd of that size.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *