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.

An easy and delicious skillet meal with chicken, lemon, and basil

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.

Easy chicken recipe with lemon and basil 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!

Recommended Tools to Make This Dish

green iron skillet of Lemon Basil Chicken

Lemon Basil Chicken

5 from 56 votes
One Pan Lemon Basil Chicken with Spinach—Ready in 20 minutes! Fresh, flavorful, and healthy. Serve with rice for an easy weeknight meal.

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins

Servings: 4 servings (about 4 cups total)

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
 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Notes

  • Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4), with 1/2 cup brown riceCalories: 349kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 40gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 98mgSodium: 534mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3g

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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120 Comments

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  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.

    1. 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!

      1. So the pics show full-on slices of lemon but the recipe only mentions lemon zest. Get it together, Erin. ;)

        1. The lemon slices are for garnish and aren’t necessary for the recipe to taste delicious, but they are pretty. ;)

      2. I absolutely love this recipe, I’ve even shared it with my mom. I want to make it today but don’t have fresh basil… Can I sub dried basil and if so how much? Thanks again for posting this winner winner chicken dinner :-)5 stars

        1. I’m SO happy that you’ve enjoyed it, Vanessa! While I haven’t made this using dried basil, another reader has reported success with it. I hope you enjoy it if you try it!

  2. Made this tonight – excellent. Swapped out the spinach for local wild asparagus…mmmm. Thanks for another good one, Erin!5 stars

  3. 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 stars

    1. I am so glad to hear that Susan! Thank you so much for trying the recipe and letting me know how it came out for you!

  4. 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

    1. I’m sure it’d be good with cauliflower rice or zoodles too, Dale! Hope you enjoy the recipe!

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

  5. 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. 5 stars

    1. 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.

  6. 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 :(5 stars

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

  7. 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 now5 stars

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

  8. 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.5 stars

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

  9. 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! 5 stars

    1. 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. :)

  10. 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! :D5 stars

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

  11. LOVED this! Even my dad, who prefers pizza over anything that sounds remotely healthy, chose this over the pizza we made for the kiddos!5 stars

    1. 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!

  12. 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! 5 stars

    1. 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!

  13. 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. 5 stars

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

  14. 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! 5 stars

    1. I am so happy to hear that Melissa, thank you! And thank you for leaving this glowing review too. It means a lot!

  15. 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.   5 stars

  16. 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!5 stars

  17. 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! 5 stars

  18. 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.5 stars

    1. Lucy, I am so glad you enjoyed this and can adjust to your taste next time. Thanks for taking time to leave this note!

  19. 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. 5 stars

  20. 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, Alan5 stars

  21. 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!

    1. 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.

  22. 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.5 stars

    1. 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!!

  23. 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?

    1. 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.

  24. 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.5 stars

  25. 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.5 stars

  26. 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. 

    1. 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.

    2. I made this tonight and it was delicious. I had some leftover chickpeas that I added. Next time I will add more veggies. I’m sure it will be even better. Thanks for sharing. 5 stars

  27. I have a ton of fresh basil and cake across this recipe when I was trying to figure out what to do with it. I’m glad I did, it was very good and easy to make. I ate it without rice and just increased the serving size. Very filling! 5 stars

  28. I stumbled on this recipe and I’m so glad I did. I made this tonight and it was amazing! I used fresh basil from my garden, which was awesome. I am not a fan of lemon, so I substituted with 1 tbsp of Steen’s Cane Vinegar (I read that vinegar was a good lemon substitute for the acid) and it gave it just a hint of sweetness. I also put it over a bed of white rice because that is what I had available. I will certainly be making this again. I served it with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad, also from my garden. I wish I could share the picture I took because it made for such a pretty plating. Thank you for sharing this recipe.5 stars

  29. I have three kiddos under 6, not including my pickiest eater who is 30 this year, and they loved this chicken my 5 year old is already asking to have it again. I’m so happy to find recipes that are healthy but so incredibly tasty. Thank you! Look forward to trying more of your recipes. I loved the curry cauliflower sweet potato salad. Just WOW. I love ethnic flavors and don’t live close enough to dine there often so it’s nice to be able to have more recipes at home with my favorite spices. 5 stars

  30. Excited about trying this.
    Just curious though, is the 2 cups of basil correct? That is SO much basil.

  31. OH my WORD. so terribly yummy and fast to make!!! thanks a million Erin. anything with basil is scrumptious. made my evening to eat that for supper!5 stars

  32. This was easy to make and very delicious. A bonus was I had all the ingredients in already. A one pot winner! I’ll be making this again. 5 stars

  33. I made this for dinner tonight for my husband and I and it was delicious! Thank you for the awesome recipe! 5 stars

  34. Being an amateur cook It’s hard to find good recipes that aren’t confusing and tough to make. However, when I found this recipe I had to give it a try, and I was astonished when it came out delicious. The prep was easy and simple, and the detailed instructions made cooking a breeze. This dinner is also great for meal prepping. I added brown rice and mixed vegetables, and it is by far one of my favorite and healthy quick dinners. The best thing overall is that I only used ONE PAN!!!! Less dishes in my book is a win!5 stars

  35. This was a winner for us! I used coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and served with cauliflower rice to fit our Paleo/AIP diet and it was great & far less time-consuming than most AIP recipes! Thank you!5 stars

  36. This sounds great! I’m not a big spinach fan and have some kale in my fridge. Do you think I would need to cook the kale separately to avoid overcooking the chicken (because kale would take longer than spinach to cook)? Thanks for all of your awesome recipes and for being so responsive to comments :)

    1. Hi Jenna! I’ve never tried kale in this recipe, but I think you could add it at the same time if it’s chopped into small pieces. Otherwise, you could cook it separately and stir it in at the end. If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it goes!

  37. Delicious!  I was in a hurry and eyeballed everything, and it was fabulous!  Excellent flavor, and easy to make!  Served with riced cauliflower, and asparagus with a squirt of lemon.  This one’s going into the rotation!  Thank you!5 stars

    1. Hi Jessica! While I prefer my cast-iron for recipes like this, any heavy-duty skillet should work fine here. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

  38. I tried this last night. Absolutely delicious. I made it also for a neighbor and they loved it. The lemon flavor is light and fresh. Definitely a keeper. Thanks for making me look like an excellent cook! 5 stars