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Lemon Basil Chicken in a Cast Iron Skillet

Bright and fresh flavors of lemon, basil, and olive oil season this healthy and delicious chicken recipe.  Easy recipes like this are a perfect weeknight meal or a healthy lunch prep option.

Lemon basil chicken breast with green beans on a white plate

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Do you make chicken for dinner at least one night a week at your house? We make chicken A LOT.  It’s healthy and it seems to make everyone happy.  This is one of our favorite recipes to make especially in the summertime.  Bright lemon flavors along with fresh basil make this a great recipe to try on your next chicken dinner night.  

I really can’t take credit for Lemon Basil Chicken, my husband made it up. His scientific mind (he’s a physics teacher) has been testing and perfecting the recipe since last summer. This recipe uses only 5 simple, fresh, and delicious ingredients, and I assure you this simple marinade is bursting with lemon and basil flavor. We usually make this in a cast-iron skillet which I have instructions for in the printable recipe card. We also, grill it in on the outdoor grill in the summertime and it is also delicious cooked that way.

Lemon Basil Chicken

Marinating the Chicken

This tenderizes the chicken breasts and helps to keep them from drying out. It also infuses them with lemon and basil flavors.


Answer: 6-24 hours. It is safe to keep the food in the marinade longer, but after two days it is possible that the marinade can start to break down the fibers of the meat, causing it to become a different texture.

Can you freeze lemon basil chicken?

Yes!  Put the marinade and the chicken into a labeled ziplock freezer bag and freeze for up to 6 months.  When you are ready to serve let it sit for 6-24 hours in the fridge and then cook in a cast iron skillet or on the grill as directed.

Fresh Ingredients

Please, please, please don’t make this recipe with bottled lemon juice or dried basil! Go for the real stuff, otherwise the recipe will not be the same.  For best results, use fresh lemon juice, fresh lemon zest, and fresh basil leaves.

How To Store Leftover Lemon Basil Chicken

Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.  These leftovers are awesome on salads or wraps.

Side Dishes

We usually serve Lemon Basil Chicken with a side salad, garlic green beans, grilled veggies, or pasta with white sauce.

Stovetop Garlic Green Beans
green beans with garlic and olive oil in a bowl

Cooking with Cast Iron

For this recipe you will need a large skillet, and we like to use cast iron.

Be sure to preheat your cast iron on medium-low for at least a few minutes before you begin cooking with it. There are a few reasons for this:

  • It helps your food to cook more evenly. This is because the heat has had time to be properly distributed.
  • It helps to keep the food from sticking to the pan.
  • Any meat can get nice and brown in a properly heated cast iron skillet. It’s a great way to cook steaks, chicken breasts, or any meat that you want to have a nice brown color.

I think every kitchen should have a 12″ cast iron skillet. Lodge has a great one. If you take care of it, it will last forever.
You can also use it to make perfectly cooked steaks. Check out my recipe here.

steak cast iron skillet how to

Cast iron care

Are you nervous about the care and maintenance involved? Here’s how we wash ours after each use:

  • Rinse and scrub (if needed) with hot water and a washcloth. If the food is really stuck on the bottom we love to use a scraper, like this, to get it off.
  • Dry with a dish towel, or a paper towel if your pan is oily, or just put it back on the stove on low for a few minutes until it drys.
  • Every once and a while we rub a little oil on it. And I do mean just a little.

Easy, easy, easy!

Printable Recipe Card

basil, lemon, chicken breast
Print Pin
5 from 4 votes

Lemon Basil Chicken | In a Cast Iron Skillet or Grilled

Bright and fresh flavors of lemon, basil, and olive oil season this healthy and delicious chicken recipe.  Easy recipes like this are a perfect weeknight meal or a healthy lunch prep option.
Servings 2 people


  • Half of a lemon zested and juiced
  • 2 tbs fresh basil chopped
  • 3 tbs avocado or olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Chicken breasts


  • Pour all of the marinade ingredients into a gallon-sized plastic bag. Zip the bag closed and squish it around to mix the ingredients.
  • Cut the chicken breasts in half length-wise with a serrated knife to create 4 thin chicken breasts.
  • Add the chicken breasts and marinate in the fridge for 2-4 hours. If the chicken breasts are frozen let them thaw completely in the marinade and then slice them in half lengthwise once they have thawed.*
  • Preheat a cast-iron skillet or the grill for a few minutes on medium. Then increase the heat to medium-high.
  • Place the chicken in the skillet or on the grill and cook for about 6 minutes or until 3/4 of the chicken breast turns white. The chicken should be nicely golden brown and the internal temperature should be 165 degrees F.
  • Turn the heat up to high, flip the chicken, and cook for 4-5 minutes on the other side.
  • Remove chicken breasts and let them rest on a plate or cutting board for about 3-5 minutes to let the juices redistribute in the meat.
  • Serve the chicken with additional lemon wedges on the side for an extra punch of lemon flavor.


You can make this without slicing the chicken breasts in half, just increase the cooking time to about 8-10 minutes per side.
We like to serve Lemon Basil Chicken with a side salad, green beans or pasta.

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  1. That sounds and looks delicious.

  2. Ohhhh my goodness this looks divine, definitely going to try it!

  3. Oh wow! I can’t wait to try this!! My husband and I are both huge lemon fans and my basil is growing like crazy right now! Definitely cooking this next week!!

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